Hurdles for the Crowdfunding Science Wackanuts to Overcome

Feb 14 2013 Published by under Tribe of Science, Twitts

I was having a few exchanges with successful science-project crowdfunder Ethan Perlstein (@perelste) who apparently was on NPR today. Good for him, good for his project, whee.

This stuff can work fine for small scale projects, one offs, etc. But placing this in the context of an alternative or replacement for major federal funding is deeply flawed.

1) Overhead rate. Now admittedly, not all Universities bother going after their indirect costs for small philanthropic donations. But if a lab tries to exist on this strategy? You can be damn sure they are going to come after indirects. Some Universities do this already. And donors don't like it. You can bet there's some fancy tapdancing trying to figure out how to minimize revealing to the medium ticket donors that their donation are getting taxed. The big ones fight it, obvs.

2) Chump change. Sorry but it is. Perlstein raised $25K. The NIH R03 is $50K for two years. The R21 is $275K over two years and the R01, as we've discussed, is most typically $250K (in direct costs, mind you) for 4-5 years. There is going to be very, very little that can be accomplished with the kind of cash that is available via crowdfunding.

3) Yeahbut! The uBiome and American Gut projects raised over $600K, man! Yeah, the former is at $286,548 and the latter is at $339,541 as of this writing. Impressive. Right? but the total is less than the cost of two years of NIH R01 funding. And these may be the best examples. Time will show how many of these can go viral and make big bucks, how many can get $25,000 and how many struggle to get $5,000. Color me extremely skeptical on the big-bucks ones.

4) Can it repeat? That's another critical question. All well and good for Perlstein to pull down $25K in crowdfunding. But he needs to do it again. and again. and again. No offense but crowd funding works the first time on novelty, your buddies and people looking to make a point. Think they'd be lining up to throw down for Perlstein's second project in such numbers? Will people who don't even know him flog the shit out of the Twitt stream like they did for his Meth study? Here's a hint: hell no.

5) Deliverables. Part of the problem is the nature of the deliverables. What is the crowd to see that has been done with their money? Well, from Perlstein's project description, the data are going up online as they roll in. So...figures. basically. Not even clear that there will be a pub on which they can be acknowledged. The small scope of the project make it likely that at best one publishable panel will result. And dude, will regular journals put up with the Supplementary Acknowledgement Table approach so all donors can be listed? maybe. but what, now you are going to return to the same crowd and say "Hey, throw down another $25K and we'll do Figure 2...if I still have a job, that is".

6) Science is a tough sell. Still. It is extremely difficult to see where anything Perlstein happens to find about the intracellular distribution of methamphetamine is going to so engage the crowd that it jumps in with more funding. This is pretty basic science. It would take "I am mere inches away from curing Meth addiction" level stuff to grab the crowd if you ask me (and anyway, if you did that, Pharma would come a'callin'). In contrast, I offer the outcome for one of my favorite scifi authors. Tobias Buckell had a decent fan base, a book series for which there was a clamor for more from his crowd and he was asking for a mere $10K. He raised it, wrote the book and delivered that sucker to his readers (Kickstarter backers and nonbackers alike). It was, to my read, the same book he would have written (and I would have purchased) if he'd had a schweet advance deal at a major publisher. Or if he'd (somehow) still been able to write on spec like a noob author. Same damn product. Can we say the same for a $25k SCIENCE project? I think not.

52 responses so far

  • Beaker says:

    Has anybody seriously suggested this as a viable replacement for NIH funding? I didn't get the impression from the NPR report that they were suggesting it was the start of something capable of revolutionizing how research is funded. Aren't you arguing with a straw man? I acknowledge that you destroyed StrawMan's argument.

  • drugmonkey says:

    wild eyed wackaloons *always* say they are out to REvOLutshuniZE everything. then when you question them they retrench to "I never said that , don't be absurd". and then they go right back to wild-eyed optimism.

    but anyway, my argument is not exclusively by way of comparison to major grant funding. My concerns are related to the self-contained notion that 1) you can raise anything resembling a useful (i.e., producing output) amount of cash and 2) that it can work more than once or a few times

  • physioprof says:

    Perlstein is obviously going through some variant amalgamation of Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief. Right now he's in a hybrid anger-bargaining stage, telling himself "Fucke those assholes in academia and at NIH! I'm totally gonna fund a sustained wet-bench scientific career with a paypal tip jar! YEAH!"

