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The 2016 ISRF Social Media Essay Competition

The 2016 ISRF Social Media Essay Competition

The Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) and Big Data & Society (BD&S) intend to award a prize of CHF 1,000 for the best essay on the topic ‘Influence and Power’.

The ISRF and BD&S invite submissions from scholars across the social science disciplines, philosophy, and the humanities, whose work have implications for the competition’s theme and falls within the remit of BD&S’s goals. The full statement of the ISRF’s criteria and goals may be viewed here.


Influence and Power (This is a topic, not a title. Accordingly, authors are free to choose an essay title within this field.)


The Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) and Big Data & Society (BD&S)


  • CHF 1,000
  • The winner will also be invited to present the work during a special event at Social Media & Society 2016 and will have the conference fee waived and travel costs covered.


31 January 2016


  • Eligibility: Participants should either be current doctoral students or within three years of being awarded their doctorate.
  • Essay length: 5,000 to 7,000 words
  • Essay format:Follow the BD&S Author Guidelines, available on the BD&S website.
  • Language:English
  • Submissions should be made online at authors should indicate that their submission is for the special theme, ‘ISRF Essay Prize.’
  • For the purposes of the competition, participants should either be current doctoral students or within three years of being awarded their doctorate.
  • The essay will be judged on its originality and independence of thought, its scholarly quality, its potential to challenge received ideas, and the success with which it matches the criteria of the ISRF and BD&S.
  • The successful essay will be intellectually radical, orthogonal to existing debates, and may articulate a strong internal critique across the field of social science in relation to the digital. Its challenge to received ideas will have the potential to provoke a re-thinking of the topic. The ISRF is interested in original research ideas that take new approaches and suggest new solutions, to real world social problems.
  • Big Data & Society publishes interdisciplinary work principally in the social sciences, humanities and computing and their intersections with the arts and natural sciences about the implications of Big Data for societies. The Journal’s key purpose is to provide a space for connecting debates about the emerging field of Big Data practices and how they are reconfiguring academic, social, industry, business and government relations, expertise, methods, concepts and knowledge.
  • The submitted essays will be judged and the winning essay will be chosen by an academic panel (the ISRF Essay Prize Committee). The panel’s decision will be final, and no assessments or comments will be made available. The result will be notified to applicants by email during April 2016 and will then be announced by posting on the websites of the ISRF and of BD&S. The ISRF and BD&S reserve the right not to award the prize, and no award will be made if the submitted essays are of insufficient merit.
  • The winning essay will be accepted for publication in the Journal; the author may be asked to make some revisions before publication. Other applicants may have their submissions accepted for publication in the Early Career Researcher forum of BD&S subject to the Journal’s peer review and decision-making process.
  • Please read these details carefully before submitting your essay for consideration or contacting the Independent Social Research Foundation or Big Data & Society with a query.


All queries should be directed to


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