Syllabus for 2014 video training class

The SciFund video class will require less equipment than this. And will hopefully have a fewer explosions than a Michael Bay film.

The SciFund video class will require less equipment than this. And will hopefully have fewer explosions than a Michael Bay film.

The first SciFund Challenge video training class starts next week and we are excited! Here’s our syllabus.

SciFund Challenge Class: Video Outreach 101 for Scientists

Course instructors: Elliot Lowndes, Jai Ranganathan, Anthony Salvagno
Course dates: November 2-December 13, 2014 (six weeks, with one week off for Thanksgiving)

This short course is intended for researchers that are new to science outreach through video, but are interested in getting started with it. The philosophy of this class is that three factors tend to keep scientists from doing video outreach: a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience, and a lack of a community that supports outreach. The purpose of this class is to do something about all three of these things.

In this class, we will be putting a focus on communication and community-building between class participants, emphasizing face to face communication (using tools like group video conferencing with Google Hangouts).

At the end of this class, class participants should have:

  1. An understanding of how to communicate their science in a manner that is compelling to a general audience.
  2. A basic comprehension of the key elements needed to make a short film, such as storyboarding, script writing, editing, and lighting.
  3. Some confidence to get started with video outreach.
  4. A completed short video (5 minutes at most) about their research.

There are five weeks in our short course and a specific plan for each week. At the beginning of each week, or shortly before, you’ll receive the plan and assignments for each week. Here is the overall plan for the class, week by week:

Week 1 (November 2-8): Crafting your message
We’ll work on the tricky challenge of how to create a compelling message out of the often-hard-to-explain research that we do. The focus of the week will be a technique called the Message Box. Developed by COMPASS and roadtested by hundreds of scientists, it is a proven method for shaping science messages. We’ll be working on these tasks both individually and in groups.

Week 2 (November 9-15): Script writing and storyboarding
This week will center on planning out our videos. How do we convert our science messages into compelling visual stories? This is where a planning tool known as storyboarding comes in, which we’ll use for our science videos.

Week 3 (November 16-22): Lighting and sound
How do we use lighting and sound to produce videos that people will actually want to watch? That’s the focus of the week and we’ll also start shooting scenes from our storyboards.

Thanksgiving Week (November 23-29): Off

Week 4 (November 30-December 6): Editing
This week will be all about editing our separate shots into a cohesive whole, using iMovie editing software. We’ll also touch on where to find images, sound, and video that you can legally use in our own videos.

Week 5 (December 7-13): Wrap-up, color correction, and sound effects
In the last week, we’ll make the final edits to our video. We’ll also talk about the basics of color correction and sound effects.

Twitter Chat Storify

If you’ve never experienced a Twitter chat, it can be quite overwhelming. There are so many conversations happening simultaneously and it quickly becomes difficult to keep track of them all. Luckily there are tools that help organize those tweets and preserve them. One such tool is Storify which I use to catalog today’s Scifund Twitter chat. If you had issues keeping up, missed the chat, had to leave early, or would just like to re-experience it then you are in luck…

This is for you:

2014 Outreach Class: Week Five

Going strong through the finish line, SciFund-style.

Going strong through the finish ilne, SciFund-style.

Welcome to week five of the SciFund Challenge outreach training class for scientists. This is our last week, sadly! But the fun doesn’t stop here, as there are lots of SciFund classes coming, as well as other ways to keep participating. Apply for our free video class, which starts next month!

This week, we’ll be working on our elevator pitches, as well as planning for our science outreach futures. The workload this week is lower than usual, as many are still working on their Ignite talks from last week. If you want more to do though, not to worry! We have a special optional exercise for you. So, here’s the game plan:

  1. Finish up your Ignite talk and practice with a partner (use #SciFund hashtag on Twitter to find a partner).
  2. Learn about elevator pitches and record yourself giving one.
  3. Put your pitch video on the SciFund wiki and comment on the pitches of others.
  4. Make a public pledge about your science outreach plans.
  5. Talk about your science outreach plans in a group discussion section.
  6. Twitter: live group discussion

Part 1: Ignite talks. If you haven’t yet finished yours and practiced with a partner, please do so. If you are looking for a partner, please do post a note on Twitter and the Google+ page for the class.

