SUMMARY: Need to donate $250,000AUD/190,000USD to “improve science” in about six months, would appreciate advice on where to put the money.
An elderly relative of mine has sold a property and wants to donate a substantial amount of money ($250,000 AUD = $190,000 USD) to “improve science”, by which they mean metascientific efforts that industry or academia probably would be reticent to fund otherwise. Examples would be things like Registered Reports, efforts to ameliorate the replicability crisis, altering publishing incentives, etc. The money is available in 3 months and ideally would be donated within six months.
They are aware of my interests in Effective Altruism and my training as a scientist and thus want me to take care of it entirely. However, I am very junior and have little experience applying for grants let alone allocating money. Any recommendations for how I should go about most efficiently getting this money to improve science? Bonus points for doing it in a manner that would be tax-deductible in Australia (edit: international also ok).
Particularly good recommendations are likely to have a substantial impact on how this money gets allocated, so if you think you have a good idea I’d very much appreciate it. I can’t just give the money to AMF or the EA Funds, it has to be at least indirectly allocated to basic science or meta-science. I’m not sure who to ask – I’d speak to my PI, but it seems extremely awkward to go “hey, so I have this big potential source of funding that I can influence but it’s not for us, any advice on how to give it away to others?” I’d be happy to direct the money to be thrown into a bigger pile if there’s another group I haven’t heard of that either solely funds improving science or will let me allocate the money to that end.
Thanks to everyone who provided some suggestions last time I posted, including on basic science opportunities back when I was considering a slightly larger remit. Some suggestions I’ve already gathered:
- Supporting Prof. Chris Chamber’s efforts to encourage journals to take up ‘Registered Reports’ as an allowable publication submission method. * I am very supportive of this effort, but it seems that more and more journals are actually doing this and thus I’m not sure this is the best use of the money as it may just happen anyway. Prestigious journals like Nature Human Behaviour are allowing Registered Reports, there’s a list of journals that now accept the format, and Chris himself wrote in 2019 about increased uptake.
- Donating to ALLTrials, a group that tries to ensure that the data from all clinical trials is made publicly available so as to reduce publication bias/file-drawer problem.
- Their website asks for donations, but they are not clear on what they would actually use the money for. I tried contacting them and received no replies.
- They already have a large number of fancy organisations that support their efforts, so the marginal benefit of an extra $190,000 USD is unclear.
- The Center for Open Science attempts to encourage open science and meta-science improvements, such as the OSF registries for making datasets publicly available or initiatives to encourage preregistration and registered reports.
- They’re doing great work, but they seem to already be quite well funded so I’m again unsure if they’d make the best use of marginal increased donations.
- That being said, they seem closest to what I’m looking for so far, so they’re a good candidate at the moment.
- UPDATE: this may not be true, see this commentary
- Retraction Watch is a website/blog that tracks papers that have been or should be retracted so as to provide a record of sloppy or dodgy scientific behaviour. They are themselves funded by the Center for Scientific Integrity which includes some related efforts
- They claim to now be only reader supported (after having got an initial grant from a few larger foundations), so they’re another potential good candidate.
- They don’t seem to have a lot of money according to their tax returns, so perhaps it would be quite useful to them. Then again, if they’ve already been surviving, perhaps again it’s not the best use of the money at the margins…
- Sci-Hub makes paywalled papers publicly available to anyone on demand. It’s incredibly useful to the general public, and it’s often even easier to use than my own institution’s login credentials when I have legitimate access to the journal.
- I have no idea what their funding levels are currently like and whether they need any support
- I’m certainly not getting a tax deduction for a Bitcoin donation to support a technically illegal operation.
- Free Our Knowledge are trying to get academics to pledge to only publish in open access no-fee journals by amassing a critical mass of them.
- Seems like a good cause, but it’s not at all clear they need any more financial support than they already have. That being said, I’m informed that they are underfunded, so they’re a candidate.
- Open Science MOOC
- Run online modules that are supposed to encourage and teach open science practices
- The links on their website are currently broken, hard to assess quality and uptake
- Institute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education (IGDORE)
- A virtual institute committed to supporting open and replicable research as well as supporting scientists
- Immediate goals are to develop a package of open science support services and an educational platform to develop their own (new and improved) MOOCs
- Again seems like a good cause, but unclear if this will contribute much to affecting the culture at pre-existing mainstream universities/institutes where most of the science is still expected to be happening.
Thanks in advance! [Sorry for the lack of links, as a new user I’m limited to 5 links]