W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Each dreamer gets one topic. Ready to move toward your dream? Come in and open a topic in your name so we can note your progress, cheer you on, console you, curse your enemies, take up collections and generally keep track of you and your excellent dream.

Moderators: Tituba, BarbaraSher

W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby punkmebillie » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:11 am

I’ve been reading Julien Smith’s blog, In Over Your Head (http://inoveryourhead.net/), which I recommend highly, by the way. He writes a lot about putting yourself on the line and doing whatever it is you want to do, and he has really inspired me to start a business of my own rather than keep up the perpetual search for a “better job”.

So I’ve been brainstorming about what type of business I might enjoy and what my talents and gifts are. I have no interest in selling anything; I’m really interested in some type of service business.

My greatest talent, and what I do all the time, every day of my life, because it sucks me in and I love it, is research. I read copious amounts of non-fiction; I’m online constantly researching anything and everything, simply because I have to know. People ask me for information, and I find it for them. It appears that it’s kind of my role in life, to find out things for myself and others.

Anyway, when I did a search online for research careers, Information Broker immediately came up. Sounds like a great possibility, but in further researching the field, it appears that a Master’s degree in Library Science is the minimum requirement.

Although I love school, and I take classes from time to time for my own interest, at this point, I have only an Associate degree in English. I would be perfectly willing to go back to school for a degree, if the degree is in a subject I am interested in. I have absolutely no interest in obtaining a degree in Library Science, and I hate to think of spending all that time, effort and money working towards a degree in a subject I’m not interested in so that maybe eventually I might be able to work as in Information Broker.

The other thing about it I didn’t care for is that it appears Information Brokers deal a lot in things like market research, background checks, etc…not terribly inspiring.

The other obvious path is to get a degree in a specific subject and go into research in that area. But I feel that would be too limiting to me. I’m more interested in doing research in a variety of areas.

So I’m racking my brain trying to come up with niche for myself that would lend itself to opening a small business. One of the things that really appeals to me is doing research for writers. I know Stephen King has a personal research assistant. But again, that would be working for someone else, as opposed to owning my own business. And I still am more interested in variety.

I’m not a writer myself, and I don’t enjoy writing, beyond writing up a research paper or report, so I don’t want to write per se for a living.

I guess what I’m doing is trying to create a service business for myself as something like a freelance Project Research Assistant, so I can hire myself out on a project basis, and I want it to be less formal than an Information Broker type of business, but I’m not quite sure how to proceed with this.

Anybody have any ideas or suggestions as to how I might go about this? Any and all suggestions are welcome…
"I'm betting that I'm just abnormal enough to survive." -- The Tick
punkmebillie
Experienced Poster
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:35 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby tyretiredwave » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:39 pm

I don't have an answer for you but it was such an interesting questions that I wanted to tell you that I hope you find your way.
Terri Dogs have masters, cats have staff
tyretiredwave
Experienced Poster
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 71
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 12:50 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby punkmebillie » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:34 pm

Thank you...encouragement and support are as welcome and appreciated as ideas and suggestions!
"I'm betting that I'm just abnormal enough to survive." -- The Tick
punkmebillie
Experienced Poster
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:35 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby yonuh » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:11 pm

Go for it! Check out "Building and Running a Successful Research Business" by Mary Ellen Bates. Also check out Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) - they have a web site with lots of interesting info about the profession. You don't necessarily need a degree in anything to do Information Research, you just need to be able to sell yourself. I believe Mary Ellen Bates has a website, too. There's also the Special Libraries Association (SLA); although it's geared towards librarians, there's some useful information there.
yonuh
Experienced Poster
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 200
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:42 am
Location: AZ, Tucson

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby punkmebillie » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:44 pm

Thanks for the info Yonuh. I actually have been to the websites and read Mary Ellen Bates' book, and I agree there's a lot of good information there. I guess I'm just looking to go at it from a different angle, and trying for something that's, as I said, less formal and more personal. I would rather work one on one with people than work for big corporations, which is what the websites and books all seem to be geared for.

I'll go back to the websites and give them another look. Maybe I can get some more ideas. In the meantime thought, I'm still open for suggestions...
"I'm betting that I'm just abnormal enough to survive." -- The Tick
punkmebillie
Experienced Poster
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:35 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:52 am

Have you gone on LinkedIn, looked in some of the groups that might need researchers? I have a friend who roller skates around that site. I'll ask her for some advice. But she usually says to find the kinds of people you wish would hire you, then go into that group and start with the fireworks: write a brief piece on how to find (antique shoes? farmer's tools? shipping news?) and move to another such group and do the same. Just show what you can do in front of the right people.

Ditto Facebook groups. Have you snooped around there?

It just seems to me that you could get a job with one person, a historian or journalist, a museum curator or archaeologist or marine biologist or fashion historian or ... someone, and they'd recommend you to someone else. (Wondering about unexpected places to look for people who need research done, like Craigslist)
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:33 pm

Here's what my genius friend says you should do. She knows her stuff, and I talked you up:

"Here's some stuff to get him started. If he's as good as he says he is, this will keep him busy for a week, tracking down all the rabbit trails:

http://www.google.com/search?q=Writer%2 ... 1I7WZPC_en

In LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/skills/skill/Research?trk=tyah

(Be sure to scroll down to see Groups and Jobs)."

GOOD LUCK!!
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:38 pm

She wrote again:

He could also become a fact-checker. They have to do all kinds of research, too.

http://www.sunoasis.com/factchecker.html
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby Tituba » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:49 pm

I guess I'm just looking to go at it from a different angle, and trying for something that's, as I said, less formal and more personal.


