Digital Revolution Small Grant Program


The Center for Social & Behavioral Science (CSBS) will provide small grants to social and behavioral scientists at the University of Illinois to study issues related to the digital and technical revolution. Digital devices and information are growing increasingly intrinsic to our day-to-day existence. The power and scale of our ongoing digital revolution provides opportunities and challenges for social and behavioral science. Engineers create remarkable tools that can be used by social and behavioral scientists to conduct cutting edge research. In turn, digital platforms and the information they contain can be misused to influence important social and behavioral outcomes, like voting and mental health. Given the strength of the engineering, information sciences, and social and behavioral science communities at the University of Illinois, we believe this is an intersection of issues in which we should invest.

The goal of the CSBS Solving Digital Revolution small grant program is to seed efforts by social and behavioral scientists to work together with engineers and information scientists to address the social and behavioral issues related to the dramatic changes and opportunities happening in digital technology. The long-term goals of this funding initiative are 1) to create successful teams of researchers who will apply for grants from external funding agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and 2) to establish a future Center at the University of Illinois that will focus on the social and behavioral aspects of digital and technological studies.

The CSBS Digital Revolution small grants may range from $5,000 to $20,000 and are available to both faculty and staff at the U of I. Teams of researchers at various stages of the research process are encouraged to apply. In addition to the financial support provided to initiate projects, the CSBS will also match the initial funding after research teams submit viable proposals to national funding agencies or foundations that reflect the efforts first supported by the CSBS.

Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis until funds are depleted. Applicants will be notified of the decision after the applications have been reviewed.


The CSBS Digital Revolution small grants are intended to support activities that will result in the eventual submission of a proposal for external funding such as:

  • The development of new, innovative research projects
  • The creation of interdisciplinary networking groups
  • Small pilot studies needed to support larger funding proposals

Criteria for submissions to the CSBS Digital Revolution small grant program:

  • A well-articulated plan of research activities that focus on the social and behavioral science issues raised by the digital revolution
  • Innovative approaches to research on the social and behavioral components for digital issues
  • A clear path to writing and submitting one or more funding proposals to external granting agencies
  • Research that has the potential to contribute to the broader community of scholars working on issues related to digital and technological issues

The CSBS Digital Revolution small grants are not intended to support:

  • Expenditures generally made by departments and colleges (e.g., travel to professional conferences)
  • Delivery of outreach programs or services
  • Student master’s or dissertation research
  • Tuition waivers
  • PI/Co-I salary
  • Course buyouts
  • Meetings/brownbags
  • Travel (unless specifically required for data collection to complete the research project)

Submission process:

Applicants are asked to first upload a one-page pre-proposal via the online submission form..

The pre-proposal should provide a brief indication of:

  • The goal of the project
  • The methods used to achieve the goal
  • How the financial support will be used
  • The members of the team being assembled
  • The nature of the external funding proposal to be written
  • The funding announcement, if appropriate

The one-page pre-proposal will be vetted by the CSBS. If the pre-proposal is deemed viable then a 6-page full proposal will be requested covering the same topics.  The full proposal will be evaluated by the review panel, which consists of senior social and behavioral science researchers from across the campus.

A current CV from each team member should be submitted along with the full proposal.

Post-award support:

The CSBS will provide close follow-up support on funded projects. If unforeseen problems arise in the implementation of the research, the CSBS will do everything possible to help address the situation. However, the CSBS reserves the right to recoup monies from projects that cannot be completed as outlined in the original proposal. The decision to recoup monies and the determination for when monies will be recovered will be made at the sole discretion of the CSBS.

For projects that are completed, a funding proposal submitted to a granting agency will suffice for a progress report.

If a funding proposal is not created as a result of the support within a year, investigators are expected to provide an annual project status update and a brief (one page) final report upon completing the project. These efforts allow us to track and report outcomes as well as monitor the success of our small grant program.

If investigators wish to make changes to the project team, description, design, or budget during the course of your project, please send a request to with the details of these changes. Any such changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should not be made without prior approval from the CSBS.


If you have any questions about the CSBS or the CSBS Digital Revolution Small Grant Program, please contact Peter Ondish at You may also contact Cristina Alvarez Mingote at

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