Frequently Asked Questions

We offer flexible and varied support, tailored to the nature of the projects and needs of both clients and academics

About consulting

Who is LSE Consulting?

LSE Consulting is a team within LSE Research and Innovation that manages consulting via LSE’s subsidiary LSE Enterprise Ltd. The business was established in 1993 by LSE as a consulting service for its academic community, forming a vital bridge to connect academic expertise to clients worldwide. 

What’s the difference between academic consulting and research?

Consulting is an activity based on a service, providing expertise to an organisation. Often, there is a reference to the word ‘service’ in tender documentation which indicates the consulting element. The project, including required outputs and timeline, is defined and set by the client. In consulting activity, the intellectual property rights are often retained by the contracting organisation rather than the academic or LSE. VAT is applicable to UK/EU consulting activity.

Research grants provide funding to undertake research in a particular area or topic without a pre-determined output. Costs are based on actual expenditure, requiring financial records, and intellectual property rights are retained by the academic or LSE. 

What type of projects are considered consulting?

Projects you may undertake as a consultant include evidence and systematic reviews, policy research, socio-economic analysis, corporate and industry analysis, evaluation and impact studies, speaking engagements, training and expert advice.

Learn more about these types of projects by visiting our Academic Consulting in a Nutshell page.

What kinds of organisations seek academic experts?

All kinds of organisations seek academic experts. For public sector bodies and non-governmental organisations, there is often a procurement route to securing consulting via a competitive process. On the other hand, corporate organisations usually follow a less formal route seeking individual expertise to support specific projects or activities. 

What does the lifecycle of a consulting project look like?

How much time do I need to spend on a consulting project?

This depends on the scope of the project. There are a variety of ways to manage the required time, including securing junior research support and outsourcing some of the tasks.

Why should I undertake consulting activity as an academic expert?

As an academic expert, consulting is an opportunity to create impact with your research skills and expertise, build long-lasting partnerships, and generate additional income.

Visit our Benefits of Consulting page for more information.

Do I need to already have my PhD to undertake consulting?

No. There is usually a range of consulting roles required depending on the project needs, and we do our best to match an opportunity to an individual’s experience. Though a PhD can be beneficial to a project, industry experience can be equally valuable. 

Why should I undertake consulting activity as a PhD student/ECR?

For PhD students and Early Career Researchers, academic consulting is an opportunity to gain valuable professional experience in your field of study, expand your network of contacts, develop transferable skills, and access data otherwise unavailable. Additionally, you can explore whether consulting is an industry that you’d like to work in.

Visit our pages on Benefits of Consulting and Consulting as a PhD student or Early Career Researcher for more information.

Consulting at LSE

A client approached me with a consulting opportunity, what do I do?

Start by contacting LSE Consulting who can support you with client discussions and developing a proposal. You may prefer to connect directly with the client initially to discuss the scope and timeframe of the project, but we recommend that you do not agree to any fees or begin the contracting process without seeking input from LSE Consulting. No contract should be signed without a full review of the terms and an agreed proposal for the activity.

Remember, LSE Consulting will sign contracts on your behalf to protect you from any liability.

Do I need to work with LSE Consulting in order to undertake a consulting project?

If you or a client wish to reference and use LSE’s name or brand in any way, including email correspondence with the client, you are required to route the project via LSE’s dedicated consulting service (LSE Consulting). If you choose to consult in a private capacity, you are not allowed to use LSE’s name, brand, or facilities, and you will not be covered by LSE’s insurance.

Can LSE Consulting help me determine the scope of a consulting project?

Yes. LSE Consulting can either review project specifications or help define a project brief. We have proposal templates and can assist in proposal development, budget, and client negotiation. 

Can I work with experts and organisations from outside LSE on a consulting project? If so, how do I?

Yes. Depending on the project requirements, you can identify experts and partner organisations beyond LSE. LSE Consulting can contract them on your behalf. We can also help in finding partner organisations and/or additional experts outside LSE.

How do I employ junior researchers/research assistants?

LSE Consulting can contract junior researchers on your behalf who will be paid from the project budget via LSE Enterprise Ltd. We will be responsible for setting up contracts and making the payments. If required, we can also identify suitable junior researchers/research assistants to support a project.

Should I sign a client contract?

No. We will sign all client contracts on your behalf to protect you from liability. You are not allowed to sign client contracts on behalf of LSE or LSE Enterprise. There are a limited number of authorised signatories in LSE, and it’s LSE Consulting’s role to manage this process for you.

Should I sign an NDA?

All client contracts, including NDAs, should be sent to LSE Consulting for review to ensure the terms are acceptable. We can organise for NDAs to be signed on your behalf if a consulting engagement is likely to follow. If there is no future consulting activity anticipated but an NDA is still required to receive client data or to enter into discussions with an organisation, the NDA should be signed under LSE. This can be supported by the LSE Research Development Team and/or the Contracts Manager.

Am I insured to undertake a consulting project?

Any project run via LSE Consulting is automatically covered under LSE’s professional indemnity insurance. If you are operating a consulting project as an individual for private purposes, you are not covered under LSE’s insurance.

The financial side

How does the contracting process work and how do I get paid?

LSE Consulting will contract with the client on your behalf under LSE’s wholly-owned subsidiary, LSE Enterprise Ltd. Once a project has been contracted, the project team and any external individuals or partners will be contracted separately to LSE via LSE Enterprise Ltd. Fees agreed are paid based on project work delivered and client invoicing, and are in addition to any LSE salary.

What should I charge for consulting?

Consulting day rates are priced according to commercial rates and not based on actual salary costs. LSE Consulting can help negotiate your rates, which will vary depending on the type of client, the length of the project, the number of days, and your experience. Traditionally, our overhead is included in a day rate. We can offer advice on appropriate rates for particular clients and/or projects.

What does working with LSE Consulting cost?

LSE Consulting charges for work contracted. There is no cost for proposal submission. LSE Consulting applies a 20% overhead to the total project budget. The overhead is deducted against invoices raised. 

How do I calculate the LSE Consulting overhead?

LSE Consulting’s overhead is based on 20% of the total budget. If you’re adding an overhead on top of a day rate or a budget line cost, you need to calculate at 25% in order to allow a 20% deduction of the total.

Can I use consulting income to support my salary costs or for my research fund?

Yes. LSE Consulting can help you use your consulting income to support LSE salary costs through your Department or Centre’s reimbursement mechanism. Subject to available project funds, this can be done for a portion of your salary cost over a pre-approved period. Some academics and researchers also choose to waive taking a fee directly in favour of transferring some or all of their fee to a research fund. This can be done via an OutSide FUnd (OSF) transfer under your name, held in LSE Finance for you to access. 

Getting started

How do I get started on a consultancy project?

Get in touch – reach out via and we’ll help you map out your consulting plan.