Parts 2 and 3: elevator pitches. An elevator pitch is a compelling and short speech (two minutes or less) about your research intended for someone who isn’t in your field. Think of it as what you might say to a member of the public who you just met. As a first step, please read this short article in Nature that discusses how to give an elevator pitch. The article features Nancy Baron, who wrote the book chapter about the Message Box that we read in week two. The article should seem very familiar, as we have covered in depth many of the topics discussed there (stay away from jargon, etc.).

Once you have read up on elevator pitches, please prepare a two minute pitch about your own research. As you put your pitch together, remember all that we have covered in this class about effective communication (your Message Box, remember your audience, etc.). Although you are welcome to make brief notes, it is a terrible idea to actually write out a full script. Written language is very different than spoken language and nothing is more excruciating than hearing someone recite a script.

Please record a video of yourself giving your elevator pitch and upload the video to Youtube (please see step 8 from week one’s instructions for reminders how to do this). Hopefully, you will find a big difference between this video and the one you recorded at the beginning of this class! Here’s a pro tip for being more animated while recording video: imagine yourself talking to a person who is just behind the camera. Please post your YouTube video on the class’ Google+page and include a link to your week one video in that post (please mark your post with the category of Week Five).  See the Google+ page for the class for an illustration. Please comment on the videos of at least three other class participants.

Part 4: your science outreach future. The purpose of this class is to give you the tools and community you need to actually get started with science outreach. So, let’s get started! Please make a general plan for your science outreach activities for the next six months. As you are planning, think of all of the activities we have done in this class, along with the awesome outreach stuff others in the class are already doing. So that we all can know what we are planning, please write your outreach plan on a Google document that I posted on the Google+ page for the class (under the category of Week Five). A key reason we want you to write your plan down, where others can see it, so that we can hold each other accountable. As part of that, we’ll be publicly posting these outreach pledges on this blog.

For those of you who are considering blogging, you should know that we’ll be starting shortly a series of group blogs right here on SciFund Challenge. All of you are welcome to start a blog, which we’ll be prominently featuring. We have two requirements though! First we want you to pledge, for the blog as a whole, to post at least once a week. That is, the blog should have a new post at least once a week (which is easier to do when there are multiple people behind the blog). And the second requirement is that there be more than one person behind each blog. If there are other people in the class who you have found interesting, you are encouraged to team up with them for a group blog (you can find each other easily, as all of your contact information is on the google+ page for the class). Note though that people who are blogging with you don’t need to be part of this class. Please get a hold of me, if you’d like to sign up for a group blog on SciFund Challenge.

Part 5: discussion sections. Please sign up for a discussion section for this week to talk about your outreach plans.

Part 6: Twitter. There have been a lot of questions over the past several weeks from class participants about Twitter. What do you do with it, exactly? One thing that Twitter can be very useful for is group discussions. To give you a sense of the potential value of a Twitter discussion, we’ll be doing a live Twitter chat this week on Thursday, October 23 at 4 PM Pacific (UTC−8). For an hour, beginning at 4 PM, we’ll be using the #SciFund hashtag on Twitter to talk about our outreach plans, as well as anything else about the class that comes up. So, please do participate by tweeting with #SciFund at that time!

New #SciFund-supported paper!

Jet fuel from algae!

Fuel from algae! Will the wonders of #SciFund science every cease?

I am incredibly excited to announce that a new scientific study partially funded through SciFund Challenge crowdfunding has been published.

Dr. Stephen Herbert is a professor in the Department of Plant Science at the University of Wyoming. He was also part of our very first round of science crowdfunding, way back in November 2011. His crowdfunded research has just been published in the Journal of Applied Phycology.

