If you don’t focus on history, you are condemned to repeat the mistakes. This blurb is an interesting enunciation of historical context.
As opposed to the books and less-formal means of scientific communication that preceded them, they performed four main functions (this list paraphrases one by industry expert Michael Mabe) that still apply today:Viewpoint: Covid-19 Shows That Scientific Journals Need to Open Up
1. Establishing who had an idea or performed an experiment first.
2. Certifying quality, often through the mechanism of peer review.
3. Recording the final, authorized versions of papers and archiving them.
4. Disseminating papers to a targeted scholarly audience.
By the late 1700s some scientists were already complaining that there were too many journals for anyone to keep up with. The solution turned out to be yet more journals, increasingly dedicated to single disciplines as science became more specialized
This begets the question. Why have too many journals looking at the exact same thing? I remember an incident wherein I was peer reviewing an article on the use of intensity modulation in breast cancer. Despite the number of publications on the exact same issue, I raised a query on why this should be published as it is only leading to duplicity. Of course, the article was published despite my well reasoned out objections- but the flip side was that I was out of the peer review. Yes, it was an unpaid jaunt but it only led me to believe that journals are using it to whitewash.
Nevertheless, multiplicity of journals is the bane of academic publishing- more choice doesn’t mean more research is happening. It only adds more noise making it difficult to “map out the true patterns”.