Call for Proposals: The Role of Cybersecurity in the Spread of Disinformation and Misinformation
Virginia’s Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) aims to create a Commonwealth-wide ecosystem of innovation excellence at the intersection of cybersecurity, autonomous systems, and data. CCI’s mission includes research, innovation, and workforce development.
Many important problems in CCI’s focus area require expertise in the relevant technologies combined with expertise in social/economic/policy/legal/ethical domains. Examples include election security, privacy and ethical concerns with the introduction of artificial intelligence, cyber offensive activities, misinformation, disinformation, data-driven public policy, etc. With CCI, we have a unique opportunity to build multi-disciplinary teams of researchers from across Virginia to collaborate on some of these problems.
The deliberate or inadvertent spread of false information is increasingly viewed as a national security issue with elements of cybersecurity, intelligence and foreign policy going to the heart of how and why these narratives are created, how they flourish, and what we can do about them. In the words of Dr. David Woods, an expert on human factors in cybersecurity and a recent speaker in the CCI seminar series, “disinformation campaigns – emergent and intentional – are the challenge of the next decade.”
We seek proposals from multi-disciplinary teams in the CCI network to conduct research on the how cybersecurity and artificial intelligence tools and concepts may help to limit, deter, or stop the creation and spread of disinformation and misinformation.
The objectives of the program are: to provide seed funding for multi-disciplinary teams to address a research question that requires the combination of technical expertise in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence with expertise in the social sciences, humanities, and/or law; to generate research findings that advance the state of the art on the topic; and to increase the competitiveness of the teams for extramural funding.
Researchers and faculty members at public institutions of higher education in CCI who are deemed eligible by their home institution to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) on an external grant are eligible to apply.
- The research topic to be investigated must be aligned with the cybersecurity aspects of the spread of disinformation and misinformation.
- Projects must involve a multidisciplinary team, with at least one researcher from the relevant technology discipline (typically, Engineering, Computer Science, Math, Statistics, etc.) and at least one researcher from the relevant social science and humanities discipline (typically, Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Political Science, Philosophy, Law, Public Policy, etc.).
- Multi-university collaborations are encouraged but not required. In multi-university collaborations, one Principal Investigator must be identified as the lead, and the grant will be made to their home institution.
- A researcher can submit at most one proposal as a PI and one as a co-PI.
This call for proposals is in partnership with the Institute for Society, Culture, and the Environment (ISCE), at Virginia Tech and the National Security Institute, at George Mason University. Our partners have provided advice in the design of the program and call for proposals and will help evaluate and disseminate the results of the program.
We anticipate funding proposals with a budget that does not exceed $65,000 USD. Budgets should be proportional to anticipated scale of impact. Indirect costs (IDC) are not allowable.
Successful applicants are expected to participate fully in the activities of CCI, including providing materials needed for reports, participation in CCI meetings, and responding to data collection requests by CCI. All publications and presentations resulting from the grant should acknowledge support from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). Grant award letters will supply an example of this acknowledgement.
Request for Proposals Released
Feb. 9, 2021
March 15, 2021 5 p.m. EST
April 16, 2021
June 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022
The proposal must be submitted via email to email@example.com no later than the close of business day (5:00 p.m.) on Monday, March 15, 2021. Be sure to include the subject line CCI Cybersecurity for Disinformation Proposal in the email.
All proposals must be submitted as a single PDF document
A committee including representatives from CCI will review the proposals and make funding recommendations. Evaluation criteria will include:
- Strong intellectual merit relevant to CCI’s mission and to the topic of this call,
- Strong broader impacts related to CCI’s mission,
- Relevance to the needs of industry and government agencies,
- Building of multi-disciplinary expertise in Virginia on the role of cybersecurity in curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation,
- Potential to generate additional funding and revenue.
Specific questions concerning this RFP and the requirements set forth herein should be directed in writing to the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the subject line CCI Cybersecurity for Disinformation Proposal in the email.
Proposals must use 1-inch margins, 11-point font or larger (Arial or Helvetica) and single line spacing. The following outline is to be followed:
1. Title page (one page)
Title of the proposed project, name, affiliation, and contact information for Principal Investigator (PI) and co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs).
2. Proposed Project (up to 4 pages)
Rationale: Discussion of the technical background and engineering/scientific justification. This should include a clear statement of the research question to be investigated and a case for the intellectual merit of the proposed work.
Research Plan: What exactly will be done? How will the objectives be met? What are the motivations, methods, likely outcomes, milestones, and future directions? What are the major products of the project (e.g., scholarly publications, policy briefs, grant proposals, presentations to the public, contributions to policy makers, media appearances)?
3. Impact to the Commonwealth (up to 1 page)
Address the expected impact of the project to Virginia. This may include, for example: specific plans for extramural funding that will be pursued as a result of the project, potential for commercialization and economic development, and/or workforce development in the Commonwealth.
4. Budget (up to 2 pages)
Budget items and justification.
Up to 2 pages each for PI and co-PIs, using NSF format.