- What is Research Consultancy?
- Benefits of Research Consultancy for PhD Scholars
- How to Get Started in Research Consultancy
- Skills Required for Research Consultancy
- Challenges and Potential Pitfalls of Research Consultancy as a Career
- Is it Worth to Take Research Consultancy as a Full Time Career?
- How can I Showcase my Profile as a Research Consultant?
As a research scholar, you have spent years conducting research and developing expertise in your field. While academia may seem like the natural career path for PhD scholars, there are other options that can offer exciting opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Research consultancy is one such option, where you can use your skills and knowledge to provide solutions to real-world problems while earning a good living. In this article, we will explore the potential benefits of research consultancy as a career path for research scholars, and provide advice on how to get started.
A PhD scholar in the field of mechanical engineering might have experience in conducting research on materials science and could use their expertise to provide advice to organizations that are looking to improve the durability and performance of their products. Similarly, a PhD scholar in the field of electrical engineering might have expertise in designing and optimizing power systems and could provide their services to companies that are looking to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.
In both cases, the PhD scholars have a wealth of knowledge and skills that can be applied to real-world problems, and research consultancy offers them a way to make a tangible impact while earning a good living.
What is Research Consultancy?
Research consultancy is a form of consulting that provides research-based solutions to organizations and businesses. It involves using your knowledge and skills to solve problems or address specific needs, and providing recommendations to your clients based on the results of your research. This is different from academic research, which is focused on generating new knowledge and contributing to the scientific community.
For example, an engineering research scholar might provide research consultancy services to a manufacturing company that is looking to improve the efficiency of its production processes. The scholar would use their expertise to analyze the company’s operations, identify inefficiencies, and develop recommendations for improvement. These recommendations could include changes to the layout of the production line, the adoption of new technologies, or the use of more efficient manufacturing methods.
Similarly, a research consultant in the field of healthcare might provide their services to a hospital that is looking to reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections. The consultant would use their expertise to conduct research on the causes of these infections, develop strategies for prevention, and provide recommendations to the hospital based on their findings.
In both cases, research consultancy involves applying your knowledge and expertise to real-world problems, and providing practical solutions to your clients. It requires strong analytical skills, the ability to communicate complex ideas effectively, and the ability to work collaboratively with clients to develop tailored solutions.
Benefits of Research Consultancy for PhD Scholars
Research consultancy can offer a range of benefits and opportunities for PhD scholars who want to apply their research skills to real-world problems, enjoy flexibility and autonomy, and increase their earning potential. Here are the list of benefits a research scholar can get by choosing a career as a research consultant.
Opportunity to Apply your Research Skills to Real-World Problems
One of the main benefits of research consultancy for PhD scholars is the opportunity to apply their research skills to real-world problems. Unlike academic research, which is often focused on theoretical or abstract questions, research consultancy requires the ability to identify practical problems and develop actionable solutions. This can be a rewarding and challenging experience for scholars who want to see the tangible impact of their work.
For example, a PhD scholar in the field of civil engineering might have expertise in the design of sustainable infrastructure. By working as a research consultant for a city or town, they could use their skills to develop infrastructure plans that are environmentally sustainable and cost-effective. This could involve analyzing traffic patterns, evaluating the suitability of different materials, or developing new technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
Flexibility and Autonomy
Another benefit of research consultancy is the flexibility and autonomy it offers. As a consultant, you have more control over your schedule and workload, and can choose the projects and clients that align with your interests and expertise. This can be particularly appealing for PhD scholars who want to balance their research work with other interests or commitments, such as family or travel.
For example, a PhD scholar in the field of mechanical engineering might work as a research consultant for a few months out of the year, allowing them to devote the rest of their time to their own research projects or personal pursuits. This could give them the flexibility to pursue multiple interests, and the ability to balance their work and personal life in a way that is rewarding and fulfilling.
Increased Earning Potential
Research consultancy can also offer PhD scholars the potential for higher earning. As a consultant, you are providing a specialized service that is in high demand, and your compensation can reflect that. Additionally, as you build your reputation and network, you can command higher rates for your services.
