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Visiting Fellow - International Information Manipulation Networks

22 January 2020

Institut Montaigne is launching a short-term Fellowship Program to advance its work on online information manipulation networks in France and abroad. 


Information manipulation campaigns affect public spaces everywhere. In France, according to a study published in February 2019 and conducted by Fondation Jean Jaurès, one in five people believe at least five conspiracy theories (see the French study). Campaigns coming from the American Alt-right have had a particularly important resonance in France, as shown in the report by IRSEM and Atlantic Council on the French 2017 presidential election, The ‘Macron Leaks’ Operation: A Post-Mortem. Analyzing how international networks of information manipulation form internationally and travel, both geographically and across platforms, is key to understanding how to address them. 

Fellowship Information

Institut Montaigne’s digital program is looking for Visiting Fellows to pursue their work on online manipulation campaigns with Institut Montaigne, for a 4- to 6-month period. The research Institut Montaigne is interested in focuses on the way disinformation campaigns and conspiracy theories take shape online at an international scale (the research must include France as a field of analysis).

Candidates should feel free to apply with methods and research questions they are currently developing. As examples, Visiting Fellows could seek to analyze the evolution of online conspiracy theories and disinformation, looking at one or more of the following:

  1. How conspiracy theories or pieces of disinformation travel from one social media platform to another (Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Netflix) ;
  2. How conspiracy theories or pieces of disinformation travel from one medium to another (from text to photos to videos).
  3. How conspiracy theories or pieces of disinformation travel on different themes (environment, vaccines, global warming, new technologies, terrorism) ;
  4. How widespread conspiracy theories (such as the Great Replacement) influence disinformation campaigns.

Duration of the Fellowship

The fellowship lasts four to six months, starting in April. Visiting Fellows will 

  1. Travel to France for a two-week period at the beginning of the fellowship, to meet policy makers and experts in the field to understand the French context.
  2. Work on their research from home, for a three- to five-month period.
  3. Travel to France for a two-week period at the end of the fellowship, to present their results at Institut Montaigne and to French policy makers. 

Academic inputs

Their work will benefit from inputs from 

  • Dominique Cardon, Director of Sciences Po Medialab
  • Ethan Zuckerman, Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media


Their findings will be published on Institut Montaigne’s website in the form of a white paper. 


All travel and housing expenses are covered for.
Visiting Fellows will be paid € 5,000.

Who are we looking for?

  • Recent recipients of a Ph.D. or equivalent degree 
  • Candidates with no PhD but a strong publication record
  • Candidates should study or have studied in the fields of Media and Communications, Information Science, Computer Science, Sociology, Political Science, Quantitative Social Sciences and related fields.
  • Applicants should have extensive experience in Quantitative Methods 
  • Applicants should be fluent in English and French

How to apply?

Applicants should submit the following documents to with the subject “Fellowship on information manipulation” : 

  • A curriculum vitae
  • A cover letter including the candidate’s available dates 
  • A 2,500-word proposal (+ bibliography) for a research paper, explaining how it could contribute to the work of Institut Montaigne and to the field of research
  • Two previous research papers related to the fields of study

Successful applicants will be asked to participate in a Skype interview. 

Important Dates

The application deadline is March 20th, 2020.

About Institut Montaigne 

Founded in 2000, Institut Montaigne is a platform for reflection, proposals and experimentation dedicated to public policies in France and in Europe. Its work is the result of a rigorous, critical and open method of analysis based on international comparisons. This pioneering French non-profit think tank brings together business leaders, senior civil servants, academics, civil society and personalities from a wide range of backgrounds. Through its various publications and the events it organizes, Institut Montaigne aims to fully fulfill its role as an actor of the democratic debate.

As part of Institut Montaigne’s digital program, a number of studies have been conducted on the polarisation of the French media ecosystem, in collaboration with the Sciences Po Medialab and the MIT Center for Civic Media, on the challenges of content moderation, and on the solutions to deal with disinformation, in partnership with the German think tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung and the Alliance for Securing Democracy. Our digital advisor, Gilles Babinet, Digital Champion for France at the European Commission, regularly writes on our blog, for example on issues of transfers of sovereignty and artificial intelligence.


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