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Published: 2022-11-28

Publishing and Neurology: History driven by young practitioners

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Dissemination of knowledge is a fundamental precept of medicine. In the 17th century, the emergence of the first medical journals changed the way medical science could be accessed. This change was driven by early career physicians who founded the first medicine journals. The very first one, the Journal des Sçavans, was published by Denis de Sallo in 1665 as he was about forty years old. The same year, the journal Philosophical transactions was established by the Royal Society and Charles II, who was aged about thirty [1]. The prestigious journal The Lancet was launched in 1823 by Thomas Wakley at the age of 27 [2]. Thomas Wakely, together with Charles Hastings who founded The British Medical Journal (1840), aimed to overhaul the practice of medicine with the Medical Act of 1858, which allowed the rise of medical journals [2].

Besides, the increasing amount of knowledge resulted in the emergence of specialization. In 1832, Moritz Heinrich Romberg, then in his thirties, was the first to introduce the term "Neurology" as an independent scientific field studying the anatomy, function and diseases of the nervous system [3]. The development of neurology was driven by medical scientists regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity; from Ramón y Cajal with the staining of neurons, to Marie Dejerine-Klumpke who studied the brachial plexus [4,5].

Nowadays neurology has spread to the whole world and the number of scientific journals keeps growing every year. However, a major challenge has emerged: the monetization of scientific research combined with the race for publishing in prestigious journals contribute to inequality in terms of both access to knowledge, and publication. Taking part to the history of neurology should not be hindered by one’s age, gender, ethnicity, or academic degree. Open access journals emerged in the 20th century, highlighting the need to facilitate scientific research and access to science [6].

Triggered by the digital shift, emancipation from the financial, linguistic, and logistical obstacles is changing the way science can be accessed. In the context of this new paradigm, we, young neurologists, will redefine care, from disseminating medical knowledge to deciphering neurology.


[1] Singleton A. The first scientific journal. Learn Publ. 2014;27(1):2‑4.

[2] Booth CC. Medical Communication: The Old And The New. The Development Of Medical Journals In Britain. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1982;285(6335):105‑8.

[3] Viets HR. The History of Neurology in the Last One Hundred Years. Bull N Y Acad Med. 1948;24(12):772.

[4] Berciano J, Lafarga M, Berciano M. Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Neurologia. 2001;16(3):118‑21.

[5] de Almeida Guimarães Nogueira E, Martinez de Carvalho V, Vinicius de Queiroz M, Rodrigues Rosa G, Dadalti Fragoso Y. Augusta Marie Déjerine-Klumpke: much more than just Déjerine’s wife. Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2018;76(2):117‑9.

[6] Sukhov A, Burrall B, Maverakis E. The history of open access medical publishing: a comprehensive review. Dermatol Online J. 2016;22(9):1.