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Should I hire an academic-based evaluator or a private consultant?

While you will find amazing evaluators in both settings, the organizational type will determine many contractual benefits and limitations, provide access to specific resources and networks, and may impact timing. Considerations for each organizational type are provided below.


Academic-Based Evaluator

  • Nearly always require an indirect rate that will go to the institution and not the evaluator. This can be as low as 10% and as high as 45% of the total contact dollar amount.

  • Often require co-ownership of relevant data, for specific or non-specified period of time. This can include the write to publish findings.

  • Dedicated data security including software and technical support.

  • May have access to data collection software including survey tools and data transfer systems. They will likely be able to use these services at no or low cost as the university has likely already paid for a university-wide subscription. If this is not the case, some teams/departments/colleges offer these packages to their faculty, staff, and students.

  • Collaboration opportunities with students to utilize evaluation efforts as a learning opportunity for course credit, practicum, or capstone requirements.

  • Access to monthly/weekly lectures series and professional development that keep them abreast of relevant and new techniques.

  • Access to the academic literature. This literature can prove critical for identifying appropriate methods, learning from previous efforts, and improving thematic understanding.

  • Teaching requirements may demand varying time throughout the semester.

  • Access to students who may be useful for data collection strategies.

Private Evaluation Consultants

  • Compensation does not often include overhead or indirect rates. Your dollars are going directly to the evaluation efforts.

  • Access to interns and other internal staff that may be useful for data collection strategies.

  • Fine-tuned understanding of available time and resources to accomplish contracted deliverables.

  • Access to independent evaluation networks to provide professional development opportunities.

  • May require additional attention around data security, although a variety of solutions are available to ensure security and confidentiality.

  • Dedicate 100% of their time to consultation and evaluation without the organizational requirements to teach and publish.

It is worth noting that independent consultants often acquire and/or maintain appointments in academic settings such that they are able to maintain access to lecture series, workshops, students, and the library. This is the case at End Grain Research and Evaluation as Lynn maintains her volunteer faculty appointment at The University of Colorado School of Medicine and School of Public Health.


If you have any questions about the difference between contracting with academic evaluators versus private evaluators please reach out via our contact page or email us directly – lynn@endgrainevaluation.com


Cheers!