His research focuses on environmentally-friendly fuel – in particular, fuel made from algae. Algae might just be the ultimate renewable resource. There are lots of issues to be solved though before algae-fuel ends up at your local gas station. One problem is that large-scale harvesting of algae for fuel is still very expensive. In the research that was just published, Dr. Herbert – and his co-author Dr. Levi Lowder – detail a new method of genetic engineering for algae that shows huge promise for bringing those harvesting costs down.

You can check out the paper in the Journal of Applied Phycology here. A bunch of SciFund-supported research papers have been published and you can see the full list here.

And definitely take a look at Dr. Herbert’s crowdfunding video back from 2011!

Incredible science outreach!

No Squidtoons, YOU are fabulous.

No Squidtoons, YOU are fabulous.

So the 2014 SciFund Challenge Outreach 101 class is in the final dash to the finish! The best part of the class for me has been learning about all of the amazing science outreach programs that class participants are already conducting. Here are just some of the incredible things that scientists in the class are doing.

Getting kids excited about robotics

Juan Pablo Carbajal, a physicist at the University of Gent, runs a nonprofit – Dwengo – that gets kids excited about getting involved in robotics. Dwengo has such an inspiring mission: to give every child the chance to build a robot before the age of 18. Check out their video:

 

They Blinded Me with Science

Nichole Bennett, an ecologist at the University of Texas-Austin, is behind the They Blinded Me with Science radio show. It is an awesome weekly science radio talk show featuring guest researchers and science news. You can find it on 91.7 FM KVRX, if you’re in Austin, Texas. Not in Austin? No worries: Nichole has got you covered. You can listen over the internet. And check out an episode right here:


Because Nichole cannot be limited to just one communication medium, she also runs a free outdoor science lecture series in Austin: Science under the Stars! So, next time you are in Austin, go get some outdoor science.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 11.18.39 AM

These sharks are checking you out.

Squidtoons: incredibly awesome science comics

Garfield Kwan, a marine biologist at the University of California-San Diego, is the artistic genius behind Squidtoons. Seriously, this is the best science comic series I have ever seen. You owe it to yourself to take a look.

Talking about conservation

Nathan Johnson, a marine biologist at Texas A&M at Galveston, is a contributing author for the blog BioDiverse Perspectives. It is a really incisive graduate student-run blog that discusses biodiversity and conservation research.

Talking about teaching science

Mirjam Glessmer, an oceanographer at the Hamburg University of Technology, runs a blog: Adventures in oceanography and teaching. How do we teach oceanography – and science more generally – in an interesting way? That’s what Mirjam deals with in her blog, which is crammed full of tips and techniques for those looking for ways to engage their students.

Zen & Ant’s tips for Ignite and blogging success

This bird knows the deal about outreach (click the links in the post to find out why).

This bird knows the deal about outreach (click the links in the post to find out why).

So, my fearless co-instructors for our Outreach 101 class (Zen Faulkes and Anthony Salvagno) have been giving great outreach advice lately on social media. In case you missed their thoughts, I thought I would do a round-up via blog post.

This week’s topic for the class is Ignite talks and Zen recommended a great blog resource for quickly creating a great Ignite talk.

Ant, who happens to be an ace graphic designer, wrote a fantastic blog post about how to develop a killer presentation.

And lastly, once you get an outreach program going as a scientist, how do you keep it going? There is no one better than Zen to answer this question, given that his blog NeuroDojo has been going for well over a decade. Zen was a moderator of a session last year at Science Online on the topic of “Blogging for the Long Haul.” Check out the video of the session here or a Storified version of the session here.

2014 Outreach class: week 4

#SciFund scientists: the podium awaits!

#SciFund scientists: the podium awaits!

