Giving science back to the people, my science crowdfunding experience.

By Hammad Kazi

In the age when doubt is often cast on the credibility of information, I believe that the scientific method provides a reliable platform to investigate problems and better understand the implication that such analyses may bring. After all, experimentation has been an approach that has long been used by us humans as we marveled at the microscopic and the macroscopic wonders around us. Scientific research comes at a cost, however, and it is important to get potential funders ‘excited’ about the background and application of the research. This is where Crowd.Science has managed to create a niche for itself and my recent experience confirms this. 

As I was about to begin the fieldwork for my MSc dissertation, I tried finding a platform which allowed budding scientists, upcoming academics or even students to crowd source their research. That’s when I came across Crowd.Science: an innovative platform where anyone can help fund scientific research being carried out at any level. Even if I hadn’t been looking for funding for my own research, this platform would still have appealed to me. The process was simple: sign up, complete a detailed brief, set your targets and begin spreading the word around. A panel of experts would review your application to ensure that it conformed to their requirements and that the project was scientific in nature, with importance being given to the implication of the research and how it could benefit society as a whole. Crowd.Science offers a more focused approach compared to the usual crowdfunding websites that would allow for science projects, but which may get lost amongst the plethora of literary, arts and tech projects. There is a challenge, however, in convincing people to contribute to the funding when they know that at the end of the project, they will probably be at the receiving end of a one-page abstract instead of a copy of a new book or a snazzy new gadget. But that’s the challenge that we, as scientists, must realise and address; it is upon us to pull out science from the depths of perceived confusion and the general impression that it is a field limited largely to people in white coats or with white hair. 

My experience of working with Crowd.Science was an experiment in itself. I needed a little amount to top-up my own contribution in gathering data from a consumer panel for my dissertation. I had been particularly interested in food waste problems and I wanted to understand why people throw away carbonated soft drinks: 230,000 tonnes of fizzy drinks are thrown away every year in UK homes (Waste and Resources Action Programme, 2018). Despite my project being posted on the platform for a brief period, I still managed to gather the humble level of funds that I was aiming for. More importantly, my project page on Crowd.Science gathered interest through social media networks. My research based on the consumer panel indicated how Social Practice Theory improved the econometric model that I had developed and how a higher level of wastage is associated with certain consumption habits as well as the impact of brand preference. 

In conclusion, I believe that Crowd.Science is a platform that enables scientists to effectively fund their research as well as allow people to become a part of understanding and contributing to the great benefit that can be brought about by the proper implementation of scientific methods.  

References:
Waste and Resources Action Programme (2018). Household food waste: restated data for 2007-2015. [online] WRAP. Available at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/courtauld-2025-baseline-and-restated-household-food-waste-figures [Accessed 23 Dec 2019].

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