So yesterday I joined a live Google Hangout with the folks from Indiegogo to try and answer some of those questions and also give some general guidelines about how to start a campaign to raise research funds through crowdfunding.
Breanna DiGiammarino, Educational Vertical Lead at Indiegogo, advised researchers to think about what audience their research speaks to, but also pointed out that you can often be surprised at how many people are interested in what might seem a very niche subject. Crowdfunding, she explains, reaches a wide global audience, and that reach can be much bigger than you expect.
Involving the growing community of citizen scientists is also a great way to enhance the effectiveness of a crowdfunding campaign, and can provide other important contributions to the research project. One example we looked at was uBiome, where people who contributed to the campaign were also sent a sampling kit. This sampling not only yielded information about their own bacterial ecosystem, but helped the scientists behind the project to build up a huge database that will provide insight into how the microbiome relates to various diseases.
There are certainly many grey areas, specially around the ways in which institutions, regulatory bodies, journals and the research community in general view crowdfunded research, but as more projects get funded that way and researchers demonstrate that the method of funding does not mean less rigorous standards, this is likely to become much more commonplace in the research fundraising landscape.
You can watch the video chat here and, as usual, feel free to get in touch with questions or comments. For specific questions about setting up your research crowdfunding campaign you can also reach out directly to Breanna on Twitter either @indiegogoEdu or @gogobre