Individuals might benefit from hiring research consultants if the business or individual needs specific types of research expertise that they alone do not possess. Choosing to hire a research consultant is a wise and fairly easy decision to make, but choosing which research consultant to hire is much more difficult and complex because the wrong choice could lead to wasted time and resources. Therefore, researchers who have decided to hire research consultants should consider the following cautionary advice about choosing research consultants.
Many researchers choose consultants based on cost and certification, but choosing research consultants based on cost or certification alone can pose several problems. For example, research consulting offered at a higher price does not necessarily indicate better consulting, but research consulting offered at lower price might actually cost more in the long run, especially if the consultants are less experienced, because correcting mistakes from bad consulting can be costly and time consuming. Research consultants who have more experience will produce better results in less time, so it would seem more logical to choose a research consultant based on certification rather than on cost because certification would presumably indicate more experience. Unfortunately, this is not the case; the concept of research consulting is fairly new, which means that organizations that certify research consultants are also new and have not been well vetted. As such, certification does not always accurately indicate the experience of research consultants and is therefore no more a reliable criterion for choosing a research consultant than is cost.
Instead of choosing research consultants based on cost and certification, researchers should choose consultants based on ethical reputation and reliability as well. Certification is not the only measure of ethical reputation and reliability;
The following are some questions that researchers should answer before contracting a statistical consultant: Is the consultant self-employed or associated with a firm? If the consultant is self-employed, how did the researcher find out about the consultant (e.g., referral from a reliable source, etc.)? If the consultant works for a firm, what other professionals, organizations, and societies are the firm using for proof of its ethical reputation and reliability?
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