Welcome to week 4 of the SciFund Challenge outreach training class for scientists! Last week we focused on delivering our message through blogging. This week we’re going to jump right into the deep end and have you work on public speaking. We are going to use a very specific format called an Ignite talk. Before we go any further, a big tip of the hat to microbiologist Dr. Siouxsie Wiles, who developed the material for this week’s exercise.

This week’s exercise has five parts:

Part 1: Watch a few Ignite talks.
Part 2: Prepare an Ignite talk.
Part 3: Practice your Ignite talk with a class partner.
Part 4: Talk about the experience of preparing and delivering your Ignite talk in group discussion sections
Part 5: Keep going with Twitter.

First off, let me start by saying: Don’t panic!

Preparing talks is usually a very time consuming affair for scientists. This exercise is not like that in any way.

So what is an Ignite talk? Ignite events are organised by volunteers and give participants the opportunity to talk to the public about something they are really passionate about. The catch is, they only have 5 minutes to do it in! Ignite’s motto is: “enlighten us, but make it quick”! Each participant brings 20 slides to accompany their talk; each slide advances every 15 seconds, whether the speaker is ready or not! This is what makes the format so challenging but rewarding.

Part 0: Finding a partner

We’ll be working with a class partner this week. On the Google+ page for the class, under the category of “Week 4″, you’ll find a table where you can find other class participants to partner with. Sign up on the table before doing anything else, as it may take a little bit for you and a partner to connect.

Part 1: Getting started with the Ignite format

Start by watching a few Ignite talks.
I really like Hillel Cooperman’s Ignite talk on Lego and Dianne Stronks one on smiling. And here is microbiologist Dr.Siouxsie Wiles, cheating a little doing a related format called PechaKucha where you get 20 slides for 20 seconds (so a whole 1 minute 40 seconds extra), but you get the idea.

Part 2: Preparing an Ignite talk

Think of an Ignite talk as a 5 minute monologue with timed visuals. To prepare your talk you will need to decide on a topic, prepare your 20 slides/images,and then  map out what you are going to say to accompany each slide. Again, don’t worry: you can do this exercise in a relatively short period of time.

As always with science communication, the first task in this exercise is for you to identify your audience. The more specific you can envision your audience, the better.

Once that is done. start by watching the following great Ignite talk on how to give an Ignite talk by Scott Berkun, while Cory Forsyth also has some great tips:

Choose your slides carefully. They can be informative (but avoid long quotes and complex diagrams), symbolic (back up the point you’re making) or decorative (an attractive screen to speak in front of). Try to avoid the situation where you’re trying to explain the slide, as that eats up your 15 seconds really quickly. Last but not least, be creative. 15 seconds per slide equals about 2-3 sentences, depending on how fast you gabble! If needed you can duplicate a slide (so the same image is on screen for 30 seconds).

Let me repeat, don’t panic! And don’t spend a week trying to get your slides together. You can do that when you do one for real!

To save preparation time, don’t write out a speech for your talk. At most, write out a word or phrase per slide to remind you of your points. This actually will make for a better presentation anyway, as hearing someone read a written speech is usually rather excruciating (written speech is very different than spoken speech, a point often forgotten by speakers).

Whatever program you use to prepare your slides, please save your file in Powerpoint format and be sure that your files don’t contain animations (read on to learn why).

Part 3: Getting some practice

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to insist you go out and give a real Ignite talk, but trying it with an audience is best. So, for part three of this week, we’ll be pairing off with another class participant to practice our talks. If you haven’t done so already, on the Google+ page for the class, under the category of “Week 4″, you’ll find a table where you can find other class participants to partner with. Try to find a partner who is not in your field. By Friday, please connect on your own with your partner to do your Ignite talks with each other, via Google Hangouts.

But how do you share your slides with each other on Google Hangouts? Read on!

1. The first step is to upload your Powerpoint file to Google Drive, which is Google’s version of online storage. But how do you get to Google Drive? Here’s one way. If you open your gmail account in a browser, the top left of the screen should something like the picture below (minus the big white box below the grid icon). If you click on the icon though, the white box should open up. Among the icons, you will find Drive. Click on the Drive icon.

