Contractors · Academics

Where to find a good 'Phd. level' researcher to 'browse the literature'?

Aaron Perrin Software Architect / Senior Developer

May 21st, 2013

I'm looking to outsource some tasks to a freelancer, but I need someone relatively qualified to do scientific research.  Is this something for which I could use oDesk or a similar site?  How do I validate their expertise and ability?

Let me give an example.  Let's say that I want to product a new nutrition app, but I want to base my app in scientific research.  In that case, I would want to have a freelancer collect (or direct the collection) of available studies, parse them, make sense of them, and then create an outline of findings (with references).  Knowledge of the specific domain (here, nutrition) would not be required.

Are there sites where I could find such a person? 


May 21st, 2013


I have had similar needs to what you have described before, but having only 1 person or even a few people scour the literature for you is not as efficient as going with more of a crowdsourced labor approach.  A colleague of mine has developed a very sophisticated platform where you can subdivide and subtask out what you are doing with a labor pool of thousands who can dissect a huge body of data in hours to days per your specification (versus months to years).  What he has come up with is truly revolutionary, and it is called Alegion (  Message me if you'd like a personal introduction with the founder - his solution is very cost effective, and it's just what you're looking for.

Helen Adeosun

May 21st, 2013

Mmmm...I wouldnt go to Odesk necessarily. I went to the Ed School at Harvard and there are a lot of poor PhDs looking for extra income this summer. Make a list of the best programs in whatever field you are in and post on their job boards. This is usually free and I hired a curriculum designer for $1000. A masters student can easily do what you're asking and can have domain experience. Good luck!

Jeb PhD Decision & Data Scientist / Experimental Psychologist / Business Intelligence

May 21st, 2013

My recommendation would be to go old-school (so to speak) in this case -- reach out to either the department heads or specific professors in the field relevant to your app at local universities. They'll likely help you find someone who can do the job and who can use the experience. If the grad student is smart, they may even be able to snag a credit-hour out of the project, or possibly even discover their thesis or dissertation project. While I understand what you're saying that knowledge of the specific domain isn't required, you're likely to get better work out of someone whose interests coincide with your own. Good luck!

Noah Friedland Co Founder at ImageSleuth

May 21st, 2013

I've done a lot of work with academics over the years. Sounds like you are looking for a good post-doctoral fellow to do some freelancing. I would start by contacting the dean of the appropriate school at the University of Maryland or any one of the great local universities in your area, and asking him or her to please refer you to one of their fellows. 

Matt Mireles

May 22nd, 2013

Check out Science Exchange. They're a USV portfolio company that does exactly this. -- Sent from my iPhone. Pls firgive any spellng erors.

Janice Mandel Writer, Communications Strategist, Advisor

May 21st, 2013

You might consider calling a relevant department at a top-notch university to enquire. Sent from my iPhone

Istvan Jonyer VC at NexStar Partners

May 21st, 2013

Aaron, I would strongly advise against outsourcing thinking. Getting others to think for you is really not the way to go. Once you develop your product concept, features, ux, then you can farm out implementation, under close supervision. Just my $0.02. Best, Istvan

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

May 22nd, 2013

Hello Aaron,

Here in Canada there's an organization with that objective in life:

I don't know if they can work for somebody in the US, but I don't see why not, so you might check them out.



May 21st, 2013

It sounds like you're referring to lit review.  Instead of mining for any academic person to do this, it's easier to find phD level people who work in that field and ask for a lit-review-like document or consultation. 

Karen Knight

May 21st, 2013

Hi Aaron

I am not sure if this is up her specialty - but Rhonda is brilliant & should be available for freelance. If you email her, let her know I referred her.



Rhonda Wiltshire (