Specialization can be seen as a response to the problem of an increasingaccumulation of scientific knowledge. By splitting up the subject matter intosmaller units, one man could continue to handle the information and use it asthe basis for further research. But specialization was only one of a series ofrelated developments in science affecting the process of communication. Anotherwas the growing professionalisation of scientific activity.
No clear-cut distinction can be drawn between professionals and amateursin science: exceptions can be found to any rule. Neverthelss, the word “amateur”does carry a connotation that the person concerned is not fully integrated intothe scientific community and, in particular, may not fully share its values.The growth of specialization in the nineteenth century, with its consequentrequirement of a longer, more complex training, implied greater problems foramateur participation in science. The trend was naturally most obvious in thoseareas of science based especially on a mathematical or laboratory training, andcan be illustrated in terms of the development of geology in the UnitedKingdom.
A comparison of British geological publications over the last century anda half reveals not simply an increasing emphasis on the primacy of research,but also a changing definition of what constitutes an acceptable researchpaper. Thus, in the nineteenth century, local geological studies representedworthwhile research in their own right; but, in the twentieth century, localstudies have increasingly become acceptable to professionals only if theyincorporate, and reflect on, the wider geological picture. Amateurs, on theother hand, have continued to pursue local studies in the old way. The overallresult has been to make entrance to professional geological journals harder foramateurs, a result that has been reinforced by the widespread introduction ofrefereeing, first by national journals in the nineteenth century and then byseveral local geological journals in the twentieth century. As a logicalconsequence of this development, separate journals have now appeared aimedmainly towards either professional or amateur readership. A rather similarprocess of differentiation has led to professional geologists coming togethernationally within one or two specific societies, where the amateurs have tendedeither to remain in local societies or to come together nationally in adifferent way.
Although the process of professionalisation and specialization was alreadywell under way in British geology during the nineteenth century, its fullconsequences were thus delayed until the twentieth century. In sciencegenerally, however, the nineteenth century must be reckoned as the crucialperiod for this change in the structure of science.