Alex Csiszar

Alex Csiszar

Professor of the History of Science
Director of Graduate Studies
Alex Csiszar

Areas of Research: Material Culture, Media Studies, Philosophy of Science, Science & Technology Studies


Alex Csiszar studies the history of science in modern Europe. He publishes primarily on the history of communications media and information technology in the sciences. His work asks how formats and genres -- newspapers, journals, books, and databases — have evolved in conjunction with changes in how groups come to know things about the natural world, and in the criteria they use to trust the knowledge claims of others.

His first book, The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politicsl of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century (2018, paperback 2020) follows the rise of the modern scientific journal in Western Europe, focusing on the changing relationship between authorship and scientific identity, transformations in systems of judgement, and developing notions of trust and public accountability. It is the first book to attempt to explain how being an investigator of the natural world came, by the early twentieth century, to be identified closely with being a very particular kind of author. He is currently writing a book titled Rank and File: From the Literature Search to Algorithmic Judgment. See a recent piece on the early history of citation metrics here: "Gaming Metrics Before the Game: Citation and the Bureaucratic Virtuoso."



History of Science 252. Sciences of History

  • History of Science 200. Studying the History of Science
  • History of Science 100: Knowing the World: An Introduction to the History of Science
  • History of Science 282. Genre and Knowledge
  • History of Science 185. Communicating Science: From Print Culture to Cybersocieties
  • History of Science 165. The Scientific Revolution
  • History of Science 282. Communications Media in the Sciences



"The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century," University of Chicago Press, 2020

“How Lives Became Lists and Scientific Papers Became Data.” British Journal for the History of Science 50 (Forthcoming).

“Peer Review: Troubled from the start.” Nature, 2016, 532, 306-308.

“Q and A on the History of Retractions.” Retraction Watch, 2016.

“Objectivities in Print.” In Objectivity in Science, 145-169. Dordrecht: Springer, 2015.

“Review: Robert Fox, The Savant and the State.” Journal of Modern History 86, no. 3 (2014): 693-694.

“Bibliography as Anthropometry: Dreaming Scientific Order at the fin de siècle.” Library Trends 62, no. 2 (2013): 442-455.

“The Priority of Piracy [Review of Adrian Johns, Piracy : the intellectual property wars from Gutenberg to Gates].” Metascience 22, no. 3 (2013): 625-628.

“Serialität und die Suche nach Ordnung: Der wissenschaftliche Druck und seine Probleme während des späten 19. Jahrhunderts.” Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 7 (2012): 19-46.

“Seriality and the Search for Order: Scientific Print and its Problems during the Late Nineteenth Century.” History of Science vol. 48, no. 3/4 (September/December 2010): 399-434

“Stylizing Rigor: or, Why Mathematicians Write So Well.” Configurations 11, no. 2 (2003): 239-268.


4/19/16: A new piece in Nature on the strange history of the scientific referee: "Peer Review: Troubled from the start".  And here it is in Spanish. (For more on the history of refereeing, "Objectivities in Print.")

3/14/16: Q&A on the history of scientific retractions at Retraction Watch.

Contact Information

p: (617) 496-5184