Fall crowdfund drive

September 12, 2012

A few days ago, I published the first installment in a series of posts leading up to the formal debut of our $25k meth crowdfunding project in the first week of October. Taking a page from political campaigns, I’m pleased to announce that anyone in the greater NYC area will be able to attend our formal crowdfunding campaign launch party, which will take place on the evening of October 4th (Thursday) at a venue in the Union Square neighborhood – details to follow shortly!


In this post, I’m asking for feedback on project perks and price points. A few weeks ago, I asked my Twitter followers what would motivate them to fund a basic science crowdfunding project, and they dutifully replied.


Responses fell into two camps. On the one hand, scientists approached the question as though they were on a grant review panel: is the science justified; is the experimental design technically sound; is the team experienced and competent; is this project likely to receive support from traditional funding sources?


On the other hand, non-scientists were more concerned with the big picture: will there be a tangible outcome that laypeople could understand; is the science engaging and interesting; do the scientists present a compelling narrative?


The trend toward openness and increased collaboration is picking up steam in academia. To reflect the burgeoning new world order, here are the proposed Open Science rewards for our meth project:


Free: All project data will be deposited on the data-sharing site figshare. Frequent blog and video progress reports will be posted on the online home of the project, perlsteinlab.com. The “crowd” will be formally acknowledged in any resulting scientific publications in a manner that reflects their contributions.


$10 or higher – A follow and shout out from the project Twitter account, and a public acknowledgment of scientific citizenship on perlsteinlab.com.


$25 or higher –A 3D laser printed molecule of methamphetamine, and an open-invitation to be a collaborator on figshare.


$50 or higher – A periodic, signed spending report will be emailed to you, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask a question about the project on Skype or G+.


$75 or higher – You’ll be invited to weekly “Open Lab Hours” on G+ to discuss project updates.


$100 or higher – You’ll get a hearty thanks in person, and the opportunity to talk science over a round of beer or glass of wine at a NYC watering hole one night after work, or when you visit NYC within the next 6 months.


$200 or higher – Invitation to a brainstorming session at a NYC communal workspace, e.g., Wix Lounge. We will discuss the project, and how to scale up an open approach to basic research crowdfunding.


$500 or higher – Get access to a Dropbox account where you can deposit input. We have final cut but we broadly invite thoughtful, constructive feedback.


$1,000 or higher – Attend up to 2 lab meetings during the project and 1 publication brainstorming session at the end of the project. You will also receive access to a Google Doc during the manuscript writing stage. Supporters who contribute substantially to the final manuscript may receive co-authorship.



Please let me know what you think about the updated perks and price points.


The next post in this series addresses what we already know about how amphetamines work.

And here’s the previous post, which is a project overview of Crowdsourcing Discovery.


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  • http://schamber.wordpress.com/ schamber7

    Do the larger amounts include the prizes from the smaller donation amounts?

    • http://twitter.com/eperlste Ethan Perlstein

      Yes, I forgot to mention that. Thanks for pointing it out! Though I think it makes sense to give people the option of opting out of something they don’t want it.

      I’ve seen some campaigns that offer a menu of perks, buffet-style. That is something we’re also considering.

      • http://schamber.wordpress.com/ schamber7

        Cool. Hey, looking forward to meeting you at the PLoS altmetrics workshop in November :)

        • http://twitter.com/eperlste Ethan Perlstein


  • http://twitter.com/boogie_on_ivy Rebecca Ivy Vislay

    Mark me down for $25! Who doesn’t like lasered meth?!? Best of luck, Perlstein Lab!

    • http://twitter.com/eperlste Ethan Perlstein

      Excellent! Thanks!

  • LJStewartTweet

    Ethan. Congratulations. These are creative… They capture many of the four R’s that were discussed at the Sage Congress back in April. Respect, Recognition of contributions, Reward, and Responsibility.


    I’m in for $100. I Will be in NYC Sept. 24-26 . Hope to meet you.

    Lance , lances@alleninstitute.org

    • http://twitter.com/eperlste Ethan Perlstein

      Thanks, Lance!! I’d be more than happy to meet when you’re in town. I’ll connect via email next week to coordinate.

  • Larry Kutner

    Interesting idea. Interesting model. I’m in for $100. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the gathering in NYC on Oct. 4th. How can I get you the funds? (Also, is Princeton going to try to take “indirects” if this approach to funding is successful?)

    • ethanperlstein

      Hi Larry,

      Thanks for your pledge! The actual crowdfunding project page is not live. It will launch on October 4.

      The money will be administered by the Neurology department at Columbia Med School, which is the home of the Sulzer Lab.


  • Chris Regnery

    Why not use an already-established crowdfunding resource like Kickstarter? I feel like that would certainly get more views overall. Of course, you could always use a multi-faceted approach and have multiple paths in which to get donations.

    I think I should be able to put in $25 and give up going out for one a week! Seems like quite a worthwhile tradeoff.

    • http://twitter.com/eperlste Ethan Perlstein

      We’re live on RocketHub as of last Thursday: http://rkthb.co/11106

  • Polz

    Hey Ethan,
    I think this is a GREAT idea. I wonder why this concept has not become more popular for funding projects? I came accross this on a chemistry blog and I was fascinated. I am a grad student at Columbia working on my PhD in chemical neuroscience. Put me down for 100$. Where can I donate? I would love to connect and hear more abou your work. Good luck!