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re: "How much do you get paid for a [FILL IN BLANK]?"
Upwork does not set rates for projects. Freelancers set their own rates. Clients may choose to pay those rates, or work with somebody else.
Clients may post jobs with suggested budgets or pay ranges. Clients may discuss specific jobs with freelancers and may propose an amount to be paid for those jobs.
But ultimately the freelancer always has a choice about what rates to accept or decline for any given contract.
I have no idea what kind of research you do, or what your qualifications are, or how much you are able to demand in an open market place. Your profile is not public, so there is not much we can say about that.
I am a database specialist and on occassion, I have written research papers relating to this topic for clients. Topics have included: how to create single query statements that return results from separate databases NOT on the same server; how to set up database operations with full PCI DSS compliance; identifying marketing weaknesses for a company's database products; etc. (This research was meant for internal use by companies, and was not intended for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. So if you prefer to refer to these by a term other than "research paper," that is okay.) I have also published in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Methods, Nature Biotechnology, Nucleic Acids Research and others.
Pay for these has ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
re: "Is it alright to decline when you already have a contract?"
Agreeing to one milestone does not obligate you to additional milestones.
re: "What I'm afraid of is the feedback i'd receive if ever I ask to end it (since I expressed my opinion on the pay rate)."
Well.... That is a valid concern. But you also don't want to waste your time.
Fixed-price contracts are not meant to be indentured servitude.
I would tell the client:
Thank you for your continued interest in hiring me to work on research papers for you.
If you want to change the rate per research paper, that is certainly possible. But before I agree to work on papers at the new rate, I would need you to first close the current contract."
If the client closes the current contract, you can then block him from communicating with you, and there is nothing he can do about it.
If he won't close the current contract, you can close it yourself, and then you can block him from communicating with you, and there is nothing he can do about it.
Write a research paper for what? School? Let's put the crazy low amount aside for a moment.
If you do the work and it is an academic assignment, it's academic fraud:
4.1 EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED USES OF THE SITE
I hire researchers occasionally, although primarily on another job board. For a job that would take me less than ten minutes, but I don't have ten minutes (or just plain don't feel like doing it) I might pay $15/hour with a cap of two hours to do the work. I find that fixed price for research is an iffy thing. With a novice, I'll go the $15/hour rate, and if they succeed we go immediately to $20/hour. My head of research gets $60/hour, staff researchers get around $30-35.
If I happened upon a $2.50 payment for a 500-600 word researcch paper, I likely would cross the freelancer off my list.