For example, a PhD scholar in the field of electrical engineering who provides research consultancy services to technology companies could earn a higher income than they would as a postdoctoral researcher in academia. Additionally, as their reputation and network grows, they could potentially earn even more, and even have the opportunity to start their own consultancy business.
How to Get Started in Research Consultancy
Getting started in research consultancy involves identifying your areas of expertise, building your network, developing your skills in communication and project management, and starting small to build your portfolio. With persistence and dedication, you can build a successful career as a research consultant and apply your skills and expertise to real-world problems. Following are the steps one needs to take to jump into the Research consultancy arena.
Identify Your Areas of Expertise
To get started in research consultancy, the first step is to identify your areas of expertise. This involves reflecting on your research experience and skills, as well as any specialized knowledge or training you have acquired. By identifying your areas of expertise, you can begin to narrow down the types of projects and clients you are interested in working with.
For example, a PhD scholar in the field of computer science might have expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning. They could use this expertise to provide research consultancy services to companies that are looking to integrate AI into their products or services.
Build Your Network
Another important step in getting started in research consultancy is to build your network. This involves connecting with potential clients and collaborators, as well as other professionals in your field who can offer guidance and support. Networking can be done through professional organizations, conferences, and online platforms such as LinkedIn.
For example, a PhD scholar in the field of materials science might attend industry conferences and workshops to connect with professionals in the field. They could also join professional organizations such as the Materials Research Society or the American Ceramic Society to expand their network and learn about new developments in their field.
Develop Your Skills in Communication and Project Management
Research consultancy requires strong skills in communication and project management. This involves the ability to communicate complex ideas effectively, work collaboratively with clients, and manage projects from start to finish. Developing these skills can be done through training programs, workshops, or by seeking out mentorship or guidance from other professionals in the field.
For example, a PhD scholar in the field of mechanical engineering might take a course in project management to develop their skills in this area. They could also seek out mentorship from a more experienced consultant in their field, who can offer guidance on effective communication strategies and project management techniques.
Start Small and Build Your Portfolio
Finally, to get started in research consultancy, it is important to start small and build your portfolio. This involves taking on smaller projects to gain experience and build a track record of successful work. As you build your portfolio and reputation, you can begin to take on larger and more complex projects.
For example, a PhD scholar in the field of environmental engineering might start by providing research consultancy services to a local community group that is interested in developing sustainable practices. They could use this experience to build their portfolio and reputation, and eventually expand their services to larger organizations or government agencies.
Skills Required for Research Consultancy
The skills required for research consultancy include analytical skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, project management skills, business acumen, and adaptability. By developing these skills, PhD scholars in engineering can build successful careers as research consultants, and apply their skills and expertise to real-world problems. Listed below are the key skills that PhD scholars in engineering should strive to develop:
Research consultancy involves analyzing complex data and information, and drawing meaningful insights from it. PhD scholars in engineering are already skilled in analyzing data, but they may need to develop additional skills in areas such as statistical analysis or data visualization to be effective research consultants. If you are not well versed with these concepts, then I suggest you to take few online courses to get yourself acquainted with these skills.
As a research consultant, you will be asked to help clients solve complex problems that require innovative solutions. PhD scholars in engineering have already developed strong problem-solving skills through their research, but they may need to hone these skills further by learning new techniques or approaches to problem-solving.
Effective communication is critical to success in research consultancy. You need to be able to explain complex ideas and findings to clients who may not have a technical background. This requires clear, concise, and engaging communication skills, both verbally and in writing.
Research Paper Writing Skills
In addition to the technical skills required for research consultancy, such as data analysis and project management, research consultants must also possess strong writing skills, particularly in research paper writing. Many researchers struggle with crafting compelling and impactful research papers, which can be a barrier to publication and recognition in their field.
A research consultant with expertise in research paper writing can help clients refine their research ideas, structure their papers for maximum impact, and refine their writing to ensure clarity and coherence. As a research consultant, you can offer services in research paper writing to help clients overcome one of the most significant challenges in academic research and achieve greater success in their field.
For example, in my recent article Writing an Effective Research Paper with 11 Major Sections, I provide a comprehensive guide for researchers and scholars looking to improve their research paper writing skills. By incorporating research paper writing skills into your repertoire as a research consultant, you can provide even greater value to your clients.
