Crowdfunding is increasingly a legitimate way for researchers to get money for their work. Matt Salzberg — who found himself asking for crowdfunding two years ago to study rare quail in Mexico — founded PetriDish.org, a site dedicated to presenting budding science projects to a wide audience and getting funding for the researchers, says Veronique Greenwood at the 80beats blog.
There are currently nine projects on the site, ranging from a search for a new species of ant in Madagascar to getting wolf DNA for a population study. Salzberg tells Greenwood that the projects are picked on three criteria: projects that would be exciting for donors to be a part of, that could offer "fun perks or rewards to backers," and that are backed by quality science and done by researchers with legitimate credentials. "Ultimately, however, the beauty of our model is that the funding decisions are in the hands of the public to back the projects they want to see happen," Salzberg says. "We wanted to build a site where people could be part of the story, where you can make a new discovery happen—you can point to something and say, 'You know what, if it wasn't for me, this discovery would not have happened yet.'"