    The fact is that real wet-bench scientific research is *hugely* expensive. In order to even do *one* panel of one figure of one paper's worth of experiments, the real cost has gotta be *way* more than $25,000. You need lab space, electricity, janitors, HVAC, gas, equipment, EHS compliance administration, IACUC and animal care administration, etc.

  • drugmonkey says:

    the Palca set up was CLEARLY in relationship to government grants, btw. take a listen.

  • Beaker says:

    The principle of crowdsourcing is cool, and I am all for thinking outside the box. In a way, we already have crowdsourcing in the form of charities devoted to curing specific diseases. If you are doing research in muscular dystrophy, it's a no-brainer to apply to MDA. The MDA review system merely functions as a gatekeeper between the donators and the researchers.

    My dad has a rare disease like this. He gives money to the charity devoted to curing the disease. But he wouldn't have a clue whether a specific proposal is good or pie-in-the-sky. Indeed, if they told him that a specific idea was likely to produce a cure, he'd be more likely to give them money, even if it was total quackery.

  • Lady Day says:

    Perlstein did what my former boss did, only not so publicly. Former boss would give lab tours to wealthy private foundation types (billionaires got individual tours, millionaires got group tours). Those were the days when he'd give us advance warning to dress nicely, be on time, and look busy. Not so hilarious to me, being a serious-minded female scientist and all, but some of my female labmates would dress especially cute on those days, in hopes of snagging some wealthy tycoon (with absolutely no intention of using such a tycoon's money for research, should they achieve their goal).

    Anyway, I think former boss raised much, much more $ that way than Perlstein.

    And, I agree with your points, DM.

  • drugmonkey says:

    yeah this dude over at scifundchallenge seems to think this is a replacement for something...

  • Yoder says:

    Is it too late in the discussion to point out that tax-funded goverment granting agencies are, in fact, a form of crowdfunding? Just with, you know, budgets and formal proposal review and whatnot.

  • physioprof says:

    This poor fucker makes about as much sense as a baseball douche who gets cut from the Yankees and claims he's gonna just put together his own team over in the park down 161st Street, because fucke the Yankees, and it's gonna be even better because SMASH THE HEGEMONY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL!!!

  • AmasianV says:

    Whenever I see "deliverables," all I can't think of is this: http://researchinprogress.tumblr.com/post/34286521764/grant-proposals-vs-reality

  • Dave says:

    You can in theory generate a decent amount of data out of $25K IFFFFFFF you already have the necessary equipment and the skills needed and the project is very simple, ANNNNDDDDDD the project is in vitro only. Of course you will need other sources of money for salary etc but it is *possible*.

    But like CPP says, the real cost of a $25K project in an academic lab is much more than just $25K in consumables.

    I agree with DM though, it is the sustainability of this approach long-term which is the problem, especially with a lack tangible deliverables.

  • DJMH says:

    I was sorta hoping the future of science would come with laser printers, and a salary that covers haircuts.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Exactly, AmasianV, exactly.

    DJMH he looks more presentable out of the wind...

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Yoder, no way. Critical difference in the individual donor choice to opt in or out.

  • Jipkin says:

    Anyone know if these contributions are tax-deductible, like a traditional donation? Perhaps that would give this avenue some legs but I too see this limited to niche projects and pilot studies. Not a bad thing but not a revolution.

  • GM says:

    NIH budget is 30 billion. The population of the United States is 300 million. That means that on average every person in the US is giving $100 a year for biomedical research. And it's totally insufficient.

    Now let's pose the question in this form to people: "Do you want to give $100 every year for biomedical research" (we ignore the other science agencies). How many can we reasonably expect to say "Yes"? I am quite sure it would be a small minority of people.

    That should be sufficient to give one a proper perspective on the realities of crowdfunding.

