I am interested in using your services; what is the first step?
Simply email me for an initial and free discussion of your project. I will help you to clarify your goals, determine the research options available and give an informed view of the chances of success.
What happens next?
After our initial discussions, I would provide a detailed written assessment of your enquiry from a research perspective; this would include a cost estimate and a tentative timescale; I might also mention particular archival repositories and/or individual collections of likely relevance and potential difficulties (the relevant collections might be poorly, or indeed wholly, uncatalogued, for example). Work would only commence once a written agreement between us was in place.
How long will research take to complete?
Ultimately, this will depend on the nature of the proposed task. The more precisely you can specify your research goals (for example, you may require copies of documents from a particular repository and know the exact archival references) the quicker the job will be completed. The course of more exploratory research can never be projected accurately in advance, and much will depend on the quality of diagnostic information available at the outset, and the nature of the records to be consulted. I keep clients regularly updated so that they retain control of the overall process at all times, and are in a position to recall me from research if necessary.
What will I receive at the end of the job?
Again, this will depend on the nature of your enquiry: it might be that a series of digital images would suffice, in which case I would send scans free of charge via We Transfer; a more substantial research project might involve a written report that could include supporting scholarly apparatus—footnotes (or endnotes), bibliography, appendices etc.—and supplementary documents.
It is also important to be clear that historical research is not an exact science: one may look as diligently as possible, but if the information or document sought does not exist in the first place it follows that no amount of searching will find it. Thus I can offer no guarantees about the success of any investigation which at the outset is an intrinsically unknown quantity; rather, my clients pay for my research expertise and for the time and effort I can devote to their case.
How much will it cost?
For archival/library work I charge an hourly rate of £25 (twenty-five pounds sterling); for desk work at home the rate is £20 (twenty pounds sterling); I also charge travel expenses. I can be paid through PayPal, bank transfer or by cheque in UK pounds sterling. Paper copies of certificates or other documents, postage and so forth are charged as additional expenses.