How to Find Legitimate Academic Writing Jobs

academic writing jobs

When I first left my PhD program to become a freelance writer many years ago, academic writing jobs were very appealing to me. But most of the gigs I found involved essay writing, and it took me a while before I could identify legitimate academic sites looking for writers.

Over the years I’ve met many more people with a degree (or degrees) who want to get into freelance writing using their academic skills. To help them avoid the challenges I faced in the beginning, I put together this guide that includes:

  • An assessment of the current academic writing job market
  • A list of places you can find remote writing work
  • Steps to harness your educational background to become a skilled freelance writer
  • Advice on how to find academic writing sites that offer legitimate gigs

Here’s everything you need to know:

Are Online Academic Writing Jobs Illegal?

Ok, lots of people ask this question, and they should, because most academic writing jobs are actually essay writing jobs. Like, writing term papers for college students. Some PhD students will even hire someone to write their dissertation for them!

There are a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t get into this type of university writing, which I discuss in detail in another blog post. In short, doing someone’s homework for them is considered academic fraud and may or may not be illegal, depending on where you live and what the rules are.

Essay writing has become such a huge and lucrative market for any writer without scruples, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they start cracking down on it very soon. You do not want to be caught in the middle of that.

And the tricky thing is, most of the sites out there that hire academic writers aren’t forthcoming about the kind of work they’re doing. Instead they focus on the benefits for freelancers, like this site does:

academic sites looking for writers

Good news is, there are plenty of legitimate academic writing jobs for freelance writers that don’t involve helping people cheat on university essays. Professors, researchers, universities, and other organizations hire writers all the time to help them with their research and academic papers. You just have to get away from the plethora of essay writing jobs all over the web to succeed.

How to Become an Academic Writer

Academic writing is a great career choice for a lot of reasons. Freelance writing jobs offer an alternative for passionate writers who want a different path from their academic career. Academic writing is also something many PhDs, professors and researchers do to supplement their stable income, build a portfolio of published works, and ensure continuous career growth. While you can find many job opportunities after PhD, freelance writing is a flexible and lucrative option.

But if you want to become a successful academic writing specialist, you’ll need to do more than finding academic sites looking for writers. Expert research writers need to build a professional online presence to land writing jobs, much like how you build up your CV to showcase your academic accomplishments.

Choose a writing niche

The very first thing you should do before you start searching for online writing jobs is to choose a specific niche to specialize in. Academic writing isn’t like other types of freelance writing, you need certain credentials and experience in order to qualify.

Most academic writing jobs require at least a Bachelor’s academic degree, while some want an MA or PhD. You can find academic writing work with just a Bachelor’s, but you need to specialize, just like an MA or PhD would.

It’s not enough to have strong writing skills, as there is plenty of writing talent out there for clients to choose from. Your freelance writing business can specialize in a certain discipline, category of related disciplines, or types of writing skills and research. There are a wide range of possibilities.

For example, if you have anthropology degrees (like I do), you can specialize in social science writing. If you’ve successfully landed some grants in the past, you can specialize in grant writing. If you have a Master of Science in Nursing, you can specialize in medical writing. Or if you have an engineering degree, you can specialize in technical writing.

It’s important for you to also know that it’s possible to find freelance work outside of your areas of expertise in academia. I write on topics completely unrelated to my background as an anthropologist, simply by using my existing skills.

Do you have a liberal arts degree(s)? You can succeed at freelancing. Sign up for my FREE course to learn how to harness your existing skills to grow a lucrative freelance business.

Create a freelance writer website

The next step for academic writers is to create a professional website for their writing services. Contrary to popular belief, creating your own website is really easy — you can do it all in a day.

All you have to do is create a WordPress site, then purchase hosting so you have your own domain address (yourname.com). My freelance writer website is courtneydanyel.com, feel free to check it out.

To host your website, I recommend using Bluehost service. Their system is easy for beginners to figure out and it’s more affordable than other options out there.

Set your writing rates

You don’t need to be one of the hardest-working writers out there to earn good money with academic writing jobs. You just need to build a professional online profile and set your rates strategically. In another blog post, I provide a FREE freelance writer rate sheet template you can use, plus advice on how to research your market and set your rates.

Start pitching academic writing sites

Once you have a professional academic writing website set up, create your rate sheet, and choose your preferred payment method, you’re ready to start finding clients. If you want to succeed as a freelance writer in general, you need to spend your time pitching high-quality clients that aren’t trying to get you to write academic essays for students then pay you a pittance in return.

Below I provide some academic writing job opportunities and resources that can help you find more gigs to apply to — but first you need to know how to effectively vet academic writing sites so you only apply for high-quality work.

How to Vet Academic Writing Sites

Before you apply for any academic writing jobs, you need to take a close look at their website to make sure it’s legitimate. It’s very likely you’ll come across an academic writing company that looks professional on the surface, but this is actually just a thinly veiled attempt to trick student writers into doing peoples’ homework for them.

Here’s what you should look out for in academic writing sites before applying for a freelance writer vacancy:

Read the fine print

If the platform you’re applying to work for is an academic essay writing site, it will probably show on their homepage. Some are quite blatant about the kind of academic writing they do — it’ll say right on their site that they write term papers, theses, dissertations, etc.

