Social scientists are increasingly drawn to research consulting careers, motivated by a desire to develop the practical implications of research, coupled with a clientele willing to invest in applied social research. Because this is a relatively new development, there are few sourcebooks on the craft of research consulting. To help bridge this gap, this issue provides a window into the way research is practiced by experienced consultants. In this opening article, the culture of consulting is discussed in relation to the culture of academic social science. Different conceptions of applied research and contrasting discourses are highlighted. Then, I show how each of the authors in this issue addresses these differences, which are barriers to communication. As bridge builders, the authors demonstrate the value of social science theory and methodology in solving applied problems in several domains. Together, they show how the pursuit of research can be joined to the business of consulting.