Wanted: Research Assistant for The Roots of Progress

by jasoncrawford1 min read19th Apr 20211 comment

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UPDATE: I’ve filled this role. Thanks to all who applied!

I’m hiring a part-time research assistant to support work on my essays, talks, and the book I’m writing on the history of industrial civilization.

You must have the ability to orient yourself in unfamiliar mental territory; to penetrate the fog of confusing, incomplete, and contradictory information; to sniff out reliable sources of key facts and to corroborate them; and to quickly sketch out a new intellectual landscape.

You will handle queries such as:

  • What happened to the price of cotton and the wages of textile laborers before, during, and after textile mechanization in the 18th/19th centuries? Find data and analysis on this, including relevant statistics on labor productivity, and produce a list of sources.
  • What startups or other commercial projects are pursuing advanced nuclear reactor designs? Make a list, and fill out details of each in a spreadsheet, such as type of reactor, amount and sources of funding, etc.
  • Find first-person accounts of agricultural life and work before the 19th century, including descriptions of regular planting and harvesting seasons, and also times of crop failure or even famine.
  • What is the difference between a bloomery, a blast furnace, and a Catalan forge? Make a list of sources that address this question.

The deliverable will typically be a list of sources, with brief notes on what each one contains, ranked roughly in order of relevance to the original query. You don’t have to answer the questions I pose, but you need to find sources that help me answer them.

The only real requirements are writing skills and attention to detail. However, the ideal candidate would be:

  • A graduate student in history, economics, or a related field (ideally with access to scholarly sources)
  • Familiar with and interested the progress community in general, and my work in particular
  • Able to put in part-time work with fairly quick turnaround (24 hours for small queries would be excellent)

If you lack experience and credentials, apply anyway: you can make up for it by being dedicated, diligent, and willing/able to be trained.

The work will be variable, up to roughly 10–15 hours/week. We’ll mostly communicate by email/messaging, so you can be in any time zone. Pay: $25–30/hour, depending on qualifications.

To apply, send a CV/resume and writing sample to me at jason@rootsofprogress.org.

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While not directly related to your query, have you thought about simply posting those questions to Quora and relevant StackExchange and  websites (https://hsm.stackexchange.com/ and https://history.stackexchange.com/)?