Others will be more subtle, probably because they’re worried about getting BUSTED. They’ll say things like “Help students succeed with academic writing services,” or “Work closely with students to edit, develop and improve their writing.” (That means write their academic essays for them).

Here are a couple of examples of how essay writing sites sugarcoat what they’re actually doing:

freelance academic writers wanted

“Provide our customers with high-quality academic assistance” really means “do their homework so they don’t have to.”

Here’s another good one:

academic writing jobs meaning

 

Notice how they say “provide outstanding quality outcomes” instead of “provide outstanding quality essays.” They do this deliberately to convince potential applicant writers that what they’re doing is ok — AND to avoid potentially getting in trouble with authorities.

Ask to see examples of their work

If you can’t tell just by looking at their website if they’re offering legitimate academic writing jobs or not, the next step is to ask them! Contact whoever’s in charge and ask to see what kind of writing they do, where their clients come from, etc. They should be able to provide you with examples of their academic writing work done for past clients. If they can’t, then it’s not a good writing gig to apply for.

Understand the project before you agree

Whether you found an academic writing job from a website or are applying for one on a freelance platform, it’s important to fully understand the project before agreeing to write. Knowing what the project is about can help you tailor your writing to your client’s needs, and ensure you don’t end up doing anyone’s academic assignments for them.

I learned that lesson the hard way once. A new client hired me to write 3,000 words on a topic (can’t remember what it was anymore), and I assumed I was writing an article for their biog or something. Only after I wrote and delivered the content, the client got back to me asking to include APA citations, because that’s what “my teacher wants for the paper.”

She did NOT tell me this content was for a university class and I had no idea until I already wrote it. Needless to say, I did not fix her citations for her.

You can avoid this mistake by always knowing exactly what the project is for before you start writing.

Academic Sites Looking for Writers

There are lots of places out there looking for ENL writers for research and academic topics. Here are just s few examples of completely legitimate academic writing jobs you can apply for:

1. BioScience Writers

BioScience Writers hires doctorate-level candidates for grant writing and editing services. They want writers who have experience writing grants for major bodies like NIH, NSF, DoD, AHRQ, PCORI, USDA, and SBIR.

2. Chainlink Labs

Chainlink Labs is hiring a research writer to create content related to blockchain ecosystems. This part-time, remote position is for anyone with an advanced university degree or relevant experience and industry knowledge of blockchains, DeFi, trends, and use cases.

3. Enago

Enago is an editing service that helps researchers get their manuscripts published in international journals. They hire freelance peer reviewers and journal experts as editors to help improve academic papers for publication.

4. Dascena

Dascena is hiring a scientific research writer to help communicate their research to the broader community, develop grants and oversee applications for NIH and NSF funding. Preferred applicants have a background in medicine, biology, or other life science fields, plus 2 years of scientific writing experience.

5. Merck

Merck is looking for a principal medical writer to work remotely for their education business in Baton Rouge, LA. The writer will prepare informed consent documentation as it relates to medical writing, bioethics and health literacy.

6. HigherEdJobs

HigherEdJobs is a reputable resource for people seeking work outside of academia. They regularly post positions in all sorts of areas, including publications and freelance editing jobs. You can rest assured that any article writing jobs posted on this site won’t involve student essay writing.

7. Kolabtree

Kolabtree is a freelancing site designed specifically for scientists and other industry experts. Here you can find academic writing jobs related to technical topics, medicine, engineering, social science, and more. Create a profile then clients can place orders with you directly. You’ll get paid through the platform for mediation.

How to Find More Academic Writing Jobs From Home

Those are just a few examples of academic sites looking for writers. You can find a whole lot more opportunities from freelance platforms and job boards around the web. Here are some more places you can find legitimate academic writing jobs from home:

  • Upwork
  • Freelancer.com
  • Workana.com
  • Guru.com
  • SimplyHired
  • Indeed
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Freelancewriting.com
  • Allfreelancewriting.com
  • Mediabistro
  • Thewriterfinder.com
  • Constant-content.com
  • Publoft
  • Zerys.com
  • Writingjobz.com
  • PeoplePerHour

Some of these are freelance platforms while others are job boards and email lists. Many of them have helped me find remote freelance writing jobs over the years. With these platforms, my only recommendation is to be careful and treat the job listings like you would with any other academic sites looking for writers. You’ll likely find many listings that involve helping students cheat on their homework, but there will be plenty of real academic writing jobs you can apply for also.

I just did a search for academic writing jobs on Upwork and found quite a few legitimate opportunities, including healthcare proofreading, research for a book manuscript, and course development writing projects in psychology:

 

academic writing jobs remote

 

There are lots of people looking to hire academic writers to help with research and writing projects that don’t involve doing someone’s homework for them.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to apply your BA or MA to freelancing, if you’re leaving academia mid-career or simply want to supplement your income, academic writing can be a lucrative option for you. There are so many freelance writing jobs online, you’re bound to find numerous opportunities to use your existing skills to earn freelance income as a writer.

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