20 August 2013 by Alice Bonasio

research miscellanea  Research Taps Into the Crowd

There’s no denying that securing funding is a vital part of a researcher’s job. But although it has never been exactly easy to apply for and get money for scientific research, the on-going global economic crisis made things even more difficult, especially for early career researchers. Faced with cuts, universities and funding bodies have less money to distribute, and might opt for safer bets in established scientists and less experimental approaches and projects.

Maybe this is why we have seen a rise in the trend of crowdfunding research, where scientists – both in and around traditional institutions – have appealed to the wisdom (and pockets) of the crowd. And the crowd, it seems, is really eager to take a more active role in research, not only funding it but also participating through citizen science projects.

Microryza, a crowdfunding website launched in 2012, raised over $200,000 for about 80 projects (they operate an all-or-nothing model where backers only get charged if the campaign goal is reached). Those projects include creating an open synthetic biology lab in the cloud, Tracking Magellanic Penguins, an investigation into why jokes are funny, and research into whether nanobots can be used to detect and target cancer cells.

Indiegogo, the largest crowdfunding platform on the web, hosted some very successful projects such as uBiome (a citizen science project that aims to better understand the dozens of health conditions related to the bacteria in your body) and iCancer (a campaign that raised over £2 million to fund research into a potential treatment for neuroendocrine cancer)

At Mendeley, we thought that our community of nearly 2.5 million researchers would be interested in the new possibilities this type of funding could bring, so we started a Crowdfunding group and asked Indiegogo to advise any researchers who wanted to start their own campaigns into what they should do to maximise their chances of success. This is why on Tuesday the 27th August Alice Atkinson-Bonasio from Mendeley will join the experts at Indiegogo for one of their weekly sessions, which will be streamed live on YouTube.

This is where we’ll be talking about some of the most common questions researchers have around crowdfunding, such as what opportunities, there are, what successful campaigns have done, what research has been funded and what best practice is for reaching your target.

If you have any questions or comments about crowdfunding research, please join the Mendeley group, send a tweet to @alicebonasio using the hashtag #MendeleyCrowdfunding or post it on the comments here. You can also find us on both the Indiegogo and Mendeley Facebook pages.

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