OTF Information Controls Fellowship: Internet freedom, Democracy and Human Rights
The Information Controls Fellowship Program (ICFP) supports examination into how governments in countries, regions, or areas of OTF’s core focus are restricting the free flow of information, cutting access to the open internet, and implementing censorship mechanisms, thereby threatening the ability of global citizens to exercise basic human rights and democracy; work focused on mitigation of such threats is also supported.
- Three, six, nine or twelve month fellowships available
- Usually offered to postdoctoral, doctoral students, and experienced researchers with demonstrated ability and expertise
- Monthly stipend of $4,200 USD
- Travel stipend of $1,250 to $5,000 USD depending on the fellowship length
Typically, ICFP fellows have experience in fields such as computer science, engineering, information security research, software development, social sciences, law, and data visualization, among others. Information controls is a cross-disciplinary field, so applications are open to people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines and can include students and junior to mid-career practitioners.
Where do fellows work?
ICFP fellows embed with a host organization for the duration of their fellowship.
When applying, applicants can specify any host organization of their choosing. Regardless of whether it is a previous or new host organization, justification needs to be provided in the application. Please note that non-academic host organizations are welcome, as are those based outside the United States. While fellows are ideally able to work locally within their host organization, applicants who wish to work remotely will also be considered with the expectation that a strategy for remote communication will be established. You can find previous host organizations listed in the fellowship descriptions.
For entities interested in serving as a host organization, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Criteria and the application process
When are requests for applications made?
The 2018 application window is open from February 5, 2018 until March 25, 2018. Please note that application must be submitted via the OTF website no later than 23:59 (11:59PM) GMT on March 25, 2018. The fellowship window is open once annually.
Potential areas of focus
- Development and refinement of tools and techniques to continuously monitor internet interference on a global scale
- Investigation of information controls, security, and privacy in popular applications such as search engines, social media platforms, and instant messaging clients
- Testing creative methods of censorship circumvention
- Examination of the impact of internet censorship and use of circumvention tools
- Experimental techniques to limit pro-government manipulation of online discussions
- Analysis of targeted threats against civil society organizations, including internet filtering, denial of service attacks, and targeted malware
- Other novel ideas and approaches relating to the study of global and regional information controls
Things to avoid
- A focus on countries with minimal information controls
- Working with a host organization you are already affiliated with
- Testing of end user connections that violate established ethical principles
- Projects better suited for the Digital Integrity Fellowship Program
- Projects should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the mission of promoting freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable with activities and milestones listed monthly. The overall project goals should extend beyond traditional audiences.
- For the duration of fellowships, the fellow will be expected to work full time with their host organization.
- Before completing a submission, we strongly encourage you to review our Terms of Service.
- Please pose any questions in this public spreadsheet and they will be answered in a prompt fashion. If your question is not appropriate for a public forum, please email email@example.com.
All ICFP fellowship applications are reviewed by the OTF team; selected applications are also then reviewed by an independent Advisory Council review panel comprised of experts with deep knowledge and insight into topics related to information controls.
OTF awards are performance-based contracts between RFA and the applicant with payment occurring through a monthly stipend subject to approval each month by the OTF Program Manager and supporting host organization. OTF reserves the right to award less or more than the funds described under such circumstances as it may deem to be in the best interest of the program priorities.
Application requirements, submission, and deadlines
Project and Budget Periods
OTF fellowship contracts are 3, 6, 9 or 12 months in duration. From time to time OTF may consider applications to extend existing contracts beyond the initial project period. Any such decision will be subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the applicants, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of program priorities.
Monitoring & Evaluation
OTF views monitoring and evaluation as a way to learn from our fellows and share lessons learned with future applicants. This improves the collective knowledge of the community and thus contributes to its sustainability.
Because payment is dispersed at monthly intervals upon completion of stated contractual goals, successful applicants can expect regular contact with both their host organization and OTF project manager. Monitoring consists of compulsory monthly reports and also phone, email, or in-person discussions and consultations as needed. Fellows are required to submit brief monthly updates about their work to OTF, their host organization, and the OTF community. This allows others to review and comment on the ICFP community’s work, encouraging collaboration.
The adviser or responsible person at the host organization, in turn, provides a “traffic light” report to OTF evaluating their fellow’s progress. This report, detailed below, is the basis upon which stipend payments are released to fellows on a monthly basis.
A “green light” from the host organization signals that the fellow is on track and funds can be released. A “yellow light” from the host organization signals that while funds should be released, there are some concerns that need to be flagged to OTF. A “red light” from the host organization signals that progress has been interrupted and an intervention is required. The host organization recommends “stop payment” and OTF, the host organization, and the fellows discuss possible remedial steps to either get back on track or terminate the fellowship.
- Individuals of all ages irrespective of nationality, residency, creed, gender, or other factors, with the exception that OTF is not able to support applicants within countries that the United States has trade restrictions or export sanctions as determined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
- Individuals who demonstrate skill and ability to assist in efforts to overcome information controls.
- Individuals who demonstrate a desire to grow their knowledge and skills through a collaborative, cross-discipline approach.
- Individuals who demonstrate a commitment to reach audiences outside the research community.