Information Controls Fellowship Program (ICFP)

Supporting individuals studying censorship through a variety of disciplines

OTF’s Information Controls Fellowship Program (ICFP) supports individuals conducting research into how repressive governments are restricting the free flow of information, cutting access to the open internet, and/or implementing censorship mechanisms. Supporting a diverse range of multidisciplinary research activities, the ICFP may fund projects that seek to develop or refine tools and techniques used to monitor internet interference worldwide, or others looking to analyze targeted online threats and attacks against at-risk groups (such as civil society organizations, journalists, or activists) in specific geographic areas. A more detailed look at ICFP’s scope and desired criteria can be found on the ICFP fellowship request page.

Important Considerations

ICFP fellows work out of a host organization of their choosing for the duration of their fellowship, which may last for three, six, nine, or 12 months.

ICFP offers fellows a monthly stipend of $4,200 USD and travel stipend of $1,250 to $5,000 USD depending on the fellowship length.

For the duration of fellowships, the fellow will be expected to work full time with their host organization.

Objectives should be ambitious while still measurable and achievable, with month-by-month activities and milestones listed accordingly.

Proposed ICFP projects should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the mission of promoting freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online. This means considering how your project directly impacts users in repressive environments.

Even for research-centric projects, there should still be a tie-in to users and/or tool developers. Consider how you see your project advancing work in these communities. Outputs that are strictly academic in nature are generally not sufficient.

When to Apply

We accept applications for the ICFP on an annual basis, typically in late winter/early spring. For example, the 2018 ICFP application window opened on February 4, 2018, with a final deadline of March 25, 2018. Accepted applicants will typically start their fellowships the following fall.

Review Process

  1. Application Submission and Review: After the deadline for ICFP’s annual application window passes, we review each application received, assigning two OTF team members to individually review it. During this phase, we may reach out to ask some clarifying questions about your application.

  2. Application Determination: Once we’ve had the chance to review your application and ask clarifying questions if needed, we’ll then contact you (along with all applicants for that round) via email and inform you whether your application will be advanced to the full proposal stage or declined. If we’ve declined your application, we’ll provide you with feedback on why it was not approved.

  3. Proposal Invitation: If you’re invited to submit a full proposal, you’ll have the chance to expand on the idea you presented in your initial application, fleshing out your plan in a more focused, detailed form. We will specify a date by which the full proposal will need to be submitted.

  4. Advisory Council Review: Each ICFP proposal is reviewed by at least two Advisory Council members, as well as two OTF team members. You can see the ICFP’s current Advisory Council members listed on the ICFP request page.

  5. Proposal Determination: Upon successful review by the OTF team and Advisory Council, we will inform you whether your proposal has been accepted or declined. After AC review takes place, we may reach out to ask some clarifying questions about your application.

  6. Legal Review: Approved proposals are reviewed by our executive, legal and financial departments. If you reach this stage, OTF’s Research Director will work with you on completing this step.

  7. Contract Issued: Once the contract has been approved, it will be issued to the applicant to sign and return. Note that each contract includes standard provisions for U.S. Government funded agreements. A sample contract can be viewed here:

  1. Project Oversight: 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’s Research Director. 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 the fellow’s progress. This report, detailed below, is the basis upon which stipend payments are released to fellows each month.

    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 may 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.