People power

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    Crowd-funding gains traction as a way to support research.

    Researchers are starting to turn to crowd-funding as a way to support their work, says Simon Vincent, head of personal awards and training at Cancer Research UK in London. At the 20 September Naturejobs Career Expo in London, Vincent said that in a lean funding environment, seeking donors can be easier than navigating the grant-application process. “There's no peer review or middlemen,” he told conference attendees. “If you have a good idea and can convince enough people, you get the money.” But Vincent warned that crowd-funding — seeking funds through the online community — also has downsides. Traditional research-grant peer review provides quality control, a reality check and a way to hone and refine an idea, and the interaction with the funder can provide links to large, established networks in the scientific community. Crowd-funding, even with established sites such as, requires a lot of time and public interaction, Vincent said. Scientists often have to make a video about their research project and must stay in regular contact with donors, who can number in the hundreds.

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    People power. Nature 490, 133 (2012) doi:10.1038/nj7418-133b

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