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2019 PIL Research Fellow Application
Project Information Literacy (PIL) ( has an opening for a part-time “PIL Research Fellow” in 2019. The Fellow must work at a campus in the U.S. The selected Fellow will join the PIL Research Team on June 10, 2019 and will work on average 12 hours a week (M-F) through December 13, 2019. The Fellow will be paid a $1,000 stipend at the conclusion of the fellowship in December 2019.

The deadline for applying for the PIL Research Fellow is Thursday, May 23 by noon PST. If you would like to apply for the “PIL Research Fellow” opening, please complete this GForm and submit it by Thursday, May 23 by noon PST. Thereafter, we will be conducting phone interviews with 4-5 finalists we've selected so we can discuss the study and the Fellow's tasks in greater detail and answer any questions finalists' may have.

About the Fellowship:

The PIL 2019 Fellow will work virtually on our latest national research study that examines today’s information environment and the impact of algorithms, i.e., pieces of computer code that make lightning-fast calculations and decisions for and about us. The Fellow will learn and develop a mastery of qualitative research methods, including interviewing, data coding, content analysis, and reliability testing of student focus group and faculty interview data that we collect. The Fellow will learn methods for collecting data from students at different institutions and analyzing emergent research trends. In addition to learning and practicing rigorous research methods, the Fellow will learn the day to day process of what’s involved in conducting a national research study from collaborating closely with team members and collecting data to the analysis of trends and writing up of results, especially what it takes to collaborate closely with a group of 7-8 other team members that are geographically dispersed.

Grounded in knowledge gained from PIL’s decade of large-scale studies on how college students find, use, and create information for course work and in their personal lives, and more recently, on the interplay of journalism, new platforms, and trust in media, the final 25-30 page research report, co-authored by Alison Head and Barbara Fister, and released in December 2019 will summon educators to embrace the challenge of understanding new forms and channels of information beyond academia. A set of recommendations will be offered in the report for three groups — librarians, educators, and journalists — who work where information and young adults intersect.

Fellowship Qualifications:

For this study, we are specifically looking for applicants for the “PIL Research Fellow” with the following qualities:

1) Ability to work virtually for 12 hours during the M-F work week, on average, from June 10 – December 13, 2019 (including permission from a dean, director, or supervisor that you are available to spend time working on our study as part of your regular job).

2) First-hand experience and knowledge with helping students find news and information for course research assignments and personal research needs.

3) Strong interest in algorithmic-driven resources, i.e., what they are and how they are changing the information landscape in dramatic ways.

4) Strong interest in conducting research about information literacy, today’s students, and the impact of algorithms on information seeking.

5) Holds a MLS or related graduate degree.

6) Has previous training and experience in research methods and familiarity with research terminology.

7) Knowledge of IRB process and experience with crafting thorough and successful IRB applications (preferred).

8) Has current CITI certification (preferred).

9) Is highly collaborative, collegial, professional, and has a sense of humor and can easily establish camaraderie with others (not optional).

We anticipate there may be more responses for the PIL Fellowship than there are available openings this year. We will, therefore, make the final sample selection based on your: (1) research experience, (2) willingness to dive in, work with others, and learn new skills quickly, (3) (passionate!) interest in qualitative research about students and their information seeking practices, (4) awareness of algorithms and how they shape social media and other online resources many of us depend on each day, and (5) complimentary fit with our existing team members and the research expertise and talents that they bring to this study. (Thanks in advance for understanding the necessity of our highly selective evaluation process for this study.)

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and ER&L, a leading library conference, are sponsoring PIL’s latest research effort, the eleventh study for the influential PIL project. New data from interviews with more than 100 students in focus groups and in-depth phone interviews with faculty on six different college campuses across the country will be featured. Data will be collected about faculty and student awareness of black-box algorithms that are dramatically influencing the information they encounter and impacting their ability to distinguish facts from falsehoods in the news and information they may receive.

For a FAQ about the algo study, please visit

Thank you and best of luck if you choose to apply!

- Alison Head, PIL Executive Director, Principal Investigator, the Algo Study

Email address *
Your name *
Where do you currently work? *
What is your educational background? (It's fine to copy and paste in this info from your CV.) *
The Fellow will will work on average 12 hours a week for PIL from June 10 - December 13. As far as you know now, which days are you most available to work on PIL tasks during the week? *
In a few words, tells us a little bit about yourself and why you want to be a PIL Research Fellow on the algo study, and what excites you about this research project? *
Tell us one thing that makes you a particularly good choice for being our 2019 PIL Research Fellow. *
Is there anything else we should know about you? *
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