[Air-L] bear with us, while we think!

Seda Guerses sguerses at esat.kuleuven.be
Sun Jul 10 02:35:22 PDT 2011

two similar initiatives from germany have concurrently released manifesto's for "slow science". i have seen many of the topics (data collection, publication, research funding practices and academic positions) on this list. i wonder if similar positions are articulated by other academic communities and what some of you think of the topics raised?

the manifesto of the slow-science initiative from berlin is as follows (http://slow-science.org/):


We are scientists. We don’t blog. We don’t twitter. We take our time.

Don’t get us wrong—we do say yes to the accelerated science of the early 21st century. We say yes to the constant flow of peer-review journal publications and their impact; we say yes to science blogs and media & PR necessities; we say yes to increasing specialization and diversification in all disciplines. We also say yes to research feeding back into health care and future prosperity. All of us are in this game, too.

However, we maintain that this cannot be all. Science needs time to think. Science needs time to read, and time to fail. Science does not always know what it might be at right now. Science develops unsteadi ly, with jerky moves and un predict able leaps forward—at the same time, however, it creeps about on a very slow time scale, for which there must be room and to which justice must be done.

Slow science was pretty much the only science conceivable for hundreds of years; today, we argue, it deserves revival and needs protection. Society should give scientists the time they need, but more importantly, scientists must take their time.

We do need time to think. We do need time to digest. We do need time to mis understand each other, especially when fostering lost dialogue between humanities and natural sciences. We cannot continuously tell you what our science means; what it will be good for; because we simply don’t know yet. Science needs time.

—Bear with us, while we think.

the other signed by academics, publishers, journalists etc. is in german can be found here (http://www.bosch-stiftung.de/c​ontent/language1/downloads/The​senpapier_BWG.pdf). the main bullet points are (i hope i do justice in translation):

1) even if it is against the economic interest of publication houses, the number of publications need to be reduced.
2) since scientific work requires other working rules then business oriented organizations, it needs basic funding.
3) the distribution of funding should be based on the content and objectives of the research, and not on unreflected promises of how the results can be applied in practice.
4) strategic authorship in order to increase the number of publications under the name of the person, in order to increase chances for funding, should be dismissed.
5) researchers should write their own applications for funding, instead of relaying this responsibility to academic consultants/agencies which write standard application documents.
6) the academic competition leads to complex and only lightly evaluated experiments. transparency with respect to data collection and analysis should be ensured to avoid experimental failures due to time pressure.
7) well founded project and research cannot be based on short-term/precarious contracts.

notice that despite the somewhat humorously negative reference to social media, the berlin initiative has a facebook page. and, despite the desire to distinguish itself from "business oriented organizations" the document is a result of a discussion that took place at the robert bosch foundation. :)

wishing you a nice weekend,

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