Let's say a student is not funded during the summer months but has a cool research idea that even their advisor thinks is tractable and important to the scientific community, and this student wishes to devote an entire summer pursuing research on this topic and forgoing a summer job / internship.

Can the student attempt to raise money on the Kickstarter or GoFundMe websites?

Are there any obvious restrictions or academic violations for doing so?

To me, it seems like a creative way to raise money, and I feel people would back the project too.

  • Try asking your university. They should be in a position to say yes or no definitively. – Lawrence Jul 14 '18 at 3:52
  • Overhead expenses and accounting may be a tricky question – Greg Jul 14 '18 at 6:57
  • You will find that there are many easier ways to get money. – Anonymous Physicist Jul 14 '18 at 10:45

There have been a number of successfully crowdfunded research projects already, see e.g. this write-up. Specific crowdfunding websites have even been set up for research projects, such as Experiment and Petridish. As you might guess from all this activity there is no general issue with crowdfunding research. However, your particular university might have specific policies or restrictions to be aware of. (Your advisor should know the right people to get in touch with to find out for sure.) I've heard that a common roadblock is that the university's accounting offices might not know how to (or want to) handle this kind of projects, where the funding comes from many small donations, rather than a central funding agency. In any case, there are no obvious global restrictions that apply.

There have been some other crowdfunding questions on this website you might be interested in as well: What are some tips for crowdfunding science off websites like PetriDish?, and Can a PhD be crowdfunded?.

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