Promoting, supporting and encouraging the study of the United States since 1955

British Association for American Studies


FAQ Research Assistant Awards


FAQ on hiring a research assistant as part of the BAAS Research Assistance Awards

Can BAAS help me in finding a suitable research assistant in the US?

No, BAAS does not provide help in identifying an archivist/research assistant to source and digitise material for you. Specialist librarians and archivists at US organisations tend to have lists of potential research assistants. Do inquire about these possibilities with the organisations that you are interested in. Another good way to find a local person is to get in touch with the relevant university department or research centre located close to the targeted archival institution and ask whether a graduate student or an advanced undergraduate would be interested in doing some research assistance work for a fee. 

See the list of independent researchers (per area of expertise) provided at

Or this list of possible options to find an assistant on the Yale Library website

How much should I pay my research assistant?

The terms of employment are between you and your research assistant, and BAAS will have no involvement in such negotiations. However, the award panel will look favorably on applications that include a quote from a research assistant or professional. Local research assistants can usually be hired for hourly rates ranging from $15 to $25 an hour, depending on experience and expertise, as well as local cost of life. 

Should I provide a quote from the research assistant I intend on employing?

If possible, yes. In any case, do your best effort to show that you have a concrete plan on how to source and obtain the archival material. 

Can I use the research assistance award to fund the digitisation of images and documents with the view of reproducing them in a book or article? 

No, the research assistance awards are intended to help scholars develop new research projects. They are not meant to facilitate the reproduction of material for publication purposes.

Can the BAAS research assistance award cover the individual subscription for an online resource database?

In some cases, yes. If you can prove that your institution will not fund the subscription for an essential resource database for your project (for instance because it is too narrow in its remit to interest the university community at large), then the award panel will consider the application eligible. 


‘I hired a research assistant when I needed someone to find and photograph a set of records in the National Archives in Washington D.C. Through word-of-mouth I found a local researcher. We agreed a fee, I sent her details of what I needed, including the file names and numbers, and she provided me with a shared drive and CD of the photographed files. My requests were very specific but she suggested she would have been able to do some prep work. She was also able to browse some records on my behalf to see what she could find. I couldn’t get to the archive myself and her help in completing the archival research was invaluable. It was also much more cost-efficient than making the trip myself. As it turns out, the monument she helped me research is round the corner from her home and we’ve kept in touch in the intervening period about it. Another silver-lining to a process which was extremely beneficial and really quite straightforward!’ 


I have had excellent experiences of accessing archival materials remotely by hiring hourly-paid US researchers. When completing my monograph, A Piece of the Action: Race and Labor in Post-Civil Rights Hollywood, it became clear that I needed more primary material from special collections and, due to climate commitments, I wasn’t willing to take another trip to the US. I wanted material from the Margaret Herrick Library (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences) in Los Angeles and called the research librarian who sent me a list of names of local researchers who do this kind of work for scholars, including their areas of specialism and hourly rate. I hired someone (who I spoke to at some length about my needs) and the beauty was that soon after copious files arrived electronically which I could access from the comfort of my home office – a wonderfully convenient service. I’ve accessed other archives remotely, including the Dirksen Congressional Centre in Pekin, Illinois and the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, CA. In the latter case, the research librarian didn’t have a list of names, but knew of a postgraduate researcher who was on site a lot who I hired and turned out to be great value. The librarian contributed really good ideas about which boxes the researcher should look in, and the holdings were listed online, so one way or another I was able to unearth what I needed. Highly recommended!