This blogpost is an excerpt from our excellent guide: “Preparing for Academic Consultancy: what you need to know“
1. THE RELATIONSHIP
Academic consultants are paid for their expertise by organisations who are not funding research. So you need to get used to a relationship that is client/consultant not funder/researcher.
2. TWO MASTERS
When you work on consultancy projects you won’t be employed by the commissioning organisation or your usual employer. You’ll have relationships and responsibilities with both.
When you work on independent projects, your employer may place restrictions on what institutional resources you may use. These can include IP, insurances, licenced databases and more. You need to check what the restrictions will be (if any), including seeking the right permissions to work independently.
4. SHORT-TERM VIEW
Consultancy projects tend to be short term in nature. But they often lead to longer-term relationships.
5. APPLYING EXPERTISE
Knowledge generation is not the primary purpose of consultancy. The focus is on applying existing knowledge and expertise.
6. ADVISORY APPROACH
Work often focuses on providing advice which can be through conversations, as well as written documents.
As the nature, scope and focus of engagements can change over time, this type of work can be challenging.
8. LARGER NETWORK
Consultancy can bring you into contact with a wider network of individuals and organisations from different fields and sector.
Consultancy in policy fields can be fast paced, customer focused and evidence informed. But as there’s no obligation to act on your advice and recommendations, this type of work may be contrary to your outlook.
You’ll need to scope and assess work up-front to negotiate payment with your clients. We recommend that you seek advice in this area.
About the authors of our guide
Niel Mclean – Niel has over 20 years’ experience of working within Government agencies in the education sector. He has commissioned and led research in the public and private sectors. Niel has also advised on policy, including developing evidence-based bids to treasury, shaping strategies and leading multi-million-pound Government programmes.
Tim Rudd – An independent researcher, Tim has a wealth of experience when it comes to designing and delivering national and international research projects. A founder of Livelab, a research and development organisation, he also works for the University of Brighton. Tim’s research specialisms include educational theory and educational technologies.