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Office of the Vice President for Research

Social Media and Democracy Research Grants

Social Science Research Council
Funding requests may not exceed $50,000 inclusive of any institutional indirect costs, which may not exceed 15% of the award amount.
Deadline Notes: 
Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis, with the first period of review beginning August 9, 2018.


The longstanding study of media effects on democracy and elections has taken on new resonance with the rise of social media platforms, the dramatic change in the business model of traditional news media, changes in advertising infrastructure, and increasingly globalized and interconnected communications. Recent revelations about the unintended disclosure of industry data and spread of disinformation across national borders make clear the need to better understand the impact of social media on society. TheSocial Media and Democracy Research Grant Program invites proposals that examine the impact of social media and related digital technologies on democracy and elections, generate insights to inform policy at the intersection of media, technology, and democracy, and advance new avenues for future research. The initiative seeks to study these processes in an independent, transparent, and ethical way according to the highest standards of data privacy and academic research, to improve the lives of all.

Successful proposals may receive research support (with funds contributed by seven charitable foundations to the Social Science Research Council, SSRC), data access (facilitated by Social Science One in collaboration with Facebook), and peer pre-review services (from Social Science One).

This RFP was written and defined by Social Science One, in collaboration with SSRC, following the new paradigm for industry-academic partnerships in the King-Persily paper. This RFP is issued by the SSRC as part of its Social Data Initiative, directed by Jason Rhody. The research is funded by a group of charitable foundations including Laura and John Arnold Foundation, The Democracy Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Charles Koch Foundation, Omidyar Network, and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The SSRC independently administers this research funding as well as the peer and ethics review process and, with Social Science One, manages the research process.Gary King and Nathaniel Persily, for Social Science One, and Alondra Nelson, for SSRC, work together as a Steering Committee to coordinate the activities of all participating organizations.

This RFP includes requirements that ensure research will be conducted in a transparent, accountable, and ethical way; that the findings will meet the highest standards of social science; and that scientific results are disseminated in a manner that can be appreciated by nonspecialist and scholarly audiences alike.

Please view the complete RFP via the link above or the attached document for complete instructions and details.

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