Project Management Skills
As a research consultant, you will be responsible for managing projects from start to finish. This includes defining project scope, developing project plans, allocating resources, and ensuring that deadlines are met. PhD scholars in engineering can develop their project management skills by taking courses or workshops in this area, or by seeking out mentorship or guidance from more experienced consultants.
To be successful in research consultancy, it’s important to have a strong understanding of business principles and practices. This includes knowing how to develop proposals and pricing structures, as well as how to manage budgets and expenses. PhD scholars in engineering can develop their business acumen by seeking out training or mentorship in these areas, or by partnering with more experienced consultants to learn from their experience.
Finally, research consultancy is a rapidly evolving field, and it’s important to be able to adapt to new technologies, methodologies, and approaches. PhD scholars in engineering should be open to learning new skills and exploring new areas of research to stay relevant and competitive in the field.
Challenges and Potential Pitfalls of Research Consultancy as a Career
While research consultancy can be a rewarding and lucrative career path for PhD scholars in engineering, it’s important to be aware of some of the potential challenges and pitfalls that come with the territory. These may include:
Balancing Multiple Clients and Projects
One of the biggest challenges of research consultancy is balancing the needs and demands of multiple clients and projects. As a consultant, you may be working on several projects simultaneously, each with different timelines, priorities, and requirements. It can be difficult to keep track of everything and ensure that you are meeting all your obligations.
Managing Client Expectations
Clients often have high expectations for the outcomes of research consultancy projects, and it can be challenging to manage these expectations and ensure that clients are satisfied with the results. This may require clear communication, regular updates, and a willingness to adapt to changing client needs.
Staying Up-to-Date with New Research and Techniques
Research consultancy is a rapidly evolving field, and it’s important to stay current with the latest research and techniques to remain competitive. This may require dedicating time and resources to ongoing learning and professional development.
Dealing with Uncertainty and Risk
Research consultancy often involves working with uncertain or incomplete data, and there is always a degree of risk involved in any project. It can be challenging to manage this uncertainty and mitigate risks to ensure that projects are successful.
Dealing with Contract, Legal Issues and Patents
As a research consultant, dealing with contract and legal issues is a critical skill that can set you apart from your competitors. By having a clear understanding of intellectual property laws, confidentiality agreements, and liability issues, you can ensure that your clients’ interests are protected and avoid any potential legal disputes.
One way to develop these skills is by becoming a patent agent or attorney. By passing the required exams and obtaining a license to practice, you can become a valuable asset to your clients and provide them with expert guidance on patent-related issues.
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a patent agent or attorney, I recommend reading my recent article “The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Patent Agent: Opportunities, Requirements, and Challenges.” This article provides a comprehensive overview of the requirements, opportunities, and challenges of this rewarding career path and can help you decide if this is the right path for you.
Building a Client Base
Finally, one of the biggest challenges of research consultancy is building a client base and establishing a reputation in the field. This may require networking, marketing, and building relationships with potential clients, which can be time-consuming and challenging.
While these challenges and potential pitfalls may seem daunting, they can be overcome with dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn and adapt. By staying current with the latest research and techniques, managing client expectations, and building a strong reputation in the field, PhD scholars in engineering can build successful careers as research consultants and make meaningful contributions to real-world problems.
Is it Worth to Take Research Consultancy as a Full Time Career?
Research consultancy can be a full-time job for PhD scholars in engineering, if they have the necessary skills and experience to meet the demands of clients and projects. Many research consultants work as independent contractors or start their own consulting firms, which allows them to work on a full-time basis and manage their own schedules and workload.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that research consultancy can be a demanding and unpredictable field, and success often depends on building a strong reputation, maintaining positive relationships with clients, and staying up-to-date with the latest research and industry trends. Additionally, research consultants often need to balance multiple projects and clients simultaneously, which can require careful time management and project coordination skills.
If you are considering pursuing research consultancy as a full-time job, it’s important to carefully evaluate your skills, experience, and goals, and to be prepared to invest time and effort into building your reputation and growing your business. You may also want to consider seeking guidance from experienced research consultants or industry professionals, and taking advantage of training and networking opportunities to build your skills and connections.
How can I Showcase my Profile as a Research Consultant?
