Hiring a remote research assistant: is this even a real thing?
October 23, 2012 8:14 PM   Subscribe

How do I find and hire a remote research assistant for a one-off task (in Goshen, IN)?

A strange question that is probably totally a long shot, but I'll ask it anyway. Does anyone know how to find and hire a remote research assistant for a one-off task? I'm a PhD student and need to do a few hours' research at an archive far from me (in Goshen, IN, as it happens). It's really cost prohibitive for me to go there myself (as in, I'm a broke grad student and can't swing it at all), but unfortunately, I very much need the relevant documents from that archive. I suddenly thought perhaps I could hire a remote research assistant who is a local in that area, to go there for me (if the archive will let me do this). Because I largely know what the documents that I need are titled, and which boxes they are in, it's largely just a matter of showing up, giving the archivists the list, combing through the boxes, and then going through and scanning/photocopying the relevant documents on the list, and emailing it to me. The catch is that I don't know anyone in that town, or the surrounding area. I thought about Craigslist, but the lack of vetting or accountability is a bit unsettling, as I imagine I'd have to Paypal the person money before I got the work from them.

Does anyone know of how I might go about finding someone for this task (assuming it's even possible)? Would it be plausible to use an online site for hiring an assistant for odd jobs (the kind that you can use to hire people to grocery shop for you, etc.)? Does anyone have any specific recommendations about good websites that I could use to find someone for this, or suggestions about anything else relevant?
posted by UniversityNomad to Work & Money (6 answers total)
posted by phunniemee at 8:16 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Won't the library do it for you? Lots of research librarians will take on this task as part of their job.
posted by mrfuga0 at 8:18 PM on October 23, 2012

Thanks for the help so far! The library has been super helpful, and they're willing to do up to 100 pages for me, but that's unfortunately not enough. There are a few long essays that I need scanned, plus bits and pieces in other boxes, so I thought I'd have the librarians do the scattered bits and pieces, and hope that I might find someone who could scan the essays plus a few other things (which would presumably be the easier task for someone unfamiliar with my general topic area).
posted by UniversityNomad at 8:22 PM on October 23, 2012

I'd e-mail the corresponding department to yours at the nearest university and ask if they can recommend a reliable graduate student who might be willing to make a few bucks.
posted by synecdoche at 8:41 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Ask the librarians/archivists there if anyone is willing to do it on their own time for money? They may also have grad students/undergrads who already work there who might do it.
posted by cushie at 8:50 PM on October 23, 2012

Goshen College has a Mennonite studies program within the history department-- which itself has only 5 faculty members. I'd email them all and ask if they know a reliable undergrad (they don't have a graduate program) who could use some extra work or if they could forward your request to the department mailing list.

Also, if the library is connected to the college, it probably has student workers. Maybe ask one of your librarian contacts to put you in touch with some of those students?
posted by acidic at 9:24 PM on October 23, 2012

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