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Science Technology

Microryza Brings Crowd-Funding To Scientific Research 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the collection-plate dept.
Zothecula writes "Crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter have proven popular for groups and individuals looking to get a consumer product, movie, music or video game project off the ground. Now a group of researchers and scientists is adopting a similar crowd-funding model to raise money for scientific research projects. The Microryza website, which launched this week, lets the public get behind research they care about and maybe help it get out of the lab."
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Microryza Brings Crowd-Funding To Scientific Research

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  • awful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:26AM (#39692587)

    We need to get away from this mindset that it's OK to let rich people have more of a say in charity (which includes academic research) than poor - it simply doesn't work.

    There's a reason China's winning while the West's in the shitter: long term, high investment projects such as academia, infrastructure and industry are lifted up and celebtrated by Chinese government, while America and the UK have little interest in helping anyone but the banker. You tax and then you assign the money to projects which will help the country.

    (and those who do not want to live in society, are welcome to reject *all* its advances and protections)

    • The more additional sources for scientific research there are, the happier I am. Some people genuinely aren't good at going through the hoops to get government funding, or don't function well within the academic political piranha tank. To say nothing of recent serious questions being raised over the quality of some academic research.

    • Re:awful (Score:4, Insightful)

      by flyneye (84093) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:39AM (#39692669) Homepage

      Yes, but now Im a bit put off by whether or not the sites are administrated well enough for them to take responsibility for de-trolling their site. I could end up either having my project removed for being stalked or having a project I fund disappear due to the ineptitude of those running the circus.
              Whats my motivation again?...

    • The money the US spends for basic research in universities is going up in real dollars every year. I don't know where, or how, you came to the above conclusion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:26AM (#39692591)

    What's the point of linking to the useless "Gizmag" article when the Slashdot summary contains basically the exact same content? Furthermore, why the hell does the "Gizmag" article even exist, when at the bottom of it, it in turn links to an article at some "Ubergizmo" site that also says essentially the same thing?

    Worst of all, the Slashdot summary doesn't even fucking link to the Microryza [microryza.com] website!

    Cutting out these useless middlemen blog articles and linking directly to the site being discussed is a lot more efficient, you know.

  • by Patch86 (1465427) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:33AM (#39692623)

    I was actively excited when I read TFS. Looking at TFA, though, there's something that I don't like the sound of at all:

    Importantly, the researchers retain 100 percent ownership of their project and its results and get to choose how much material they disclose. While backers will generally like to keep apprised of project developments and findings, researchers aren’t obliged to provide updates.

    They want money from crowdsourcing, but they want to keep their findings to themselves? I'm not on board with that at all. If science is funded by the kindness of 1000 enthusiasts, it isn't acceptable to claim that the results are strictly yours to do with what you want. If you want money from the public, you have to accepts that the results belong to the public. Or at least you should do, in my opinion.

    Usually we let groups get away with claiming "ownership" over information on the basis that they need rewarding for their risky investment. If you take away that element, and they're not investing themselves, what right do they have to keep the information to themselves? To keep it away from "competitors"?

    I wouldn't give a penny to a project without at least some show of faith that they're doing the research for the good of the world, and not for themselves.

    • by Epell (1866960) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @09:55AM (#39693119)
      It has a lot to do with intellectual right policy in many research institution.
      The researchers don't really own their findings themselves. If the finding is lucrative, the university/institution takes a huge chunk of the money.
      If microryza forces the ownership to be shared with the funding sources/share all findings with public, then they have to sit through a whole lots of legal meetings for each institution they ever get involved with. Nobody wants that.

      Believe me, researchers will share their findings when time is right.
      Each publication is one extra line on their CV afterall.
      • There's no reason why those administrative components couldn't be taken care of by delegates selected by the funding crowds. A similar model would be a website that outsources its advertising tasks to affiliate websites, or musicians who join up with an indie record label. They need to spend their time doing what they do best, while profit-seekers handle the business side. In addition to sharing the results of their research, there's no reason why the funding crowds can't or shouldn't also share in any p

    • by tomhath (637240)

      I suppose it depends on the nature of the project; in the example of digging up triceratops fossils and sending them to a museum it makes perfect sense.

      But overall I think you're right. This isn't really crowdsourcing; more like begging for donations without any strings attached.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      More importantly, how to make sure that they really work on that project if they are not required to give updates, nor final results? So you make a new project "I want to investigate [some interesting question], I need $100000." Then after you got the $100000 you remain silent, except maybe after a while claiming "I've solved the problem, but I've decided to share the result with nobody." Meanwhile you enjoy the new flat you've bought with that money.

