Book review: ICR Guide to Freelancing (4th edition)

The ICR Guide to Freelancing (4th edition)

By Helen Glenny PhD HonFICR CSci & Allan Esler Smith BSc FCA

£17.50 (+ £2 p&p) ordered direct from The Institute of Clinical Research


Over the past few years, working freelance in clinical research has become far more prevalent. It’s unclear to what extent this is due to professionals taking greater control over their careers, choice of project and work/life balance, or whether the trend towards workforce flexibility, which has already pushed personnel from pharma companies to CROs and “functional service provider” employment agencies, is continuing to push down to its logical conclusion: the individual employee. Whatever is driving this trend, more people are working in clinical research as freelance consultants and contractors than ever before, and many more are either considering it or worrying about it being forced upon them.

This timely new edition will give many people food for thought as they decide whether working freelance is a sensible career move for them, and a wealth of information and advice if they decide to take the leap. It provides a realistic view of why freelance life might be the best move someone ever makes, but also the many ways it might all come crashing down if not managed carefully.

The book builds upon three previous editions published since 2004, and continues ICR’s mission of providing valuable information and advice to clinical research professionals. Chapters deal with developing a coherent and usable business plan, explores common ways that businesses fail, discusses legal and commercial responsibilities, and business development and marketing, along with the practicalities of working without the technical, administrative, intellectual or emotional support of a larger organisation. The book includes “case study” interviews with four freelance clinical research managers, who discuss the benefits and challenges of their chosen career path. In my opinion, though, the most useful section of the book is a 30-point checklist, which brings together the key tasks discussed throughout the book in an easily-actioned format.

Sections of the book that deal with legal and tax matters refer specifically to the UK, and have been updated by a Chartered Accountant who has worked with thousands of freelancers and small businesses, but similar principles may apply in other countries, and anyone considering this career move should take individual professional advice in any event.

This is a very interesting book, which will be of great value to anyone planning to make 2014 the year when they take a leap in their career.

Click here to visit the ICR website and order your copy of this book.