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Slow science vs fast science

"Publish or perish" is the motto for Fast Science. All Early Career Scientists (ECS) are well aware that the scientific landscape has become a publication factory. Fast Science prefers quantity over quality, thereby creating a proliferation of articles that overwhelm readers and publishers and threaten the effectiveness of the peer-review system. The widespread three-year turnover of project grants causes a lack of longer-term, comprehensively monitored data-sets, contributing to incremental, not fundamental, discoveries. Researchers are challenged to publish at a high frequency, gain international experience, receive outstanding teaching evaluations and acquire multiple scholarships and grants, all of which has to be balanced with their private life. It is no surprise that the 2019 ECS debate addressed mental health problems. In contrast, the Slow Science Movement (http://slow-science.org/) believes that science should be a slow, steady, methodical process and that scientists should not be expected to provide "quick solutions" to society's problems. Slow Science supports curious scientific research and opposes performance targets.

During this Great Debate, we will discuss the alternatives to Fast Science. Is Slow Science a realistic movement? What can we learn from it and what are the disadvantages compared to Fast Science? Would it be possible to integrate this concept of Slow Science into the current scientific landscape and create more sustainable science? Should we aim to publish coherent stories instead of splitting them up, thereby focusing on the real knowledge gain and scientific advances?

The attendees will share their opinions in small groups discussing one of the following topics, each revolving around the themes raised above. After the group-internal discussion phase, the main points from each group will be shared among the groups to continue further discussion and debate.

Convener: Andrea MadellaECSECS | Co-conveners: Michael DietzeECSECS, Annegret LarsenECSECS

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  • Stuart Lane, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Valeria Cigala, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany
  • Doerthe Tetzlaff, IGB Leibniz, Germany
  • Whitney Behr, Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
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