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Is it advisable for a graduate student to work as a freelance copy-editor (for few hours a month, for papers in his/her area of interest)?

This topic emerged a few days ago during a conversation among a few colleagues of mine; we came up with the following upsides and downsides:

Upsides:

(1) increased financial independence;

(2) valuable training.

Downsides:

(1) possibly time consuming and stressful.

Is there any other upside or downside we may have overlooked? (For example, could this kind of experience turn out to be a positive addition to an academic CV?)

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Who says you're any good at it? Why would a colleague pay you for such a service when many lab-mates or other colleagues would do so for free or a promise to return the favor later? Who says anyone local to your area would pay you for such a service? Freelance implies not working for an existing service, so are you prepared to deal with the necessary tax implications of being self-employed (in the US or your country)?

I wouldn't expect this to appear on a CV, and I would find it strange if I read a CV with it this experience listed unless the candidate worked for a professional editing service (where it might be a plus for them).

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  • About the initial questions: in fact, the topic came up because a colleague of mine received a small offer. Personally, I strongly agree that the experience is atypical and figuring out the tax laws may be tricky. – user41681 Jul 17 '16 at 19:03
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    In the US, unless your colleague is treated illegally as an independent contractor, the people giving the small offer should deal with the taxes. If that goes OK, then the work might be more attractive. – Bill Barth Jul 17 '16 at 19:44
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    @BillBarth what makes you think that this it would be illegal to treat this kind of work as independent contracting? It would seem to meet the typical IRS requirements assuming that there's no restriction on how, where, or when the copy editing is done. – Brian Borchers Jul 17 '16 at 20:13
  • @BrianBorchers, I can see aspects of independence on when and how, easily. But I'm no employment lawyer. I'd still want to know more details about a job like this in the US before I knew what side to come down on. Lots of jobs like this appear casually and are treated as independent even when they may not legally be. This is done to try to save the company money when it's not allowed usually at the expense of the worker. I'd want my CPA or attorney to look at the requirements before accepting a side job like this. – Bill Barth Jul 17 '16 at 20:32
  • @BrianBorchers, also, I meant that a company might have a hard time employing others and ICs to do this on their behalf. That's what I'd be leery of. – Bill Barth Jul 17 '16 at 21:17

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