Using Research in Digital Rights Advocacy: Understanding the Research Needs of the Internet Freedom Community

"Using Research in Digital Rights Advocacy: Understanding the Research Needs of the Internet Freedom Community," a new report from Annenberg's Internet Policy Observatory, is based on a 2017 survey of 79 organizations engaged in digital rights advocacy from around the world. The report seeks to provide clarity on how the community understands and utilizes research within current advocacy efforts and to identify the needs for future research and collaboration efforts. Through the survey, the researchers asked organizations to consider their capacities for conducting research and using it within their campaigns, perceptions of current research being produced on internet policy issues, and thoughts on barriers to and opportunities for collaboration between research and advocacy organizations.

The study seeks to address the following key questions:

  • Which research methods do organizations use the most in internal research? What capacities for research exist within organizations and via existing collaborations with research institutions?
  • What issue areas are perceived as the most researched and the least researched?
  • What kinds of aggregated datasets would be most useful for organizations’ advocacy?
  • Who are the perceived audiences for digital rights organizations’ research and advocacy?
  • What are current barriers to collaboration between research and advocacy organizations?
  • How can funding be directed to improve collaborations, increase research capacity, and produce research needed by and representative of the community?

Click here to read the full report. For more information or feedback, please email lsh@asc.upenn.edu. The researchers are interested in hearing more from the community about their findings and thoughts for future work in this area. 

Please also click here for a newly published Field Guide for Researching ICT Companies by Nathalie Marechal and Sarah T. Roberts. This guide aims to provide insights and resources for civil society groups on researching the role of ICT companies in policy.