Out of work? Why not freelance for Academic Knowledge?
Six years ago I started freelancing for Nottingham-based Agency Academic Knowledge as a ‘researcher’, and since then I’ve completed hundreds of projects for them. With so many people out of work, I thought I’d feature AK as a great way to earn money, whether you’re job hunting or already working.
Academic Knowledge is a trading name of All Answers Limited, a registered UK company incorporated in 2003 (no. 04964706). They are based at Venture House in Arnold, Nottingham. Offices are open for visits as long as you call in advance as they’re a busy bunch.
AK employs around 35 full time members of staff at their offices, as well as using remote support staff, contractors and close to 4,000 freelancers. It has a strong reputation, having featured in the national press, radio and TV many times. Customers approach AK through one of All Answers’ many websites, their flagship site being UKEssays.com. You can hear an interview with After Care Manager Jilly on BBC Radio Nottingham here:
Staff can point you to more videos and press if you’re interested.
What kind of work could AK offer me?
AK helps students with their written assignments, and these projects are fulfilled by you, the researcher. These may be essays, dissertations, reports or even presentations. Two primary services are offered:
- A model answer writing service – the student is given an exact answer to their assignment and uses this as a guide to formulate their own piece of work.
- A marking service – the student provides their work, it is marked and feedback on how to improve the work is offered.
In addition, AK pays researchers to review other researchers’ work, as an additional check to our internal quality control processes.
Researchers may carry out any or all of the above types of work – and may pick and choose which assignments they are most interested in completing.
What qualifications/experience do I need?
AK requires that you have a minimum 2:1 degree from a recognised university, although if you have equivalent qualifications (such as being a F.ILEX) you may also be accepted onto their books. They do require evidence of qualifications and these are carefully checked. Your level of English must also be equivalent to a native speaker.
Once accepted, you’ll be able to work in subject areas that are relevant to your degree. If you establish a good reputation working in your degree areas and you can show relevant experience and/or other qualifications in other areas, you may be allowed to expand the work you take on.
How much does it cost to be on AK’s books?
It doesn’t cost anything to apply, register, be on the books, bid for work etc. There are no costs involved at all.
How does it work?
Customers approach AK for help, usually through one of its websites. Details of their assignment are sent out to all researchers on AK’s books who have qualifications in that area of study. These details will include what the customer wants, how much is offered to complete the work, and when it needs to be completed by. They do not include any information to identify the customer as the service is offered confidentially.
Those researchers that are interested in an assignment put themselves forward to complete the assignment (this is often referred to as bidding, but in fact, for most assignments the fee is already set so there is no bidding process). The Researcher Relations team select the researcher they feel is best suited to complete the assignment and work begins.
When the researcher has finished the work, they upload it through their ‘control panel’. It is quality checked by the staff (and often by another researcher), scanned for plagiarism and sent on to the customer. The customer can request changes within their ‘amendments period’ (usually 7 days) as long as these changes don’t clash with their original order instructions. In other words, you’ll only be asked to change work if you’ve not followed the instructions properly. Other types of change requests attract a further fee that is paid to you.
How much money will I get paid?
The rates on offer depend on the length of assignment is being completed, the type of assignment, how quickly it is needed, and the standard of writing required. For example, if you write a 2,500 word model answer for an undergraduate student to around 2:1 standard, delivery within 5 days, your fee will be £108. If the student wants much more detail and requests a 1st class example, you’ll receive £217 for the same amount of words. If the student needs faster (next day) help, the same assignment would earn you £433. So it very much depends on those three factors: assignment type, speed and standard.
To mark a piece of work of up to 5,000 words, you’ll receive £20. Marking fees again depends on the length of the work and the level of feedback required.
For nearly all assignments, you’ll see the fee beforehand and you can decide whether to put yourself forward for it or not. The only exception to this is ‘zero word count’ orders. These are orders from customers for things like presentations, maths, posters and so on. They might have relatively few words but require several hours work. For these assignments, you tell AK how much you’d be willing to complete the work for, and they choose a researcher based on capability and the amount proposed.
When will I get paid?
AK pay monthly straight into your bank account, and invoicing is dealt with by their automatic system. There is, of course, a cut off date each month and any work completed after this date carries over to the following month.
What kind of support will I be offered?
Your primary line of support is the Researcher Relations team. Headed up by Sam, Holly and Luke, these guys are on hand 9am – 9pm week days and 10am – 7pm on a Saturday to make sure you have everything you need. The After Care team are also on standby. Headed up by Jilly, a PhD qualified former lecturer, these are all academics covering a broad range of subjects – so they are very helpful if you get stuck.
AK release newsletters and bulletins to encourage and support researchers so you know you’re not working alone.
AK also offer free and subsidised subscriptions to major journal databases to ensure you have the resources you need to complete assignments to a high standard for them.
Can I do this as a full time job?
Yes and I know some researchers do. It takes a little while to get yourself ‘established’ with AK – they won’t give you lots of work up front, as they’ll first want to be sure that you can complete it to a really good standard. Once they’re happy that you’re good at what you do, you’ll find yourself being awarded a lot more of the projects that you’re interested in.
If you’re helpful – always happy to make little changes for the customer, or to take on problem assignments (for example, when other researchers have done a poor job), you’ll quickly build a good rapport with the Researcher Relations team.
One thing to note is that work loads are seasonal in line with the academic year. During busy times, you’ll be able to grab more work than you could ever handle – and conversely, there’s less available when school’s out. But the Company has grown fast and the differences between the busy and quiet times are becoming less obvious – certainly for researchers who have a good reputation with the Company and receive some preference when it comes to delegating work.
Are there any bad points about working for AK?
Yes. In my view, they are as follows:
- It can take a little time to get established with AK so you have to be patient. This is just because they’re looking after their customers and so are careful about who they delegate the work to. My advice is keep putting yourself forward for as much work as possible and when you get your first project, make sure you impress them! Ask Researcher Relations specifically for feedback so you know how well you did – it also means someone will take a second look at your work so you’ll get ‘noticed’.
- During quiet times, there’s not so much work to go round so if you’re doing this full time, you have to budget your earnings carefully. However, this is getting better as the Company grows.
Who are AK’s customers?
Primarily, students doing their first degree at University. AK also helps some A level students, business people and other people who have to complete some sort of written assignment. The biggest customer base is international students who need extra help because they are not receiving the right level of support at their learning institution.
How do I apply?
Click here to apply online through AK’s website. You’ll need to supply identification as well as copies of your certificates.