William Hastings Burke

Custom research


Crack open your research problem with WHB Research’s custom research services, whether it be a complex documentary subject, a tricky manuscript, a new market or an age-old family mystery.

Custom research made to measure.

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custom research for business


Your Story

You don’t need to be a celebrity to find out ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. Now you can get the celebrity treatment have an historian bring your family history to life in your own interactive web documentary. →So, what’s your story?

William's story...

William Hastings Burke brought the story of anti-Nazi crusader Albert Goering to the world in his book Thirty Four – which is set to be made into a feature film. Over 20+ years, he has cracked other big cases in history, through journalism and TV to special cold-case projects for the biggest ancestry platforms. Whenever there’s a case too difficult, they turn to William.

Custom research by WHB

What is custom research?

This is bespoke research made to measure, covering a broad range of industries and needs. You might be a publisher with a tricky manuscript or a producer looking for the perfect location. Maybe you have a family mystery (we all do) that’s been following you all your life. Alternatively, you could be looking to reposition your business and require market research.

See below for a few more answers to your questions.

How does the process work?

Every research project is different. There is a big difference between a family history project and a location scouting assignment. But generally, the process starts with a conversation to create a research brief. Here, we go over the background info: what we already know and what documents are at hand (e.g., a family tree).

Then come the questions. What’s the goal of the project? How do you want the results delivered? How far do you want to take the project? Is there any travel involved? Do we need external help?

Research projects can drag on for years, so it’s crucial that all expectations and the terms of the enquiry are crystal clear for both parties. This process will ultimately inform the brief, which will outline the scope, the project timeline, form of delivery and so on.

Depending on the nature of the project, clients usually request an exploration phase to prevent us from chasing any lost causes. A base package of hours is allocated to exploration and based on the preliminary findings, you can choose to extend or discontinue the research. It’s all up to you.

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Apart from custom research for writers, do you provide other research support?

Yep. You can request research help in all different areas, from publishing, TV & Film to family history. See the full list of services here.

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How will you deliver the results?

It depends on the project and your requirements. Your results can be delivered as a standard research report, a portfolio, an in-focus profile on an individual, a biography with a narrative or even a mini-book. This will all be determined in the brief.

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How much does it cost?

This is custom research requiring a fully tailored quote. The cost will be determined by the duration (the number of hours) and other third-party costs related to admin, archive services or travel if required. While developing the brief, a base package of hours will be determined. It could be five or ten hours. You will be invoiced for that base amount and if you decide to continue the research, you can decide to commit to another package or be invoiced for any additional work. All these details, along with the hourly rate, will be covered in the brief. Just reach out here.

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What’s placeholder research for writers?

In the draft phase, writers usually leave gaps, highlight sections or add dummy text (e.g., the infamous XYZ) for dates, names or other facts that need to be researched and verified. This allows them to focus on the flow of the narrative, rather than be bogged down with chasing up info. They will then come back to these areas at a later stage and tie up these loose ends. Sometimes, this process can take just as long as writing up the first draft.

To save on time and stress, this type of research for writers can be outsourced to professionals who have the skills and tools to efficiently fill in the gaps.

Alternatively, fact-checking or authenticity analysis can be conducted on a completed manuscript or screenplay to pick up anything missed or found wanting.

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How long will it take?

Research can sometimes be a case of the proverbial: how long is a piece of string? But the short answer is: however long you want it to take. The safest way is to factor in an exploration phase into the brief with a set number of preliminary research hours. The results of which will determine whether the project merits further research or not.

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