How a Freelance Literature Search Expert Can Help Accelerate Innovation

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The rapid transformation in workplaces, brought about by the gig economy, has led to the birth of many new designations, prefixed by the word ‘freelance’. There is unprecedented access to on-demand services. Need to make sense of your data? Hire a freelance data scientist. Need to carry out a clinical trial? Hire a freelance biostatistician. Need a compilation of all the available research on a topic? Hire a freelance literature search expert.

Most researchers and businesses conduct a literature search before they embark on new research or develop a new product or service. A literature search involves a thorough study and compilation of all the available published material on a particular topic, to understand what research has already been carried, and to identify knowledge gaps. A thorough literature search will help in picking the right methodology, designing the right experiment and prevent errors, repetition and redundancy. Government agencies, nonprofit organizations and NGOs also frequently carry out literature searches before they introduce an initiative.

A literature search is time-consuming and painstaking. Going through all the available years on a particular topic, say over the last 20 years, is not an easy job. A reliable solution is to hire a freelance literature search expert, who can take it on. A freelance literature search expert can be a scientist, a researcher or a subject matter expert, who is familiar with the process and has the capacity to extract meaningful information. A statistician familiar with meta-analysis can also help arrive at the most relevant and accurate findings from more complex studies.

Here are four ways a freelance literature search expert can help you.

1) Understand the knowledge gap: A literature search is conducted with the main aim of identifying the knowledge gap. This could be research that is yet to be carried out, an alternative methodology, or the potential for a novel innovation, product or service. Researchers, PhDs and post-docs use a systematic approach to studying old literature and identifying missing gaps. This will help you save precious time and energy. Government bodies and nonprofits carry out literature searches in order to make a case for a particular initiative or service. For example, the CEO of a medical dispensary in the US was looking for a researcher to conduct a literature search on the use of medical cannabis for treating anxiety disorders. Kolabtree helped him find a relevant freelance literature search expert, who was able to successfully carry out the search. The information was then presented to the state senate committee, in an attempt to effect a change in drug laws in the state.

2) Develop a search strategy:  While the media and pop culture often suggest that scientists are disorganized and crazy individuals, the truth is that postdocs and PhDs have an organized approach and method to their research studies. A freelance literature search expert can help you develop a comprehensive search strategy, using the right search terms/keywords, sources, search engines, journals, patents and can also set a reasonable time frame to do all of this in. Further, when the articles are shortlisted, they evaluate each article for its merits, methods and outcomes.

3) Improve quality and credibility of the search: In a literature search, many items need quality assurance such as the source. For instance, journals with high impact factors or meticulous documentation of personal communications with leading scientists serve as credible sources for a research study. An expert pays attention to all these details and ensures credibility of the search.

A literature search can also involve conflicting research papers on a particular topic. Experienced researchers are able to judge the quality of a research paper, eliminate inaccurate conclusions caused by methodology errors, and are able to sort the relevant from the irrelevant.  PhD-qualified experts are especially able to use their writing skills to present researched information in such a way that it provides context to the problem and the solution under consideration.

4) Meet industry standards:  Since doctoral professionals keep in touch with the trends in the field, their searches will most likely meet the current industry standard and often set a new standard. Additionally, when articles are not available of the literature search (which happens if business/research idea is novel), doctoral professionals have personal connections in their field of expertise which they can utilize to gain further insight, information about current consensus and the recent advancements in the field.

Before embarking on any new research, it is essential to understand what has been done in the past. A literature search serves as a blueprint and a guide — a starting point for ground-breaking innovations. By collaborating with an expert who can study and summarize past studies, you increase your chances of developing an idea, product or service that is likely to change the future.

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About Author

Ramya Sriram manages digital content and communications at Kolabtree. She's had about 8 years of experience in publishing, advertising, and digital content creation. She loves all things science and tech, and moonlights as a cartoonist and travel writer.

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