The Historian as Consultant: Guidelines
[These are some basic guidelines developed as a result of a workshop held on 22 June 2016 at University College Dublin. This is a working document and we welcome suggestions from members in terms of changes and additions.]
The expertise of professional historians is often required outside the academic field;
in undertaking such work and charging professional fees, historians can act as
consultants or sole-traders. This document is a basic set of guidelines for members
working as historical consultants. (Note: professional fees are ordinarily not charged
when undertaking public outreach, promoting individual scholarship, or acting as a
representative for an interest-group).
• It is in your best interest to inform potential clients from the outset that you work
in a consultancy capacity, and accordingly charge appropriate professional fees.
• Before taking on work you should consider any potential conflict of interest and
clarify in whom copyright and ownership of any intellectual property arising from
the project will vest.
• Read any consultancy agreements carefully, considering whether the scope of the
agreement accurately reflects the work you will be expected to carry out.
• If you are attached to another institution you should refer to your employer’s
guidelines on professional consultancy.
• Professional fees should be agreed with the client in advance; some institutions
may have a set rate for consultation.
• How much should you charge? Rates depend on the duration of the work, the
client, the level of experience of the person or person(s) carrying out the work, as
well as the relative uniqueness of that skill set. However, the following rates may
be of interest to members: The Heritage Lottery Fund, £350/day and The Heritage
• Television production companies and newspapers may have set rates for
historical experts. Much will depend on the nature of your contribution and the
individual project (for instance, some production companies pay more if the
programme has already been commissioned by a broadcaster). When you are (for
example) creating content or providing extended expert analysis, establish
whether or not you will be paid a fee before you undertake the work.
• Direct costs are often borne by the consultant, however there are exceptions – in
such instances claims should be agreed with the client in advance.
• Clients should be provided with an invoice either after the work is completed or at
agreed intervals over the period of work.
• It is important to provide clients with an up-to-date consultant profile.
• Information on self-employment and Revenue compliance can be found at
www.revenue.ie; www.citizensinformation.ie and https://www.gov.uk/browse/
business. Remember, it is your responsibility to manage your own tax affairs.