A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2022 May 10, 14:31 -0700
I can only speak for the Journal of Navigation (JoN), but I imagine ‘Navigation’ is similar. The JoN was started in 1948 when most of the papers were submitted by what you might call professional and amateur specialist marine and air navigators either serving, working in industry, or retired. Most professional navigators and enthusiasts could follow most of the papers.
Today things have changed greatly. Most of the papers are submitted by university research groups anxious to have work published. The lead author might well be a PhD candidate and the additional names are their supervisors. Alternatively, the names might be all the members of a particular group. The growth in the size of universities, plus the availability of digital electronics and computing, and the multiple uses of GNSS for position, navigation and timing has caused output to explode.
In the early 60s a researcher might have been lucky to have been allocated 30 minutes in the middle of the night on the university’s only computer. Now every department seems to have a whole floor of post-grads slaving over PCs 24/7 (and very few playing with real wind tunnels, radios, and the like, which was much more fun!). Very few papers might be readable by ‘the man on the Clapham omnibus’ unless they can soak up rows of matrices in the same way they might soak up the local newspaper. However, because the Royal Institution of Navigation has become a broad church of specialities in order to survive (e.g. it also covers Animal Navigation, and Cognitive Navigation), the JoN does occasionally publish papers which most Nav-Heads can appreciate and generally understand. Unfortunately, with the competition to be published in such a respected journal comes the problem of a queue for peer-review, which some of our fellow NavListers have experienced recently.
The good thing for RIN members and others with free access is that all the JoNs going back to 1948 are now digitised and offer a ‘navigators heaven’ of good reading from earlier years. See also: https://rin.org.uk/page/JournalofNavigation DaveP