    Without a combination of increased government spending AND breaking the Ponzi scheme of PhD and postdoc production, there is going to be no solution.

  • zb says:

    The NPR piece was dreadful, and did indeed sell this novelty toy funding as the next big thing in science funding. At the very best, we could have a "Donors Choose" for science. Folks could pop up request for small ante equipment (a digital oscilloscope? a pack of electrodes?) and promise to send delightful notes back to the donor.

    I like Donors Choose and find the personal notes from kids delightful. I also think that, occasionally, it means something to someone out there that a stranger on the internet thought that their school should have a trumpet (just like there are times when it feels good to have someone pat you on the back for the science you do). But, no one sells Donors Choose as a replacement for the funding of k-12 education. And, I personally go further and try to avoid supporting anything that sounds like a basic necessity of education.

    None of those ideas got expressed in the NPR report. And, I kept wondering why it made more sense for Perlstein to spend all this energy raising 25K instead of actually writing a grant and getting a job. Seriously, he's going to be a "independent scientist" and do his experiments in his apartment? Is that really the plan? Freaky. What do you think the end result will be ? I'm guessing a job at a pharmaceutical or foundation or disease charity in marketing.

  • Dr Becca says:

    You can in theory generate a decent amount of data out of $25K IFFFFFFF you already have the necessary equipment and the skills needed and the project is very simple, ANNNNDDDDDD the project is in vitro only. Of course you will need other sources of money for salary etc but it is *possible*.

    That is a lot of conditions!

    Obviously $25k is not zero dollars, but what you're basically saying is that in order to generate data with $25k, you also need about $200k.

  • Dave says:

    Obviously $25k is not zero dollars, but what you're basically saying is that in order to generate data with $25k, you also need about $200k.

    Completely agree to be honest. Without the infrastructure to go with it, $25K is useless.

  • becca says:

    DM- do you really think $10k pays for all of an author's time (even at... say... $9/hour), all their rent/gas/electricity/food/IRA contributions/healthcare (at individual market rates!!!)/ect. for the time it takes them to write a book?
    The vast majority of your objections apply to all crowd funding; science might be particularly expensive, but the essential problem is there for everything.

    Now I'll readily concede that crowd funding as a whole may not prove sustainable. And my personal conclusion was that it could still do some good in the process. Donor's Choose surely skews incentives away from local public schools to actually pay for education (and no, I don't think paying for one $150 trumpet for one middle class kid is going to make the educational system we've got function more ethically than paying for 15 $10 books for 15 poor kids). It's still a worthy charity. Perfect, enemy good, and all that.

    An aside... Screw haircuts! And all you judgey judgers out there! I judge you all for not growing out your hair to donate to wigs for kids. What you want little children with cancer to cry because they were teased because you were too selfish to grow your hair out for them? Jerkfaces.

    GM- it likely depends how you ask the question about supporting research. From a poll about the goals for the new Congress, 72% of Americans say Congress should expand medical research, at least according to the Research!America polls (http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130111/Timely-data-about-Americans-views-on-issues-related-to-biomedical-and-health-research.aspx). In the past, they've gone so far as to show >75% support when the question is asked "would you pay $X more money for more medical research", where X is the amount the average taxpayer would have to cough up to make a dent in NIH budget woes. I'm not sure if general dissatisfaction with government and it's ability to wisely spend tax monies might have impacted the answers to that one over time though.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I'm pretty sure a reasonably established author like Buckell builds estimated sales of his product into his calculations. The kick starter was an advance, is all. Making it worth his time risk to write that instead of some other project.

    But then I don't know how many hours it took him to write the thing, edit, ebookify etc. so hard to determine from the outside.

    I have a much better feel for what it takes to do research.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Let the Breaking Bad jokes commence.

  • whimple says:

    GM: every person in the US is giving $100 a year for biomedical research. And it's totally insufficient

    Insufficient for what? It is precisely sufficient to get $30B per year of research done, which apparently is the amount of research the populace wants. You want more? Maybe you should hold an internet bakesale like Perlstein did.