There are several ways that you can showcase your profile as a research consultant to potential clients and employers:
- Build a professional website: Creating a professional website that showcases your experience, skills, and services can be an effective way to establish your online presence as a research consultant. Your website can include a portfolio of your past projects, client testimonials, and information on your areas of expertise.
- Develop a strong LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn is a popular platform for professional networking and can be an effective way to showcase your skills and experience to potential clients and employers. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and includes information on your background, education, skills, and experience as a research consultant.
- Attend industry events and conferences: As a research consultant, making an effective research presentation is crucial to successfully communicating your expertise and skills to potential clients and employers. One way to do this is by attending industry events and conferences, where you can network with other professionals in your field and potentially connect with new clients. By attending these events and showcasing your presentation skills, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to a wider audience and potentially attract new business. By following the 12 proven tips outlined in my recent article 12 Proven Tips to Make an Effective Research Presentation as an Invited Speaker, you can hone your presentation skills and make a lasting impression on potential clients and employers at industry events and conferences.
- Build a network of contacts: Building a network of contacts in your industry can be a powerful way to generate leads and referrals for potential clients. You can start by reaching out to colleagues, former classmates, and industry professionals, and asking for introductions or referrals to potential clients.
- Utilize online marketplaces: Online marketplaces such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr can be effective platforms to showcase your skills and experience as a research consultant to potential clients. You can create a profile and bid on projects that match your areas of expertise.
Ultimately, the key to showcasing your profile as a research consultant is to build a strong reputation as a skilled and reliable professional. By delivering high-quality work, communicating effectively with clients, and building positive relationships with the stakeholders.
An example of a computer science research consultant’s portfolio
|Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, programming languages, data analysis and visualization, project management
|Programming, data analysis, project management, communication
|Proven ability to solve complex problems and provide innovative solutions to clients. Strong expertise in programming, data analysis, and project management. Excellent communication skills and ability to work independently or as part of a team.
|Ph.D. in Computer Science
|B.S. in Computer Science
|Provided consulting services to clients in various industries, including healthcare, finance, and technology. Designed and implemented machine learning models for predictive analytics and anomaly detection. Developed algorithms and software tools for data analysis and visualization. Collaborated with clients to define project requirements, manage project timelines, and deliver results. Conducted statistical analysis using tools such as R and Python. Communicated research findings to clients through technical reports, presentations, and documentation.
|Conducted research in the area of natural language processing. Designed and implemented machine learning models for text classification and sentiment analysis. Conducted data analysis and developed algorithms using tools such as Python and TensorFlow. Contributed to the writing and editing of technical reports and peer-reviewed journal articles.
|An Analysis of Customer Sentiment in Social Media Using Deep Learning, Proceedings of the International Conference on Data Science and Machine Learning
|Smith, J., Johnson, M., et al. (2021)
|A Machine Learning Approach for Predicting Hospital Readmissions, Journal of Medical Systems, Vol. 44, No. 9
|Smith, J., Brown, S., et al. (2020)
|Certified Project Management Professional (PMP)
|Certified Data Scientist (CDS)
Again, this is just an example, but a strong computer science research consultant resume/portfolio should highlight your expertise, experience, and accomplishments in your field, as well as any relevant certifications, publications, or professional development that demonstrate your skills and knowledge. Be sure to tailor your resume/portfolio to the specific needs of potential clients or employers and showcase your unique value proposition as a research consultant.
In conclusion, research consultancy can be a rewarding and lucrative career path for PhD scholars in engineering. By leveraging their expertise and skills, scholars can offer valuable insights and solutions to clients in a variety of industries, while also gaining valuable experience and exposure to real-world problems.
To be successful in research consultancy, scholars should focus on building a strong set of skills, including project management, data analysis, communication, and business development. They should also be prepared to face a variety of challenges and pitfalls, such as balancing multiple projects, managing client expectations, and dealing with uncertainty and risk.
Despite these challenges, research consultancy can offer a fulfilling and exciting career path for scholars who are passionate about using their research skills to make a difference in the world. By staying current with the latest research and techniques, building strong relationships with clients, and staying committed to their goals, PhD scholars in engineering can build successful careers as research consultants and make meaningful contributions to society.