      So how to make sure there really was research going on wi

    • I would accept it if they reqired the researchers disclose how they will plan to license their results. Or they could do something like provide legal documentation for those researchers who choose to disclose. That way, crowd-sourcers could actively choose those projects that are both cool and fit their feelings on freedom of information.
    • An essay I wrote on that from 2001: http://www.pdfernhout.net/open-letter-to-grantmakers-and-donors-on-copyright-policy.html [pdfernhout.net]
      "Foundations, other grantmaking agencies handling public tax-exempt dollars, and charitable donors need to consider the implications for their grantmaking or donation policies if they use a now obsolete charitable model of subsidizing proprietary publishing and proprietary research. In order to improve the effectiveness and collaborativeness of the non-profit sector overall, it is sugg

    • Great thread here and it's awesome to see people asking these questions. Short answer: We're trying to do something new. That means we're working on finding the perfect balance, i.e., 'What hurdles do we need to tackle to actually change the way research is funded?' Ownership issues, how to disclose findings, IP, and how to build trust in the scientific community are things we debate everyday. And I can tell you this, we're 100% committed to making sure researchers give updates and engage their backers. W
  • Note (Score:4, Informative)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:38AM (#39692663)

    This is because of a new law that passed in the last week or so.

    Good news: crowd-sourcing of entrepreneurial dollars for small startups may really help some good companies, particularly where angel investing and venture capital financing are as hard to find as they are right now.

    Bad news: there were huge concerns about due diligence/accounting/accountability/regulatory structure/people using this for scams (plus, of course, how many just plain *bad* business ideas there are out there). I don't know what they wound up doing to address these, or to what extent it will work. When doing angel investing or VC, the lender has lots of personal contact and the investment is for enough money that there is generally some significant amount of due diligence work done. ("So... does your company actually sell anything?")

  • by l00sr (266426) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:43AM (#39692679)

    I want a pathogen named after me, dammit!

  • by Plammox (717738) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @08:45AM (#39692687)
    Cue all the nutters who believe (insert everyday technology) will cause (insert favourite ailment of choice), and will want to fund a project to prove their point [goodhealthinfo.net].
  • 10$ : Thanks.
    100$ : Many thanks.
    1000$ : Thanks!!!!11 We'll even say thanks in our published papers (acknowledgements)

    This model might not work as it has with games and other media.
    Just sayin'
  • by ankhank (756164) * on Sunday April 15, 2012 @09:36AM (#39693003) Journal

    from his Contrary Brin blog:

    "... how about crowd sourcing to help fund science research: Choose your own projects through Petridish [petridish.org]: a crowdfunding site, where scientists can showcase their research to the public. In exchange, you will receive updates, acknowledgement and/or various rewards (photographs, DVD, field samples, journal acknowledgment, or invitations to talks/dinner), plus the satisfaction of assisting scientists trying to understand our world. (Donations are not currently tax deductible.) Way cool."

  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @09:57AM (#39693137)
    And this is why: regular people aren't qualified to evaluate good research. They also aren't qualified to evaluate research progress. I don't think you can produce a sustainable system for funding without review from your peers. You need experts to look at a carefully designed research project and decide whether it's feasible, worth the investment and whether the researchers are qualified to do the work. A system built without peer review may be successful at first, but ultimately, it will lead to disappointment and wasted money. (That said, it would be better if there were a mechanism to donate your money directly to the NSF and NIH extramural research funding agencies with targets for, say, AIDS research or superconductors.)
    • Honestly, we're interested to hear more on why you don't think the idea of crowdfunding for research will work RE: "regular people aren't qualified to evaluate good research." With Microryza, we're trying to create a real-time update platform that is built around learning and discovery, meaning that researchers can give rich-media updates to their backers. We think this will put the emphasis on the process of research, let the public learn something new, and allow donors to keep researchers accountable. Do
  • I must have spent 10 minutes trying to get the website to give me the list of projects, preferably by theme, to which I failed.
    All I can see is three random projects on the main page.

    Those guys need to learn the basics of usability.

    • Hey Loufoque, you should be able to see 9 projects on the homepage; what browser were you using? Basically, we're in the process of continual iteration and that not only means getting more and more researchers involved (more projects), but building a "theme" type usability and having pages for each type of research as well (Neuroscience, Marine Biology, ect.).

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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