  • Dave says:

    Does this guy even have a lab to work in? Bit of a pickle if he doesn't.

  • SidVic says:

    A rich patron could buy my research operation, within reason. For 200K per annum in discretionary funds I would direct my research to a pet disease. Mechanisms of ageing, for instance. I would dance like a monkey on a grinder- Quarterly reports and frequent consultations with the patron to make him feel involved. Sure why not? These guys can only have so many yachts, what better status symbol than a research lab at your beck and call.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    That's the Ellison Foundation. The rich pet is named "Larry."

  • GM says:

    whimple: Insufficient for what?

    Insufficient to keep everyone employed. I am actually of the opinion that we can cut down on the amount of experiments we do and invest some more time in thinking instead, and not only are we not going get less research done, we may actually get more substantial results. But the reality is there isn't enough around for everyone at present, if there was, R01 success rates would not be historically low.

    becca: I don't actually see a "Would you play $X a year for research" question in the link you posted, but I take your word that such a poll indeed exists and I am happy that was the response. I am just not aware of it. The problem is that such a question would always be phrased in terms of studying disease, while we all know very well that most of that is simply not where the really serious science is (although it does get the lion's share of funding). Tell people "Give me $100 a year to study flies, nematodes, frog and mouse development, etc." and I highly doubt you would get the same response.

  • SidVic says:

    Self-entitled? Nobody cares if you have a job. Comments like the above almost make wish they would actually cut the NIH budget. I suggest that you get out in the world a bit more and learn how it really works. Sheesh.

  • Ola says:

    The follow up piece on NPR this morning was even more grating. I forget the exact quote but it went something like this....

    "The chances of us finding nothing are incredibly low, so in terms of deliverables we're definitely going to find something interesting"

    To which the missus and I both responded simultaneously, "The chances of us finding nothing are incredibly high"

    Of all the folks who deserve funding, the ones who can guarantee results are the ones who should get to the back of the line.

  • jebyrnes says:

    Hey there! Wild eyed wackaloon here (i.e., co-founder of #SciFund), and I'm so glad you've decided to troll us! We haven't had a good you-guys-are-idiots-and-this-will-never-work troll in a while, and the last time we did, we hadn't run 159 scientists through #SciFund. I've had some more time to think.

    So, a few things which I'll find useful. First, in order to understand how we plan on REvOLutshuniZE-ing science funding, go listen to our AAAS webinar on science crowdfunding. You'll quickly see that we're totally insane people who want to use science crowdfunding for, you know, preliminary investigations, grad student research, and that many scientists who have used it don't require bazillions of dollars to do their work. I'll give you me as an example. I raised ~4K. Basically, it paid for boat fuel and people time out diving. Because that's what I need for my research. 4K? Great! Now I have the data, and am working it into a publication. Success! Sorry, but science is a big tent, and a lot of us don't need a bazillion per project. 2.5K? That's one of my grad student's entire summer research budget and should generate a thesis chapter. Do they want to raise more? Rock on!

    But wait, what's that, we're trying to replace government funding? REvOLutshunE! REvOLutshunE!

    *sigh*

    You sound like about half of the reporters who have talked to me about science crowdfunding. That's usually question 2 or 3. And then I have to politely tell them that, no, that would be nuts. Government funding is absolutely essential to how we work, and we're not trying to give it up or face ourselves off against the big-bad-NSF/NIH. Rather, I think among the strongest arguments for having a go at science crowdfunding (from a getting mo' money perspective) is to crowdfund something at the start, then waltz in with your hot science proposal with preliminary data, and then hit them with *boom* broader impacts of a huge fracking audience built in that already wants to know what you're doing, and is even willing to personally invest in it. Because you're so hot, that you communicate your science to the masses, *and the masses want more*.

    So, you know, there's that.

    Of course, when I've told that to a few reporters, they have said, "Oh? Really... Huh. Well. But don't you just hate the government? I mean, really? Say something nasty!"

    *sigh*

    "But, but, but, Ethan and his $25K!", I see you saying! Or, uBiome and their $290,796 (Chump change. To some.) or American Gut and their $339,411! (Also, again, chump change. Right?).