Finding Google Drive. Click image for bigger version.

Finding Google Drive (click image for bigger version).

2. Now that you are in Google Drive (see picture below), click the white arrow in the red box (upper left of your screen) to upload your presentation. Once your presentation is uploaded, click the box to the left of the file name (again, see picture). Press the More button at the top of the screen (also in picture), followed by “Open with” > “Google Slides”.

Using google drive (click image for bigger version).

Using Google Drive (click image for bigger version).

3. Your presentation should open in a new tab or window, within Google Slides. Under the File menu of Google Slides, click “Publish to the web…”.

4. In the “Publish to web” box that opens (see picture below), select “every 15 seconds” in the “Auto-advance slides:” box. Click the blue Publish button.

Publish to the web box (click  image for bigger version).

Publish to the web box (click image for bigger version).

5. The “Publish to web” box should now show a text box that contains a long web link (see picture below). Copy and paste that link into a new browser window.

Getting the link for your slides (click image for bigger version).

Getting the link for your slides (click image for bigger version).

6. Your slides should appear in the browser. To play your slides, move your mouse over your slides in the browser window. You should see a series of controls appear in the lower left of the browser window (see picture below). One of those controls is a play button. Press the play button to play your slides. They should auto advance every 15 seconds.

Playing your slides

Playing your slides

7. When you are in a Google Hangout with your partner, you can present your slides to your partner by sharing your screen (the relevant section in those instructions is “Use the Screenshare app”). You should share just the browser window that contains your slides.

8. When you are listening to your partner’s presentation (and thinking of feedback), keep one question in front of your mind: is this presentation compelling for the intended audience? As before, keep an eye out for for jargon and double-meaning language!

Part 4: Group discussions

Once you and your partner have done your Ignite’s, let’s talk about it! We have scheduled a series of Google Hangouts for facilitated group discussions for the end of this week. You can sign up for a hangout on the Google+ page for the class.

Part 5: Twitter

Let’s keep rolling with Twitter, being sure to use the #SciFund hashtag so we can find your tweets.

Send at least three tweets about the Ignite talks you watch for inspiration.
Send at least three tweets telling us how you found the process of preparing or delivering your Ignite talk.

Where to go next:

If you fancy going out and getting some experience of public speaking, there are plenty of places you can start. Check out your local museum and see if they run a science cafe/cafe scientifique series. Or try local community groups, like Rotary, University of the 3rd Age (U3A) and Zonta. But for a real thrill, check to see if there is a local chapter of Ignite, Pecha Kucha or NerdNite in your town.

Good luck!

New FREE outreach training class for scientists: intro to video

The SciFund Challenge video class: your ticket to fame and fortune Spielberg-style.

The SciFund Challenge video class: your ticket to fame and fortune Spielberg-style.

UPDATE: We maxed out on applications for the video class, so registration is closed early. Not to fret though, as we’ll be doing this class again. If you would like to be the first to know about our new classes, sign up for our e-mail list.


SciFund Challenge is offering yet another outreach training class for scientists! This one is all about learning to make short videos!

Scientists, do you want to learn how to tell the public about your science through video? Do you want to have the skills to put together short videos that are compelling to general audiences?

But how do you get started with video? Join the SciFund Challenge community for our free online course aimed at helping scientists get started with video. Over 5 weeks, we’ll demystify the business of communicating science through video and equip you with the tools and confidence you need to get started. Plus, at the end of the class, you’ll have completed a short video about your research (perfect for your website or YouTube).  [Read more...]

Outreach Class 2014: Week Three

SciFund blogging: even more hearts and smiley faces than usual!

SciFund blogging: even more hearts and smiley faces than usual!

