Thanks to everybody who provided feedback on Version 2 of our Phase 1 methodology. After further revision we will conduct a pilot study this Fall, testing the methodology on up to 10 companies. In accordance with our work plan and timeline, we will then make final adjustments to the methodology and carry out a final round of stakeholder consultation before launching the full Phase 1 ranking of internet and telecommunications companies in 2015.
Given the importance of rigor and quality control in comparative company research, in July 2014 we launched a partnership with Sustainalytics, a leading independent research firm with extensive experience assessing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of global companies. As the research partner of Ranking Digital Rights, Sustainalytics will be involved in the design and research for the 2014 pilot study, contributing its significant expertise in the ICT sector, human rights issues, research methodology and rankings design.With experienced staff around the world and over 20 years of experience, Sustainalytics is a research provider and consultant to some of the largest global investors and financial institutions. Sustainalytics is also the primary research partner for the 2014 Access to Medicines Index.
Update (Aug 15): We are also thrilled to announce that we will be partnering with Indaba, developed by Global Integrity, to build the back-end research management system for our Phase 1 pilot this Fall.
Concurrently, with the help of University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication doctoral student Tim Libert, this summer we kicked off initial research on Phase 2 of the methodology (focusing on devices, networking equipment, and software). After further research and consultation over the next year the Phase 2 methodology will be incorporated into the ranking starting in 2016.
We are also preparing a white paper summarizing the results of our case study research, conducted with our research partners in the second half of 2013 and early 2014, which informed the development of our Phase 1 methodology. Nathalie Marechal, doctoral student at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, led the drafting of that white paper which will be published later this year. Marechal also represented RDR at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab Summer Institute. We are thankful to the Annenberg COMPASS program for supporting her summer fellowship with RDR.
In addition to the Knight News Challenge grant received in June, RDR’s work receintly received a further vote of confidence from the Ford Foundation with a substantial two-year grant. These foundations join our other funders to propel the project forward through 2015 and beyond.
Finally, we are pleased to announce the addition of a new full-time staff member, Priya Kumar, now in her third week of work as a Program Associate based at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. She joins Europe-based research coordinator and human rights specialist, Allon Bar, on what is now a three-person full-time team. At the same time we are sad to say goodbye to Hae-in Lim, our hard-working research assistant for the past year, who is returning to full-time graduate studies this month. Her inputs have been invaluable to the project’s progress thus far.