    1) Universities will start extracting overhead! Well, frankly, if people are regularly bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars, damn right they should be. Right now, the average we get per proposal at #SciFund is 1.5K. Universities we've worked with are happy for the attention, and will sometimes take 2-4%, but often nothing. There's a whole route of giving that covers this.

    2) Surely no scientist can regularly bring in these sums of money! Well, right now, you are totally correct. But, if you look at any discipline - music, video games, fancy watches, whatever - that are now crowdfunding at the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars level, it took them 3-5 years to get there. We've been doing this for about a year and a half. That we're getting Ethan's and American Guts, etc. is frankly astounding.

    3) These efforts ARE bringing in money! They'll replace NSF/NIH! Well, no. Has the Moore foundation? The Gates foundation? The Sloan foundation? Because we have foundations, does that mean we'll kill government funding? I don't think so. Making the argument that a new stream of funding will kill the old is a classic false equivalency argument.

    Need an example that is from crowdfunding, and not just a foundation? Well, look at the crowdfunding arm of Cancer Researk UK that regularly raises tens of thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of pounds for research! Has that killed government funding for that kind of research in the UK? Is

    4) Repeatability? Big question! Dr. Zen has done it more than once. A lot of people have only done it once, though, so we haven't been able to test this. As what we're finding at #SciFund is that getting mo' money is about doing mo' engagement, my take is that those that, after getting funded, have maintained strong relationships with the crowd that funded them will indeed be able to repeat. Jai and I often cite the NPR model - that if you can build a consistent audience for your science, and then every so often come in for some cash, it works for everyone else, so... It's a big if, and hasn't been tested yet. Then again, when we started, the idea of $25K for one project also seemed insane.

    5) Delivarables - yep. What do you get from funding science? You get science! Well, that, and many projects do provide all sorts of other fringe benefits - from the small (I'm staring at a 3Dprinted meth molecule right now as well as a postcard from Alex Warneke), and, frankly, I love it. I'm not going to read Ethan's papers - it's not my field. But I love the regular updates I get, and the reminder that I'm part of his project. Alex's stuff, though, I'll read. And rag on her about. Because that's in my field.

    6) But selling science is haaaard! Oh, please. It's hard because we've spent so goddamned long inside our comfy ivory tower talking to only each other and forgetting about the outside world. This is a huge fracking problem. For me, the entire point of science crowdfunding is the engagement. We're insane passionate people. We didn't get into science because we think it's boring. We got into it because it's the coolist shit out there. But we are terrible at conveying this (often - not always). It's why there are great organizations like Compass and others who are helping us to remember how to communicate our gibbering excitement outside of our own offices and labs. Heck, you can even look at crowdfunding as getting paid to do outreach work. It will not only benefit the broad audiences you're trying to reach, but it will benefit *YOU* the scientist by making you think bigger and broader than you do in your day to day. I mean, come on, I was able to raise 4.6K to fund a study to quantify MEASUREMENT ERROR. Really, that's all it was. I set it as a challenge for myself to try and crowdfund the least interesting thing possible (that I actually really needed to get done and didn't have the money for). If I can bring in about $5K for measurement error, I think anyone doing just about anything else can do better.

    OK, that was a lot. And I decided to go full bore wackaloon on you (hope you enjoyed). But, in short.

    a) Science crowdfunding isn't going to replace, nor should it replace, govt. funding. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to write a story full of controversy and should be viewed with a gimlet eye.

    b) Large money is possible. It takes work. But the rewards go beyond just the cash. We're gonna need to build audiences to make large sums a more than occasional thing.

    c) It's about *engagement*. That's how it works. If you don't want to engage audiences outside of your own tiny group of scientists thinking about what you do, stay away from crowdfunding. It's OK. We'll just judge you for it. Ha!

    d) I like lists.

    OK, thanks! Happy to talk about this more here, or talk about it in the emailz or twitterz.

