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How to be an Academic Superhero

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

In universities across the world, academics struggle to establish and sustain their careers while satisfying intensifying institutional demands. Drawing from the author’s decades of observation and experience in academia, this exceptional book responds to the challenges of fostering and sustaining a successful academic career.
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Chapter 27: Consider consulting

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay


Some scholars apply their professional skills to consulting as ways of extending experience and networks; gaining insights to the broader value of their scholarship; and ‘doing good’ in the wider community. These can be noteworthy benefits of incorporating consulting into an academic career. Moreover, for those who consult for fees, the financial rewards can be significant. Mascarelli (2011, p. 249) suggests that researchers who act regularly as consultants may add up to 30 per cent to their regular salaries, and a report by Check (2004, p. 119) notes that scientists working for the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) are required to limit their compensation to 50 per cent of their government salaries! Certainly some humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) fields such as economics, planning, geographical information systems, environmental impact assessment and higher education attract more paid consulting opportunities than others, but the opportunities to consult span almost all disciplines. And it is not just established scholars who take up consulting. In an innovative development, a group in Singapore has developed an organization called Conjunct Consulting,1 which simultaneously employs and trains Singaporean university students in all aspects of consulting while providing consulting services to non-profit organizations and social enterprises. Following compulsory training, teams of five students, working under the direction of appropriate professionals, provide consulting to clients in areas such as financial sustainability, strategic planning and impact measurement.

Many prospects for consulting work can be found through personal and professional networks but...

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