Crowdfunding and Its Growing Role in Academic Research

Crowdfunding has helped fund startups and innovation since its inception, but academic research is starting to benefit. The funding of anything from Project Hexpod that funds the building of Stompy, an 18-foot rideable walking robot, to saving abandoned or abused animals across the globe or getting creative projects started takes place via crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others.

The rise of crowdfunding for academic research

Traditional funding for academic research is often hard to obtain, limited in scope and time consuming to pursue. As an alternative, crowdfunding creates a platform where there are essentially no limits on potential funding. While time is still involved in explaining research ideas, goals and methodologies funding research through crowd donations is growing in popularity.

Microryza, a research-based crowdfunding site, launched at the start of 2012, and it follows other platforms suitable for academic research, such as iAMscientist and PetriDish.org. While risk is inherent in funding academic research, this type of research fuels technological advancements, breakthroughs in medicine and so much more.

Engaging the crowd for crowdfunding of academic research

Part of the appeal to the crowd is being a part of scientific advancements, whether it is in areas that evoke passion or for the learning that is involved in watching a research project grow. Scientists who put their work up on crowdfunding sites also seek insight and feedback on their research and the processes involved in it.

Because there are not always tangible rewards to those who donate through a crowdfunding platform, these intangible rewards that make people part of scientific history are attractive. In addition, many researchers offer rewards in the form of donated prizes. The combination of both tangible and intangible rewards serve to attract both non-scientific and scientific crowd members.

The future of academic research, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing

As more scientists discover and turn to crowdfunding, the number and type of academic research studies are likely to grow exponentially. The increased access and speed of funding through platforms that fund projects with the crowd are poised to play a major factor in future scientific advancements and discoveries. With the research funded through crowdfunding platforms, academic researchers can leverage the crowd to conduct the actual research through crowdsourcing of surveys or data sets, too.

Tapping into the collective consciousness of the crowd allows for the quick completion of surveys and questionnaires to help mold and develop academic research. In addition, massive amounts of data are easily de-duplicated, cleansed, organized and analyzed by the crowd under parameters set by researchers.

All this translates into a promising future for academic research, the funding of it through crowdfunding platforms and the completion of primary research or making sense of research data sets through crowdsourcing. Crowdfunding platforms generated more $1.5 billion in 2011, and that amount is expected to double in 2012, which opens the door to an infinite number of tasks suitable for crowdsourcing.