History - The Era of the Specialty Journal

By the time W. D. Russell-Hunter took the helm of the Bulletin in 1969, the era of the specialty journal had arrived. These journals offered a quick reading on a limited subject to a select audience. Many investigators, convinced that publication in these specialty journals was the way of the future, undoubtedly prodded Russell-Hunter to consider making the Bulletin more specialized during this period. Russell-Hunter believed, however, that:

"if one regards [The Biological Bulletin] as a biological organism, it would seem good evolutionary strategy to maintain and encourage diversity. Long-term fitness, given the selection pressures which can bring about the decline of a specialist journal within a decade of its founding, to ensure the Bulletin's surviving for another 140 volumes may be conferred by a moderately eclectic editorial policy."

With more experimental disciplines turning to the specialty journal, the Bulletin had to be more competitive in certain areas to attract a diverse following. For instance, electron microscopy had become a major research tool of biology, increasing the importance of quality photographic reproduction. Russell-Hunter quickly moved to improve the Bulletin's photo reproduction by upgrading paper stocks, photographic screens, and platemaking techniques used in the printing process.

The final year of Russell-Hunter's distinguished tenure, 1979, coincided with the revolutionary effects of the computer age on the printing industry: namely the introduction of photo-offset printing and computerized type setting. The Bulletin had always been printed by the less efficient and economical letterpress method, but with Russell-Hunter's usual effectiveness the change proved to be a smooth one. The Bulletin was aging gracefully.

Source: Clapp, Pamela L. 1988. "The History of The Biological Bulletin". Biological Bulletin 174 (1): 1-3.