The first endeavours to establish a Vienna-based journal in Celtic studies date form the middle of the 1990ies and are closely tied to the history of Brennos - Austrian Society for Celtic Studies. This society was founded at the end of 1994 through an initiative of Albert Bock, Raimund Karl and David Stifter. Other persons involved in the activities were Ingeborg Gaisbauer, Theresa Illés, Jutta Leskovar and others. The prime aim of the society was the establishment of Celtic studies as a separate field of study at the University of Vienna. Apart from a petition and the organisation of public events, one of the activities that was deemed suitable in pursuit of the overall goal was the establishment of a journal with the title Brennos - Studia Celtica Austriaca.
The protagonists were mostly responsible for the contributions, but colleagues from other disciplines were also convinced to write for the journal. A trial issue with the number -1 appeared in 1995, the other issues, no. 1 and no. 2, both nominally from 1996, appeared 1996 and 1997 respectively. The journal was sold for öS (= ATS) 40,- (ca. € 3,-). It was published in the format A4, consisted of double-sided, center-fold, stapled pages in the format A3 and was laboriously xeroxed by the editors in a copy shop. The result lacked of sophistication and the cumbersome production process eventually had the effect that those three issues were all that appeared.
After a few years of little activity, the society Brennos received a new boost when favourable circumstances made it possible in 1999 to establish Celtic studies as a so-called indiviualised master course at the University of Vienna. In the following years, the society became the social bond that held together the different groups that were Celtic studies in Vienna at that time. In this sense, it was the social aspect that predominated while the goal to establish a journal became somewhat less important.
In 2004, Hannes Tauber, at the time a member of the society and today the society’s chairman, suggested publishing a journal again. The scientific initiative was taken up by David Stifter as main editor with Raimund Karl as a valuable advisor. An appropriate name for the new publication was soon found in Keltische Forschungen (KF). A suitable publishing house was found in Edition Praesens (today Praesens Verlag) led by Dr. Michael Ritter. Moreover, approximately a dozen colleagues, preponderantly from Austria, were persuaded to act as advisors and reviewers.
The conceptual work for the journal was finished in the first half of 2005. Therefore, David Stifter was able to present the proposal for a new journal for Celtic studies to international colleagues at the 4th Symposium of German-Speaking Celtic Scholars in Linz an der Donau in July 2005. The editorial work for the first volume was finished in late 2006 and the printed book was published in early 2007. The second volume could already be published in July of the same year. It features the proceedings of a small conference, held on the occasion of the 200th birthday of Johann Kaspar Zeuß, the founder of Celtic studies in a linguistic sense. The organisors of that conference, the town of Kronach in Upper Franconia in Germany, had consented to having the proceedings appear as one annual volume of a journal.
The next volumes of Keltische Forschungen appeared in intervals of one year. The first four volumes have been supported by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for Philology and Cultural Studies of the University of Vienna, and by the Austrian Ministry for Science and Research. In addition to that, volume 1 received some funding from Brennos - Austrian Society for Celtic Studies, and volume 2 was generously funded by the town and district of Kronach in Germany, in junction with Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg.
As is common practice, the editors drew upon anonymous external experts for review of the journal contributions. An exception is volume 2, which being conference proceedings are exceptional for not being peer-reviewed.
In 2007, it was decided to establish a tripartite monograph series in addition to the journal proper. This series will consist of a General Series (A), a Hibernian Series (B), and a Brythonic Series (C).
2008 saw some changes in the composition of the editorial board and review panel, and a fundamental restructuring of the journal's organisation was undertaken in autumn 2009. In order to be eligible for inclusion in the lists for the European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) of the European Science Foundation (ESF), it became necessary to conform to several of the formal requirements of the ESF. The essential points of these were international boards and anonymous reviewers. After having consulted the guidelines of the ESF, which incidentally were not overly revealing, and after consultations with experts of the Austrian Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF), it was decided to install a small, five-member editorial board with a general editor, in place of the former, large board. It is the task of this committee to make editorial decisions by majority votes, and its members cover a broad spectrum of discipline.
In order to separate - as it were – legislative and executive functions, a broad peer review panel was installed beside the editorial board. Both boards consist of a majority of international members. Both committees were filled with members from the old editorial board as well as with twelve experts who, with one exception, have an international affiliation. In the selection process, a special focus was put on diversification in expertise.
Though it had been the practice before to have submissions reviewed by two peers, the opportunity was taken to specify the peer review process in a detailed manner, in order to conform with the requisite objectivity. For a transparent presentation of the new structures, statutes for the journal were laid down.
When the Celtic Studies curriculum at the University of Vienna was disestablished in April 2015 and the institutional link was lost, this development triggered a reorganisation within the society Brennos and, as a result, the management of the journal, which was taken over by members of the Brennos executive board. Next to David Stifter, Andreas Hofeneder, University of Vienna, agreed to share the responsibilities of general editor. The now substantially enlarged editorial team has since worked on a new strategy for the journal. From 2018, KF will be published as an open access journal within the Open Journal System of the University of Vienna. In order to underline the link between the journal and the Brennos society, the KF website was recently integrated into the society website.