Scientists should communicate with the public about their research. We've been hearing variations on that for years, but a recent decision by a group of scientists to use crowdfunding to ask for research dollars directly from the public has revisited this notion in a new way. I'm excited to be a part of it.
"Why is it a good idea for the public to do essentially what it already does - that is, support scientific research? The answer lies in the way it is funded. Crowdfunding relies on a lot of people making a small donation. All these donations add up to a bigger chunk of money that can support a project. It's like paying a little more in taxes, but getting to choose what your money is spent on. With crowdfunding, people choose to support the science that excites them. It gets them engaged in the act of discovery. They are buying into the research. Literally. Most crowdfunded projects offer rewards to the funders -- from a thank-you card to blog updates about the project, these rewards will keep the scientists meaningfully and directly engaged with the people who make their research possible."