Hiring Freelance PhDs: Why Scientists Are Gravitating Towards the Gig Economy’s Pay-As-You-Go Model

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Hiring freelance PhD consultants can help companies test ideas and design products as and when the demand arises. With remote working opening up new opportunities, scientists and industry experts are taking up on-demand projects and offering consulting services on freelance platforms. This article explores the rise of industry and subject matter experts in the gig economy, and how they can be collaborated with for short-term, cost effective scientific projects.

Doctorate holders (PhDs) are the highest experts in their respective fields. They spend years studying, writing, researching and experimenting to reach the peak of their area of study. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that they are highly sought after in every sector. Their skills, knowledge and expertise is required by all types of establishments. 

However, in spite of their indispensability, they are facing an employment crisis. As per the Atlantic report of 2014, almost 40% did not have employment. This naturally raises the question of why such domain experts are without jobs.

As per the USA census, more than twice the number of people hold PhDs today as compared to two decades ago. This means there are more PhD holders in the market than required. 

Another reason for their unemployment could be because they are overqualified for corporate jobs, with the only jobs they have available being in academia. The harsh reality of academia is that they offer only permanent or temporary tenure at the Universities where PhDs teach, conduct research, take up some administrative work etc.. However, universities are producing more PhDs than they can absorb back in. 

With our highest intellectuals having little career security and few opportunities to win permanent or tenured positions, there is no surprise that 29% of PhDs and 46% of PhD students report mental health as the central area of concern in pre-pandemic times. 

The pandemic, of course, exacerbated their problems. Academics and researchers found it difficult to navigate through new emotional, technological, and logistical challenges. Around 3,500 PhD supervisors in the UK reported that the increased responsibility of supervising PhD Students, with the problems of balancing it with domestic responsibility , was affecting their mental health. They also showed concerns about their PhD students’ mental health conditions.

Freelance Consulting

However, although the pandemic added to the existing problems, it also came with a great opportunity for postdocs to tap into. It opened the door for them to be part of the gig economy. This massive influx of academics and subject matter experts into the gig economy ensured that freelance work platforms were no longer restricted to creative spaces but opened up an opportunity for highly technical people to offer their services.

Companies, on the other hand, could now reap the benefits of high expertise at attractive costs by hiring freelance PhDs. Say you are a mixer and dating site start-up and want to build the algorithm to find suitable matches for people. Apart from an application developer and a programmer, you would also need help from neurologists and psychiatrist/psychologists to understand the human mind and science of attraction. Hiring such field experts can pose various problems. They may not be readily accessible to you. You may not know if they have necessary experience needed to take up this project. The cost of hiring them would be exorbitant. Finally, how would you devise the terms of contract? 

In such precarious scenarios, freelance platforms like Kolabtree become immensely useful. An online marketplace focussed solely on niche scientific staff like Kolabtree can help businesses hire PhDs in a cost effective manner with many options at their disposal. Such online platforms have boosted the confidence of PhD’s to leave their traditional jobs and apply their expert knowledge and skills in various sectors. This allows them to continue to pursue research despite leaving academia. 

Kolabtree, for instance, has 20,000+ freelancers, the majority of them PhD holders across niche disciplines such as medtech, biotech and healthcare. These independent experts are available for consultation across spheres such as medical writing, product development and data analysis. Their industry experience is diverse, and enables companies to hire PhD experts on-the-go on pay-as-you-work contracts.

For PhDs, this has not only opened a new source of income but an alternative way to live a stress-free life. The flexibility and freedom that freelancing provides these experts is life-changing. It has allowed them to pick and choose projects, and eventually become independent scientists. They have the liberty to fix their own schedules, spend quality time with their family and also keep their scientific passion alive by carrying out research on their own time in their areas of interest. 

Benefits for Firms Hiring Freelance PhD Consultants

The main advantage in hiring freelance PhDs is not having to spend additional time and resources hiring an in-house expert. This enables the firm to save precious time and money that would have otherwise been devoted to needless paperwork and onboarding formalities. Hiring freelance PhDs provides a time-effective collaboration too, since these freelance scientists can be consulted for short term projects on-demand.

With continuous changes in consumer preferences, data science causing technological revolution and the need for constant innovation, freelance PhDs can prove to be highly valuable assets to companies looking to test new ideas in niche domains too. Freelance platforms can connect you with experts who can help you to find the best software to conduct statistical analysis, guide you to the right resource for obtaining the next round of funding, help you design the right algorithm for your platform, or maybe advise you if you are stuck with designing a suitable test for a research study. 

Hiring freelance PhDs can help you position your medical device in the market, or even accelerate bringing your product to market in the first place, by tapping into their diverse range of skills such as regulatory writing, statistical analysis etc.

Freelance platforms such as Kolabtree also take care of data confidentiality and security issues, with clearly defined regulations to protect the intellectual property of clients through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and custom terms and conditions. This leaves companies free to simply browse through a wide variety of independent experts, and consult one that fits their niche requirements.

Looking to consult a freelance PhD expert? Post a free project here.


Kolabtree helps businesses worldwide hire experts on demand. Our freelancers have helped companies publish research papers, develop products, analyze data, and more. It only takes a minute to tell us what you need done and get quotes from experts for free.


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