Among freelance writing services, research writing often involves far more technical demand than basic content writing. As a result, buyers often pay a higher fee for the same amount of material produced, but the research is oftentimes original, includes necessary analysis and filtering, and provides manually discovered sources to back up its conclusions. Further, in complex projects, the research may even be directly applied information versus research based on secondary sources.
Research writers are expected to be professional and produce work specific to the topic they’re given. That said, an open-ended assignment leaves a lot of discretion to a writer, which in turn can cause headaches if the product isn’t what was actually desired. In this respect, a research writer is a lot like a construction contractor; he needs to know specifically what to work on and the parameters of the job to produce the desired product.
Where buyers run into a challenge frequently involves defining the researcher’s scope. Many throw their hands up in their air, arguing that they don’t know how to define a researcher’s job since they don’t know the topic—that’s why they’re hiring the researcher in the first place. However, with a bit of thought, a well-defined scope can be put together, helping a researcher hone in on the right material.
Defining a research scope can be improved by the following:
- Provide the context – A researcher can perform a far better job when he knows how the research produced will be used. Despite being given a topic to work on, research writers have a lot of latitude in how to write if their topic isn’t defined. Given context, the researcher can instead refine his product to what you’re looking for.
- Be clear about expectations – If the project should span 500 pages, then the scope should say that. If it needs to include charts, sources, footnotes, and first-person interviews, then those should be specified. A scope should be as detailed as possible about the desired nuts and bolts; researchers shouldn’t have to guess what a buyer wants at the end of the research.
- Discuss the project before getting started – No one wants to find out a project has been going down the wrong path when it’s in the very last revision of the work before final payment. A good discussion before getting started will help refine a scope and work out questions well before pen is put to paper.
- Use a non-disclosure agreement – If worried about confidential information being made public, using an NDA agreement ahead of starting the work will legally protect any unwanted disclosure or unauthorized use of private information. This removes worries and gets the researcher focused on production.
- Don’t pay until the desired product is delivered – There’s on old saying, “why buy the cow if the milk is free?” Buyer’s need to use their payment as leverage to ensure a research writer produces what is desired. Be fair, but firm; a writer needs to perform as expected. Paying ahead of time eliminates this incentive and raises the risk of sub-par work.
Hire a research writer with a detailed scope process and the results will be impressive.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.