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Is it possible to crowdfund a PhD, like crowdfunding business?

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    People will fund solar roads, so I guess they'll fall for anything. So the answer to your question is yes. But does that help? What would a helpful answer look like?
    – 410 gone
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 8:41
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    People donate money towards things like cancer research quite happily -- some of that money probably indirectly goes towards funding a PhD student. I think it's possible, but you'll probably need an insanely good sales pitch that has a chance of going viral in order to succeed.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 9:24
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    PhD - very unlikely (it is not a cool project you can 'sell' to crowds; plus, if you are famous enough to get such funding, you can get any other funding as well). Certain projects within PhD - maybe. Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 11:28
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    There are news articles and anecdotes about crowd funding research (not a PhD specifically). npr, scientificamerican - I'm sure other examples can be found.
    – user10948
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 23:16
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    Isn't applying for grants/fellowships/scholarships essentially a form of crowdfunding?
    – tonysdg
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 17:24

3 Answers 3

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While I'm sure its possible I haven't been able to find any examples of funding an entire PhD. However, there are quite a few examples of people crowd funding smaller individual research projects. I think there are two main reasons for this cost and accessibility.

Cost

It is really quite expensive to fund an entire PhD. If we look at the costs of a PhD (in the UK) we get.

  • University fees: ~£4000 per year (~£15000 for non-EU students)
  • Living expenses/stipend: ~£12000 per year
  • Conferences/equipment/other stuff: ~£2-3000 per year +
  • approx £20000 per year for 3-4 years = ~£60000 (>$100,000)

Compare this to the average successful crowdfunding amount of $7000 and you'll see why it'll be hard to raise that sort of money and would require a very strong marketing campaign. Which brings us nicely onto

Accessibility

One of the things a successful crowd funding project needs is a good sales pitch. You need to have a very clear goal that will excite lots of people to fund you. Not many PhD projects I know could possibly fall into this category.

For conventional crowd funding you also need to give something back to supporters to make it worth their while. While I suspect this would be less true for crowd funded research there are many people who might like to support you but cannot/will not without the prospect of some tangible return.

What seems to be more common is to fund smaller individual projects for ~$10-20000. For example http://blog.gogetfunding.com/crowdfunding-statistics-and-trends-infographic/ although there are some bigger and smaller examples in this article http://www.onlinephdprograms.com/dollars-for-doctors-a-guide-to-crowdfunding-academic-research/

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There is a crowdfunding platform for PhD students. Archived version is here. The portal matches your research topics to the right commercial interests. Right now it contains 6808 students, but only 51 projects and 10 sponsors so I doubt about the activity of the site.

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a) People crowdfunding because they want something in exchange, a better world,clean some shame, a videogame and such.

b) PhD is a personal matter where the only people that earn something is the student. In a personal case, i want to obtain a PhD, however, i don't want others to obtain it, specially colleagues.

So a) and b) are opposite.

Then, the best way to achieve b) using a) is cheating. Like already said, for example, using marketing or being creative.

I believe your question is wrong, because if you are thinking in a PhD then, if you are reached at this stage of your life then you must have enough experience to know how this World works.

PhDs are expensive for many reasons, one of them is to "separate the wheat from the chaff", they think that if you are enough smart to accumulate such money then, you are enough smart to take the PhD (IMHO: but not enough smart to decide to not to do it and run your own business). However, it is not always true, some PhD are not quite rich nor brilliants, they are just "floating around here" (yes, im recalling some teacher that i had).

PS: it is not a personal attack but more likely an analysis to your question.

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    Your answer really makes no sense. What do you mean by "I don't want others to obtain it, specially colleagues?" The point of PhD's are to expand the domain of knowledge through original effort—not to gain some sort of advantage over a colleague.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 21:41
  • And while you claim this is not a personal attack, your original response was straddling the boundaries of it.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 21:42
  • @aeismail I believe magallanes's comment of "I don't want others to obtain it" was making the point that if I have a PhD, I prefer there to be fewer people with PhD's as they are my competitors. I don't believe that was trying to say that the goal is to keep one's research private.
    – earthling
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 7:58

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