  • Dave says:

    Right now, the average we get per proposal at #SciFund is 1.5K

    So it is very legitimate to question whether this method is enough to do bench science on a regular basis. I notice that you did not address the cost of biomedical research and as we have talked about above, $25K probably doesn't buy you much if you don't have a lab, equipment etc. This then ties in with the "deliverables" issue: are the donating public really going to be OK with "hey, thanks for the $25K, we have done some assay optimization and now we want to do the real experiment. We need $500,000"? That's the big question for me and we will just have to wait and see.

    I personally think its a great thing you are doing. The more sources of money in research, the better. But try not to take the DM blog toooooo seriously.

  • drugmonkey says:

    What!?!?!!! This is serious business 24/7 ,muppethugger!

  • qaz says:

    For a lot of science (not all), but including a lot of biomedical science, the main expense is salaries. On most R01s, the vast majority of the cost is student, postdoc, technician, and faculty(*) salaries. If these salaries were covered by some other cost, even most biomedical scientists could crowd-fund their laboratories.

  • jebyrnes says:

    Hee - long-time lurker, first time poster. I'm delighted to get into the mix! Now if only I had a scifund wackaloon badge. That, I would wear with pride.

    You're right, though, that some sciences need to be funded at different levels, and there will be different challenges with respect to different disciplines in terms of reaching those goals.

    I honestly don't know how much the funding public is all "Yo, cool, I'm just glad science is being done." versus "Gimme gimme!" - it's why I'm filing an IRB this month to start to survey donors to #SciFund. I think that uBiome and American Gut were absolutely brilliant by bringing people into the process of doing the science to fund their project. Crowdfunding and citizen science are a natural combination, as there is already a built-in audience (or you're using your crowdfunding to build said audience).

    But for other bench scientists who need mad moolah for their hot science, what are the kinds of deliverables that will bring people in? Is publications + showing people what's going on in your lab as it goes on (i.e., not just figures, but narrative blog posts about the research as its going on) + a fun thing like a 3D meth molecule enough? Are other 'rewards' like awesome science t-shirts enough? Are personal appearances, etc., for high donors going to do it? What are the kinds of deliverables that will forge the strongest connections with audiences so that they'll contribute beyond just great science and fantastic publications? I don't think we'll really know until we ask.

    Obviously, having a 'deliverable' like getting someone's gut sequences seems to have appealed greatly. If we look at that, and other successful crowdfunding proposals in non-scientific disciplines, it appears that anything that can bring people into the science is going to be a big plus.

    Basically, the better you can do outreach and engagement and really make people have a connection with you and the work you are doing, the more cash you should be able to raise.

  • Zen Faulkes says:

    As the dude whose picture Drugmonkey dropped into the comments above, I'd like to say my views are more subtle than appears on the paper I'm holding. And I think you know that, Drugmonkey. :)

    http://neurodojo.blogspot.com/2012/05/this-is-future-of-science-scifund.html

    http://neurodojo.blogspot.com/2012/05/why-crowdfunding-is-needed-precis.html

  • becca says:

    @Zen- yes, but is your HAIR less subtle than appears on the picture???

  • Drugmonkey says:

    This blog does not countenance hair shaming becca!

  • jakester says:

    Crowdfunding seems to work well when it has the reputation of a University behind it. For example, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center took at stab at this in order to combat the difficult government funding situation. They set up a bike ride where each rider is required to crowdfund $1800 for cancer research. The donors don't know exactly where the money will end up, but 100% of donations do go towards cancer research grants for PIs and fellowships for students and postdocs. They've raised 42 million in 4 years and it's had an enormous impact on OSU. Just an example of a grassroots effort that became huge. http://pelotonia.org/

  • Dave says:

    That's awesome, but I noticed that they appear to have changed the model such that most of the money now seems to come from private corporations which sponsor the program. Money is money but im not sure this is crowdfunding, rather standard philanthropy.

  • NEUROHULK says:

    HULK THINK CROWDFUNDING SCIENCE BAD FOR ANIMAL RESEARCH. HULK NOT GOING TO ASK PUBLIC DIRECTLY FOR MONEY TO PUT ELECTRODES IN ANIMAL BRAINS BECAUSE HULK SCARED OF A R WACKALOONS

  • becca says:

    DM- then why would long hair + wind = unpresentable??