Welcome to week 3 of the SciFund Challenge outreach training class for scientists! Last week we focused on crafting our message. This week we’ll develop skills to deliver that message through blogging. This week’s exercise has five parts: A) take a look at a few science blogs, B) write a blog post, C) comment on others’ posts, D) talk about the blogging exercise in a hangout, and E) keep going with Twitter. As a small note, for those of you with your own blog, please do the blog exercise as we suggest and not on your own blog. [Read more...]

Outreach Class 2014, Week Two

Welcome to week 2 of the 2014 SciFund Challenge outreach training class for scientists! How do we craft a clear and compelling message from our science? That’s what we’ll be focussing on this week.

[Read more...]

New science crowdfunding article in The Lancet

The Lancet logoMedical journal The Lancet has a new article on science crowdfunding. It includes several quotes from co-founder Jai Ranganathan:

“Whether a project got funded or not really had very little to do with the project subject, it had everything to do with interest for the scientist and them engaging the public with their science”, says Ranganathan.

This quote echoes one of the major lessons we have learned from analysing the results of three rounds of #SciFund Challenge projects. we are also pleased to note that a modified and improved version of the paper is now in press in PLOS ONE. In the meantime, you can read an earlier draft of that paper here at the PeerJ pre-print server.

The article is not simply about crowdfunding medicine, but is more about the role that crowdfunding might play in getting research projects off the ground in days of contracting federal funding across the board.

Outreach Class 2014, Week One

What would YOU do in Week One?

What would YOU do in Week One?

Welcome to Week One of the SciFund Challenge outreach training class!  With this class, we have two goals. One: to build outreach skill levels. Two: to build a sense of community among class participants. So let’s get started with both!

For this week, we’ll be diving into the opportunities and pitfalls that outreach presents for scientists. We’ll also get started with Twitter, Google+, and video. [Read more...]

Scientists talk about their outreach experience, 2014

Note: this post is part of week 1 of the 2014 SciFund Challenge outreach training class for scientists.

What does doing outreach mean for scientists? Who better to ask than the researchers who regularly connect to the public with science. Below you’ll find a series of videos from scientist communicators talking about their outreach experiences. The videos are short, each lasting from two to seven minutes.

Sarah Klain, University of British Columbia
Sarah has actually experienced the outreach horror story that every scientist fears. Namely, her outreach efforts unexpectedly boomeranged around in a way that directly threatened her research program. Sarah talks about this experience as well as why she still does outreach.

Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy
Phil is one of the best-known science communicators around today, as evidenced by things like his extremely-highly-read Bad Astronomy blog and his quarter million Twitter followers. Here, he talks about his science outreach journey. Be warned! Phil is funny.

Caitlin Kight, University of Exeter
Caitlin has a wide outreach presence, from radio to blogs to general science writing. She talks here about her outreach career and the challenges of combining that with her research career.

Jai Ranganathan, SciFund Challenge
Jai is the author of this blog post and he enjoys writing about himself in the third person. Here he talks about why science outreach is critical to the future of science funding.

Alex Warneke, San Diego State University
Alex is one of the science bloggers at Deep Sea News and is deeply passionate about science communication. Here she talks about how and why she makes time for science outreach.

Siouxsie Wiles, University of Auckland
Siouxsie is a very visible presence in science outreach and not just because of her pink hair. Among the many science communication activities with which she is active, she blogs, podcasts, is involved with animation, and speaks on radio and television. In this video, Siouxsie describes how she started on her outreach path and her one negative outreach experience.

Syllabus for 2014 outreach training class

Godfather Part 2 poster

The second SciFund outreach class: just as epic as the Godfather, Part 2. There is somewhat less crime associated with our class, however.

The second SciFund Challenge outreach training class starts next week and we are excited! For those of you following along at home, here’s our syllabus.

SciFund Challenge Class: Outreach 101

Course instructors: Zen Faulkes, Jai Ranganathan, Anthony Salvagno
Course dates: September 21-October 25, 2014 (five weeks)

This short course is intended for researchers that are new to science outreach, but are interested in getting started with it. The philosophy of this class is that three factors tend to keep scientists from doing outreach: a lack of outreach knowledge, a lack of outreach experience, and a lack of a community that supports outreach. The purpose of this class is to do something about all three of these things.

