consulting fees

Thomas E. Yancey tey7004 at GEOPSUN.TAMU.EDU
Sat Nov 30 15:49:46 CST 1996


The issue of offering consulting fees to specialists for species identification
is also a vexing problem - one that I had not appreciated until a year ago. In a
grant I was involved with, we had made provision for payment to a consultant
(person unspecified) to provide identifications on specimens of a group of
fossil marine invertebrates collected in a distant region. I normally take
responsibility for identification of shell material, but needed additional aid
with this collection. Because more aid was needed than in previous
identification efforts, I wanted to do the right thing and properly pay for
identification services rendered.

There are few persons in this country capable of doing the work I wanted done.
Furthermore, many identifications done on these fossils are done without charge
as a courtesy to other workers - if the work would not require too much time to
complete. When I approached the specialist (in a museum position) most likely to
provide the identifications, he at first indicated a willingness to do the work
for payment, but later changed his mind about accepting money. He remained
willing to do the work, but would do it without charge because he was not sure
if he should be accepting outside money for such work. (Also, I suspect he had
qualms about the money dissappearing in the administrative beaucracy of his
institution.) I finally did pay a person (not the first approached) who was
willing to identify collection material on a consulting basis and proceeded with
the process of paying for identification work. I did this on principle because I
felt it important to pay when money had been allocated. Still, I also accepted
pro bono identifications provided by yet another person on parts of the
collection.

The problem here was not with the amount of work involved (I was willing to
accept whatever rate the specialist required, scaling back the amount of
material handled to fit the budget), but with the hesitancy of specialists to
engage in this aspect of taxonomic work. Admittedly, my area of study is one
with limited experience in consultancy, but I ended up being frustrated in
trying to do what I regarded as the proper thing to do to support taxonomists.
In the end, I ended up with enough experience with this collection to be able to
do future identifications myself (to the level needed in our work), so I may not
face this problem again.

I believe that some guidelines of general use to taxonomists in museums and
educational institutions would be helpful. If recommended guidelines are
available, the hesitancy I encountered might be removed and the value of
taxonomic identifications more readily acknowledged.

_________________________________________________________________________
Thomas E. Yancey                                            _______
Department of Geology and Geophysics                       |   |   |
Texas A&M University                                        _  |  _
College Station, TX 77843-3115                             |-| | |||
Voice: 409 845 0643    Fax: 409 845 6162
email: tyancey at tamu.edu




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