Personal historian and/or genealogist
Tituba
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 9645
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2003 10:01 pm
Location: North Shore - Boston

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:28 pm

Just looked at that link myself. Wow. Here's the first entry:

FREELANCE RESEARCH JOBS : FREELANCE WRITING JOBS for Freelance ...
www.online-writing-jobs.com/jobs/freela ... h-jobs.php -

Current freelance research jobs to help freelance researchers find their next paying writing job. ... We are now on Facebook. Please join us. Freelance Writing Group ... New websites: Virtual Assistant Jobs *** ...
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:30 pm

How to Become a Writer's Assistant | eHow.com
www.ehow.com › Job Search & Employment -

The path to becoming a writer's assistant is to have a fundamental desire to assist a screenwriter or staff writer to accomplish tasks ranging from research ...

(from link 2 replies above)
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:32 pm

Opposition research. Every political campaign needs research and it's almost exclusively internet-based these days. It's a lot like what you describe -- diving into an issue (or person), learning everything you possibly can about it in a short period of time and then spitting it out as a useful narrative.

You could work directly for a campaign, for a political party or for a consulting firm. There's a variety to it and you end up learning a lot of random, interesting things along the way. The pay can be decent, but not spectacular and you may have to start as a volunteer and work your way up. I was a political researcher for years and I still miss it.
posted by fancypants at 1:31 PM on June 30, 2010
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:34 pm

http://ask.metafilter.com/158248/Do-peo ... -if-so-how

if you have any interest in medicine or disease states, you could look for a job in medical communications. Most large cities (throughout the world) have these companies. You can specialize in a disease state/therapeutic area and look up more and more info related to that field. If you wanted to break into this field, I would give you a heads up and say that some of the companies mainly hire PhDs and MDs.

However, there are people employed by these companies and they may have a journalism background or an MA in science, and understand the science and can also write – so there are ways in if this is what you wanted and you are persistent.

-Scraping the surface – I don’t feel that I am scraping the surface because 1) I often need to read original, peer reviewed journal articles in med journals (and for some of these specialize areas there is not much published yet) 2) talk to the investigators (national/international experts) and hear their perspectives 3) if you are writing a clinical trial, you are getting a lot of data...

-world of journalism/bleak – I have heard about the state of journalism but I’m not worried (special niche, companies will pay for it, and there are lots and lots of new medications in the pipeline). There is a lot of demand for this and a market for this – each project builds on itself and you will acquire more and more expertise. Note that in reality …I am writing for a med ed company or pharma company– I want the information so I don’t care who pays the bill in the end. But I think if you had a specialized niche that people are willing to pay for then the door is open.

I’m sure there are other types of companies that specialize in topic areas (besides medicine), but I don’t know what those are.

I really do believe in this when I am advocating it, too, if you have a special area that you are passionate about and know something about – why not create it and see if there is an audience? There are so many tools available to people now and you can create your own high tech content without a company behind you. If you have the time/energy/passion and the spare time, go for it. Own it yourself (vs write it for pennies or a few bucks for a low paying market)
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:43 pm

(same link as 1 reply above)

I've worked as a research assistant, but the jobs I got were through people I know; I don't know how you get jobs like that without connections.

I also worked as a fact checker, which I loved. I got to become a complete expert on some random subject for a week or a day, then set it aside and become an expert on some totally unrelated subject. In theory fact checkers don't do research, as the writers give the editors a fact checking packet with all the information in it and the fact checkers just go through and verify it; in reality, fact checkers do great piles of research, as writers are lazy people. :oops: I worked in magazine publishing, in New York City. You seem to be in California, which makes it a bit trickier -- but I do know there are freelance fact checkers working for book publishers, and I presume they don't have to go in to the office.
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Re: W: My Own Research Business O: No Advanced Degree

Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:50 pm

(I shouldn't be copying all these things to this thread, but I'm always afraid people will do what I do: look at a link, think, 'Maybe later,' move on and never come back. I'm fascinated and thought all of you might like to know this stuff - and there's lots more, all on the link that should be (by now) a few links above.)

If you want to deepen your research skills I'd suggest reading a book whose existence I discovered through Metafilter, Thomas Mann's Oxford Guide to Library Research (which is not at all restricted to 'book' research). Once you've read it, pick one of those weird little topics you're interested in and follow it into your local (big) library as well as the internets. See what you get. You could try something in an archive too: presumably you're familiar with some municipal archives in your area, for example. Archival digging is extremely addictive.

Once you've had a bit of fun doing this, you're probably ready to start offering your services as a research assistant--to academics, social research organisations, novelists... A friend of mine did some research in the Dublin city police archives* for a blind PhD student a few years back; he was working closely in collaboration with his, well, I guess client is the word, but in other archives I've met people who were just digging away, with very loose parameters set by clients who were living on other continents. Academics don't have much money, but this kind of thing gets written into grant applications. (There's a notice up in the archive where I'm doing research at the moment from someone offering exactly these services.)

Obviously I'm a historian, but I'm not suggesting you should limit yourself to doing historical work in archives (and not all archival research is for historians anyway): this is just an example, though if you want to develop a sideline as a researcher it would make sense to familiarize yourself with various different research resources that are available where you are, not just the online ones, crucial though they certainly are. Different kinds of academic, let alone different kinds of client, would be asking for different kinds of research.

As to selling your services, a carefully-worded website would be very useful [types terms "english copyediting" into google; smiles]. You could do a couple of bits of research on topics that are quirky, interesting, and likely to be relevant in whichever areas you're targeting, then post your write-ups as samples of your work--because you won't just be selling your services as someone who can research a topic, but also as someone who can process, synthesize, and sum up information (and quite possibly reference it to the required standard), too.
BarbaraSher
Mega Poster
Mega Poster
 
Posts: 6252
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 1999 10:01 pm

Next

Return to Idea Parties

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest