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Call for Proposal: Big Data for Development – Initial Field Studies

The Centre for Internet and Society, as part of a project with the University of Manchester and University of Sheffield, is inviting calls from researchers to undertake a brief initial study of a specific instance of use of big data for development in India. This is an exercise to build preliminary understanding of the landscape of big data for development in India, identify key research questions and priorities, and start developing connections with researchers interested in the field. The studies will be 6 weeks long - running from May to June 2016 - and the researchers are expected to produce a 3,000 words long report. We will support three field studies.

 

Study Process and Deliverable

The researcher is expected to propose and undertake a 6 weeks long study – starting from May 09 and ending on June 17 – of an instance of big data is being used to inform, target, operationalise, monitor, or support developmental and/or humanitarian activity in India.

During this period, the researcher is expected to interview 4-5 persons directly involved in the big data for development project concerned, and 2-3 other persons to get a wider sense of the context of the project.

By the end of the 6 weeks period, the researcher is expected to submit a 3,000 words long report. The report will be commented upon by Prof. Richard Heeks (University of Manchester), Dr. Christopher Foster (University of Sheffield), and Sumandro Chattapadhyay (CIS), and revised accordingly during the last weeks of June.

The individual reports will be published independently and as part of the larger project report, under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. The authors will be attributed appropriately.

All researchers will take part in a work-in-progress meeting (held over internet) during last week of May or first week of June.

Research Questions

The interviews will focus on the following topics:

  • Innovation: What is the nature of the innovation being done by the use of big data? What technical systems and/or applications are being deployed and replaced/superceded? Who are key actors in this innovation process?
  • Implementation: What is the grounded experience of implementing the big data technology? What are the key enablers and constraints being faced, both in the data collection stage, and the analysis and decision making stage?
  • Value: What is the value being created, and how is it understood? Is it organisational value, or socio-economic value? Who is gaining this value?
  • Ethics: What ethical concerns are emerging? Do they involve concerns about data quality, representation, privacy, or security? Is there concerns about a data divide being created among people who are represented in data and who are not, or among people who can gain value from the data and who cannot?

Application, Eligibility, and Remuneration

Please submit the following documents to apply:

  • Proposal: A one page note on the big data for development project that you would like to study. Please share a brief description of the project and how you will study it, including the name/designation of key people you will speak to.
  • Writing Sample: An article or a collection of articles, of not more than 8,000 words length in total.
  • CV: A short CV, two pages or less.

Please e-mail the documents to raw[at]cis-india[dot]org by Wednesday, May 04, 2016.

There is no eligibility criteria for submitting proposals. However, we will prioritise researchers living and studying big data for development projects in non X-class cities, that is in cities other than Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune.

We will select three researchers, and will offer Rs. 35,000 to each of them for this study. The amount will be paid in a single installment, after the draft field study report is submitted for comments.

 

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Author

Sumandro Chattapadhyay

As a Director at CIS, I co-lead the [email protected] programme, and engage with academic and policy research on data governance and digital economy. I can be reached at sumandro[at]cis-india[dot]org.