In this class, we will be putting a focus on communication and community-building between class participants, emphasizing face to face communication (using tools like group video conferencing with Google Hangouts). With 161 class participants sprinkled all over the world, this is going to be an scheduling challenge, but we can do it.

At the end of this class, class participants should have:
1) an overview understanding of the many ways that scientists are connecting to the public with their science
2) an understanding of how to craft a science message compelling to general audiences
3) a little bit of experience with a wide range of outreach tools
4) the beginnings of their own outreach community
5) an outreach plan for the future

There are five weeks in our short course and a specific plan for each week. At the beginning of each week, or shortly before, you’ll receive the plan and assignments for each week. To give you a taster, here is the overall plan for the class week by week:

Week 1 (September 21-27): Getting started
We’ll start with group discussions about what are the barriers that stand between you and outreach. We’ll also get started with video production and Twitter.

Week 2 (September 28-October 4): Crafting your message
We’ll work on the tricky challenge of how to create a compelling message out of the often-hard-to-explain research that we do. The focus of the week will be a technique called the Message Box. Developed by COMPASS and roadtested by hundreds of scientists, it is a proven method for shaping science messages. We’ll be working on these tasks both individually and in groups.

Week 3 (October 5-11): Blogging
We’ll put our finely-crafted science messages to work, with our introduction to blogging. The focus here will be on messaging that is intended for non-specialist audiences and, as before, we’ll be doing this individually and in groups. If you are nervous about public blogging, not to worry. Everything we do here will be on a private blog that only class participants can see.

Week 4 (October 12-18): Public speaking
We will practice public speaking with each other, via group video conference calls. We will be using a very specific type of short public presentation, called an Ignite talk.

Week 5 (October 19-25): Your outreach future
Each of us will be coming up with an outreach plan for our future. We’ll also be practicing our elevator pitch with each other in group discussions.

There is a whole world of science outreach methods (podcasts, etc.) that we won’t have time to specifically practice in this class. However, we’ll be providing links to this greater world of outreach along the way to class participants.

FREE outreach class for scientists is back!

UPDATE (SEPTEMBER 2): Registration for our class has closed early. We have received over 170 applications in a week and we want to make sure that we don’t have more course participants than we can handle. We have more outreach training classes coming over the next few months and you can sign up for our e-mail list to keep informed.


Just like Doctor X, the SciFund outreach class is returning to a (computer) screen near you.

Just like Doctor X, the SciFund Challenge outreach class is returning to a (computer) screen near you.

The SciFund Challenge outreach training class is back, by popular demand!

Scientists, do you want to tell the public about your science? At a time of slashing cuts to science funding, maybe you want to explain to the public why your field deserves public support. Maybe you want to set the record straight about misconceptions the public holds about your field. Or maybe you just want to finally be able to explain to your friends and family what it is you actually do at work.

But how do you, dear scientist, get started with your outreach? After all, most researchers don’t have any experience or training in connecting the public with their science. That’s where SciFund Challenge comes in.

Join the SciFund Challenge community for our online course aimed at helping scientists get started with outreach. Over 5 weeks, we’ll demystify the business of communicating science and equip you with the tools and confidence you need to get started.

[Read more...]

Sci-lamanaders: the latest #SciFund supported paper

Denton et al. 2014Rob Denton, participant in Round 2 of #SciFund, has just published the latest peer-reviewed scientific paper to be supported by the #SciFund Challenge! (Click to enlarge the acknowledgements.) It’s published in Molecular Ecology, but Rob has a nice, plain English blog post describing the work in his scientific paper here.

That makes six papers from three labs that have been supported through #SciFund! You can find the list by clicking on “Coverage” above. It’s wonderful to start seeing the papers emerging from #SciFund. Ultimately, what can help convince skeptics of science crowdfunding is how many papers start to pile up that were made possible with crowdfunding.

