Crowdfunding propels scientific research

January 19th, 2015  |  Source: Washington Post

Today, an increasing number of academic scientists are paying attention to how their hair looks in photos, considering whether they should blog, and figuring out how to translate their life’s work into a brief and attention-grabbing YouTube clip for strangers.

Science historian David Kaiser says the trend is being driven by a flip-flop in how science research is funded in the United States. In the 1960s, the government supported two-thirds of the country’s research and development. These days its share is closer to one-third — with companies, philanthropic organizations and other private sources paying for the rest.

Bureaucratic bypass

Although the money being raised through crowdfunding sites is only a fraction of the roughly $435 billion spent each year on research and development in the United States, thousands of scientists are building their brands and research coffers on sites such as,, and others, with the blessing of their universities.

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