    NB: does THON count as crowdfunding? It's still ~85% from individual donations.

  • Boundary Layer Physiology says:

    I think we should all be worried about crowdsourcing becoming a way to circumvent research ethics.

    If you've got time to raise the money, that is.

  • Alex Warneke says:

    Hi. My name is Alex and I am a #SciFund "Wackanut." We don't go to meetings...though that would be super fun.

    Just to comment as someone who has actually done crowd funding....

    If it weren't for the #SciFund Challenge, I would have not been able to start my research and obtain preliminary data....which is almost essential for many of the "bigger grants" out there. Just to put this in perspective...I am the only graduate student in my cohort who has secured funding. Though, in comparison, it might seem like "chump change"...federal funding is becoming damn near impossible to secure these days...not to mention it takes forever to actually get when you do. Crowd funding was an easy, not to mention, fun way to get enough upstart money to get my project off the ground. Coming from a state that has literally no money (Yay California) there is something to be said for this.

    Crowd funding. 1. Other funding sources. 0.

    "6) Science is a tough sell. "

    Wrong. Science is easy to sell. It's all about being creative and from my experience...scientists are some of the most creative people I know. The "system" as it were, has just forced people to conform to some preconceived notion on who to be and how to get grants and funding. That's a load of crap. If you put what you are doing in a way that people can actually understand you would be shocked on how supportive they will be. There is just currently a major disconnect. Crowd funding bridges that gap and reminds people (both scientists and the public) why science is freaking cool. You almost have to revert back to your 6th grade self here and remember why you got into the field in the first place. Start with why you love it so much...then go from there. If you can put across your passion...there is nothing "tough to sell" about it.

    "Alex's stuff, though, I'll read. And rag on her about. Because that's in my field."

    Great...

  • kant says:

    Good news is that the ever scarce NIH-funding is causing a greater sensibility in people, all kind of people and businesses, to support science and academia. And the word is spreading

    http://www.csuohio.edu/events/radiance/sponsors/index.html

  • [...] The End of dissertating, which has been taking up an awful lot of time. But a recent post by DrugMonkey on their perceptions of the hurdles crowdfunding science faces inspired me to write a post. [...]

  • drdrA says:

    Hm. Well, I suppose I should read through all 46 comments- but I'm too lazy ass to do that right now. I'll throw some gas on the fire instead- that 25K - even 10K can support some projects in some circumstances. If a faculty member has a 100% salaried appointment, and an existing lab, and a ready supply of talented undergrads, and doesn't do live animals or tissue culture- 25K is more than enough to function on for 1 year - maybe 2 years- ... say while the federal government and the NIH get over their current crisis.

    So- poo-bah all you want- some people can and will survive on this amount of money- I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it.

  • [...] of the scientific research crowdfunding model argue that the denominations earned from crowdfunding on sites like Microryza and Petridish add up to [...]

  • [...] of the scientific research crowdfunding model argue that the denominations earned from crowdfunding on sites like Microryza and Petridish add up to [...]

  • [...] of the scientific research crowdfunding model argue that the denominations earned from crowdfunding on sites like Microryza and Petridish add up to [...]

  • Ivaylo says:

    Hello from Bulgaria.
    Here also our government gives too little money for science.
    For example Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is with reduced budget. We rely on the money from the Eurofunds. More international projects - more money.
    Here much more money is spent for cars, fuel, exotic travels, houses, cigarettes... but not for science, arts, music...

    I see here, that there is some ignorance against guys with long hair. Why, haters? Is long hair only for girls. I thought, that USA was a free country?!
    Everyone has the right to decide how to look like. And it's science, not customer service or a reception! My hair even passes my shoulders and don't allow people to tell me what to do with it. At work (Forest Genetics lab) all accept me. That's enough.
    What does "unpresentable" mean? When I go to a seminar or a conference, make a ponytail.

    Greetings from Sofia.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    We do not hate Zen, nor his long hair or kilt. Nor do we hate Bulgarians.

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