Reference

Denton RD, Kenyon LJ, Greenwald KR, Gibbs HL. 2014. Evolutionary basis of mitonuclear discordance between sister species of mole salamanders (Ambystoma sp.). Molecular Ecology 23(11): 2811-2824. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.12775

External links

First publication from SciFund support

The big analysis is up as a PeerJ pre-print

PeerJA  preprint of our manuscript detailing what we learned from the first three rounds of #SciFund is up at PeerJ!

Much of the analysis you will have seen already here, and the manuscript is in peer review (fingers crossed!) right now. But we’re happy to have pulled everything together. Enjoy, and let us know if you have feedback!

External links

To crowdfund research, scientists must build an audience for their work

#SciFund round 4 analysis

#SciFund round 4 has concluded. I’m kind of excited to crunch the numbers to see how this round did in comparison. I’d already compared the goals of round 4 to the previous three here.

The total amount of money committed across all 23 projects in round 4 was $55,272, bringing our total across all four rounds of the #SciFund chellenge to $307, 825.

Without a doubt, this is my favourite graph (click to enlarge):

Round_4_Percent_Projects_Funded

We saw a big jump in the percent of projects completed. This is wonderful. This bodes well for some kinds of research projects to be supported through crowdfunding fairly consistently. A lot of the projects were ecologically oriented, so the full proposal success rates from NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology (dashed line) are a way to compare crowdfunding to traditional federal funding.

We still have to work on the dollars value of the individual projects (shown below), which is still low compared to federal grants. (Reminder: Dot is average, horizontal line is median, box is 50% of data, whiskers are 95% of data, stars are minimum and maximum.) Still, while I am disappointed in the amount, I am very happy with the trend. We are seeing steady growth, particularly in the top half of projects.

Round_4_dollars_raised

The growth is also apparent when we look at how close projects got to meeting their goal (indicated by dashed line). The average in this round of #Scifund was… 100%, or fully funded! Also note that this round saw the greatest overachievement we’ve ever had, with one project raising almost three times its project goal. I’ll discuss this particular rousing success in a later blog post.

Round_4_Percent_of_Goal

In previous rounds, we’ve seen that the amount that people give tends to be pretty constant, meaning success is all about the number of donors you have. This trend continues, as we see the average donation is about the same as round 3, or even a little lower:

Round_4_Mean_donation

While the number of donors each project is attracting is, as expected, up a little bit from previous rounds.

Round_4_donorsOne of the slight surprises for me is how consistent this round in with the previous three. This surprised me because we switched platforms (from RocketHub to Experiment). These are two very different platforms, with different funding schemes (especially in how they deal with unfunded projects), and presumably different audiences. And yet the net outcome was not dramatically different.

If you want to play with the data yourself (and see a few measures I haven’t discussed here yet), they are deposited over at figShare.

Lucky last!

Lee Stanish

We are not done yet, my friends!

While most #SciFund projects closed out yesterday, Lee Stanish’s project, Can microorganisms help protect our groundwater from contamination by hydraulic fracturing?, is still running, with a few days left on the clock. Lee is past the halfway point, so her project could make its target with a little effort. And it’s on a topic very much in the news these day: fracking.

Read more about Lee and her project in this interview, posted a month ago! And as a teaser, here’s an out-of-context quote about a favourite story she has from her research:

Turkeys would gather around us while we sampled, including a young male who was ready to mate…

After you’ve read about her project, you should go to Experiment and back her project!

Three in one day!

three_a_daySeemingly from out of nowhere, Amanda Bachmann’s project, Discovering Backyard Biodiversity in South Dakota, has become our sixteenth fully funded #SciFund project. That’s officially just over two thirds of all projects funded in this round!

This is turning into a fantastic round of #SciFund! Go to Experiment right now and join the fun! Let6s see how many projects we can close out, and end this round on a high note!