A cautionary tale for independent researchers

A terrifically honest post fromĀ Frances Coppola about the difficulties she has faced as an independent researcher. As I embark in a roughly similar direction, I’m worried this is what the future has in store for me, particularly when working within an organisational culture that is disturbingly ill-attuned to the idea of paying people for their work:

I have been looking through my diary for the next couple of months. It is pretty crowded. Meetings, lectures, conferences, TV and radio appearances…..it is almost 7 days a week. It’s nice to be busy, isn’t it?

But as I look at this ridiculous schedule, I wonder why, if I am so busy, I am so broke. When I say “broke”, I mean that I do not currently have enough money to pay my mortgage this month. I am hoping that those who owe me money for work I have already done (some of it dating back to January) will pay me in time. If they do not, I will once again be scrabbling around trying to borrow the money to pay my bills. I’m so tired of having to chase people to pay the money they owe me….

Looking further ahead, I only have enough paid work to cover my obligations for the next month or two. The summer is coming, and everyone goes on holiday then. Freelance writing – and teaching – dry up. So it looks very much as if I will once again be staring bankruptcy in the face by the end of August. I should be used to this by now, I suppose. It has happened every August for well over a decade, with the exception of 2014.


2 thoughts on “A cautionary tale for independent researchers

  1. Dr Helen Kara sometimes talks about the ‘roller coaster’ of being an independent researcher and, in particular, the financial struggles – e.g., check her post from April 14th.

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