Publication precedence was as important to scientific endeavours in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century as it is today. Our study of publication patterns from French scientific expeditions to the Pacific (1785-1840) reveals significant changes to the way in which science was conducted and the levels of control different contributors retained over the resulting publications. Early voyages were characterized by the presence of civilian savants and a lack of centralized control over the resulting voyage publications, either by the Navy or the Muséum d'histoire naturelle. After Baudin's landmark voyage, science was largely conducted by naval officers rather than civilian savants, in a move somewhat contrary to the general professionalization of the sciences at the time. This increased naval control appears to have reduced tensions on the voyages as well as ensuring that most scientific publications appeared in the officially sanctioned voyage narrative, edited by the surviving senior officer. This change, however, did not reduce the scientific value of the voyages. Our research shows that voyages post-Baudin were just as scientifically productive as the earlier ones and the naval scientists on board are still recognized by modern scientists, through citation, as the primary authors of the work they produced on these voyages.