Apply: SSRC Research and Dissertation Fellowships

Deadline: 16 June, 2020

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) invites proposals from scholars in the social sciences and related fields for the Social Data Research Fellowship (SDRF) and the Social Data Dissertation Fellowship (SDDF).

SDRF and SDDF, new endeavours of SSRC, with support from Omidyar Network, seek to encourage multifaceted pathways for the collection and analysis of social data, with the larger aim of cultivating robust research on technology and society. In particular, they are interested in supporting research that makes creative use of available social data to investigate how social media interact with democracy and elections. Expanding ethical scholarly access, use, and analysis of a range of social data is critical to understanding the complex ways that social media and other technologies impact political life and processes.

These fellowships will support research projects of up to 12 months that are focused on two key areas, the first being advancing scholarly research on the role of social media in elections and democracy, with an emphasis on the 2020 US elections, including local, state, and/or national primary or general elections. Topics may include (but are not limited to) disinformation, polarisation, election integrity, political engagement, political advertising, microtargeting, voter suppression, forms of algorithmic bias related to elections, the impact of news reporting and changes to the media ecosystem, or other related areas. Research that explores more than one social media platform or the relationship between social media platforms is particularly welcome, as is research that explores the disproportionate effects on the political participation of women and under-represented groups.

The second key area is expanding best practices and methods for accessing and analysing relevant data that can inform our understanding of the impact of social media on democracy, including (but not limited to) new methods of data collection and sharing; exploring implications for data privacy and ethics; alternative proxy data to inform our broader understanding of proprietary social media data; and ethnographic, journalistic, or other qualitative approaches to data collection.


  • SDRF awards up to $50,000
  • SDDF awards up to $15,000


  • The SDRF programme is open to researchers who hold a PhD in a relevant discipline and are based in an institution of higher education (college or university), or a nonprofit focused on social research (these awards may not exceed $50,000)
  • The SDDF programme is open to PhD students who are actively enrolled in a PhD programme, who may apply for awards of up to $15,000 in support of dissertation research. Applicants to the programme should have completed all PhD coursework by the beginning of the fellowship term

To apply and for more information, click here.

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