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Crowdfunding science – Why donate?

If you work in science research at almost any level these days, you’ll be aware of how difficult it is to get funded to carry out or continue with a project. Whether you are a doctoral student working on a cherished thesis or an “established” academic, you know that the monies available are slipping behind the needs and desires of the industry. No matter how excellent, hot-shot or meaningful the work is, grant funds are drying up.

…which puts researchers in a dilemma – in order to carry on with your science, you need a grant.

Without the grant, there’s no more science.

And without the science, there are no primary research papers.

And without the papers, there is no recognition … and no promotion … and no job.

OK – that’s a little simplistic, but before you can get your hands on the test tubes, core samples and autoradiographs, you need to get your hands on some of this fast-disappearing money.

Researchers are turning to other options to raise money to support their work, and one of these is crowdfunding. Defined as soliciting financial support from interested members of a wider public over the internet, crowdfunding a research project is becoming a more acceptable way to keep the science flowing. It can be a good model for smaller projects or one with a “way cool” factor.  And it’s not just about the money: crowdfunding gets the public behind your work and caring about your results.

It’s becoming so commonplace now that papers on crowdfunding for science research are reaching journals – yes, the very same journals where the funded science will be published eventually.

There is plenty of advice on increasing your social media presence to promote your campaign, but not much insight on what persuades someone to support your science. Alongside hot tips on how to leverage campaigns, there is comment on how crowdfunding can increase engagement with a public that might not necessarily think about science in depth.

So why do people contribute to science research crowdfunding campaigns? We’d like to know more about this to see if we can kick off some kind of debate or contribute to awareness. Our survey is very brief, designed to solicit some basic information from those who have supported a campaign: what interested them about the project, what attracted them to donate money, and how they felt about supporting science in this way.

We’d love some answers – please share …

Note: We appreciate our survey is initially going out to skewed audience of science communicators, but please share it as widely as possible. We’ll publish the results this weekend so get checking those boxes. Thank you.

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