Call for Proposals: Joint Digital Rights & Internet Policy Research Projects (apply by 30 April 2017)

Within the constellation of actors engaged in internet policy and digital rights debates, academics are uniquely positioned to mobilize evidence-based research for advocacy and policymaking. However, the research conducted within academic communities is often siloed within disciplinary spaces and only occasionally produced in collaboration with activists and with impact objectives in mind.

The Internet Policy Observatory at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania invites organizations and individuals to apply for funding for research projects that have specific and tangible policy & advocacy impact objectives. Individual or joint applications are encouraged from civil society organizations, those working in digital rights advocacy and policymaking, and those engaged in academic research. The goal of this call for proposals is to generate collaborative research projects on topics of relevance to the internet freedom community that are empirically rigorous as well as pertinent to current international, regional, or local digital rights advocacy efforts.


Applications should propose a research project that would provide empirical weight and further advocacy efforts in an area related to digital rights and internet freedoms. Topics of relevance include but are not limited to access to online resources, freedom of expression online, the economic and social effects of internet policies, ICT companies and human rights, privacy and surveillance online. Applicants should be able to justify the need for the research and are expected to produce a set of deliverables that are relevant to academic, advocacy, and policymaking communities.

The organizing committee will accept several categories of applications. These include:

  • Individual academics looking to partner with a relevant advocacy organization to integrate his/her research into current advocacy campaigns or policymaking debates.
  • Civil Society organizations currently engaged in advocacy campaigns that seek to identify a research partner able to operationalize a particular research question of interest/relevance to the organization’s current work.
  • Joint applications between a researcher/research team and one organization engaged in advocacy, activism, or policymaking. Joint applications can come from newly established partnerships or from groups that have worked together in the past.

For the first two types of applicants, the IPO team will work with promising individuals and groups who apply after the initial application process to help identify relevant partners and build the project.

Funded projects will be expected to include the following deliverables:

  • An academic paper/report to be submitted for peer review and/or published with the IPO.
  • A shorter-form, digestible, media-ready product to be distributed to appropriate stakeholders (policymakers, politicians, the public).
    • Examples include short reports, user guides, primers, infographics, etc.
  • A publicity plan for impact: How will your team publicize the findings amongst relevant stakeholders to maximize policy and advocacy impact. This can include a media plan, small launch event or private meeting with stakeholders, among other ideas.

The IPO invites applications on a rolling basis. The closing date for all applications for review will be April 30. Applications should include a concept note between 3-5 pages (detailed information on application requirements are available here). Joint proposals will be provided up to $15,000 USD as seed funding for pilot projects that could later become larger and longer-term collaborative initiatives.

For more information, please see the full call here or email

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