Today’s Thing focuses on crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and ‘citizen science’, which basically means getting the general public involved with funding and/or carrying scientific research. In some ways this makes a lot of sense: a great deal of research is government-funded (and thus funded by the taxes of the general public) and intended to be a public good, so crowdfunding is simply taking out a step in the process. Likewise, getting interested members of the general public involved in the research process is a wonderful method of outreach, and can do a lot to demystify the scientific process and give people a sense of ownership of research which their taxes may be funding.
I’ve encountered a lot of crowdfunding tools, many of which are used by friends of mine who are freelance writers, artists or craftspeople, but hadn’t known they were used to fund scientific research. As far as I’m concerned, using tools such as Kickstarter, Patreon, or GoFundMe is perfectly legitimate. My only caveat would be that anyone seeking to raised funds through such platforms should make sure they’re aware of any fees or conditions imposed, and factor them in to the funding target. I would also encourage researchers to consider the ethical implications involved in raising funds this way (if any member of the public is allowed to contribute, researchers could find themselves associated financially with individuals or organisations they may prefer not be connected with, for example).
As a librarian, I’m not sure I’ll be doing research that could be crowdfunded any time soon, but I can see the benefits of raising funds in this way.