Applications closed

Statistics for Improving Insights and Decisions request for proposals


At Facebook, we apply statistics to generate insights and to improve decision making for a business that touches billions of people across the globe. It is increasingly important that we advance our statistical methodologies so we can make the best decisions for our community, our products and our infrastructure.

We also believe that our statistical challenges are interesting to a broad community of researchers. In order to support academic work that addresses our challenges and opportunities while producing generalizable knowledge, Facebook is pleased to offer three $50K research grants.

Award Recipients

Arizona State University

Paul Richard Hahn


Erin Hartman

Monash University

Rob J. Hyndman

Applications Are Currently CLosed

Application Timeline

Successful awardees will be notified by email by January 2019.

Launch Date

July 29th, 2018


October 30, 2018

Winners Announced

January 2019

Areas of Interest

Researchers can submit proposals to address problems of applied statistics that have direct applications for producing more effective insights and decisions for data scientists and researchers. We have a large, active and diverse community of practitioners, so we are interested in a varied set of statistical topics, including but not limited to: experimentation, forecasting, predictive modeling, survey modeling and sampling. Here we describe some specific examples of topics that are important within Facebook, but we will gladly review proposals for areas that we have not yet considered.

  • Design and analysis of experiments. Facebook uses randomized experiments to measure the benefits of the improvements we make to our products. We seek to maximize the useful information we learn from these experiments by improving how they are designed and analyzed. We are interested in methodologies which allow us to extend or enhance the standard experimentation framework: improving the precision of effect estimates, measuring/detecting heterogenous or time-varying effects, and estimating effects of many-valued or continuous-valued treatments. We are also actively interested in research on adaptive experimentation such as Bayesian optimization and reinforcement learning.
  • Surveys, nonresponse bias and missing data. In order to improve our understanding of people’s preferences and experiences, Facebook researchers conduct surveys and design targeted feedback mechanisms. We are interested in practical methodologies that can reduce respondent burden, adjust for and measure nonresponse bias, account for measurement error, and make valid inferences for small and under-represented subpopulations.
  • Forecasting. Facebook uses forecasts to detect anomalies, to set goals, and to plan effectively. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the variety of forecasting problems we encounter in practice, and we would like to expand the set of available methodologies for robust forecasting in the diverse settings we encounter in practice. Areas of special interest include forecasting multiple related time-series and clustering/classification of time-series into related groups or categories.
  • Statistical models of complex social processes. Facebook’s products help connect billions of people around the world and we often think of our products and systems as massive, time-varying networks. We would like to improve our models for understanding how social processes evolve on these networks over time, with an eye toward designing better products and making better decisions for people on Facebook.
  • Causal inference with observational data. Often researchers at Facebook would like to answer causal questions even when it is not possible to conduct product tests. For instance, we may want to measure the effects of external events or understand the potential causes for anomalies that we observe in our data. Proposals in this area should improve our ability to suggest potential hypotheses for interesting phenomena or to credibly estimate the effects of known causes.
  • Efficient sampling and prevalence measurement. An important problem for Facebook is monitoring and measuring how well we do at removing content that violates our Community Standards from our site, such as hate speech, spam and nudity. We are broadly interested in methods that can improve the speed, correctness and certainty with which we can measure the prevalence or reach of items/users with a rare property over time.
  • Efficiency and correctness of human analysts. With hundreds of data scientists at Facebook working on a wide variety of research questions, we are interested in helping practitioners work more efficiently and effectively. Proposals in this area should aim to help us understand how analysts work with data in practice and how their work can be improved through better education, collaboration, visualizations, tools and processes.

We will prioritize proposals that are pragmatic, use-inspired and grounded in empirical applications. As a community of tool-builders, we will pay special attention to proposals that include plans for producing useful, easy-to-use and open-source software as part of the research output.

Payment will be made to the proposer’s host university as an unrestricted gift and with this we request overhead be limited to 8%.


Proposals should include

  • A summary of the project. Provide a clear and concise statement (1-2 pages) explaining the area of focus, a description of expected contribution of the project, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes.
  • Curriculum Vitae of the principal researchers
  • A one-paragraph biography of the principal researchers
  • A proposed budget description (1 page) including an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent


  • Applicants must be current full-time faculty at an accredited academic institution that awards research degrees to PhD students.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Applicants may submit one proposal per solicitation.
  • Organizations must be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code)

For questions related to this request for research proposals, please email

Terms & Conditions

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to this solicitation, including interpretation of these Terms and awards at any time. All items apply unless otherwise stated in each RFP. Please Read These Terms Carefully Before Proceeding.

  • By submitting this proposal, you are authorizing Facebook to evaluate the proposal for a potential award, and you agree to the terms herein.
  • You agree that Facebook will not be required to treat any part of the proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce and distribute all or a portion of your proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You agree and acknowledge that personal data submitted with the proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of you and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook for the purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You acknowledge that neither party is obligated to enter into any business transaction as a result of the proposal submission, Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal, and neither party acquires any intellectual property rights as a result of submitting the proposal.
  • Any feedback you provide to Facebook in the proposal regarding its products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to you.
  • Applicants represent and warrant that they have authority to submit a proposal in connection with this RFP and grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization.


If Facebook is offering event attendance and related travel to grant recipients, the specific travel benefits, travel dates and additional details (collectively, “Travel Benefits”) will be provided by Facebook to the grant recipient. Any Travel Benefits are subject to the terms set forth herein and at Sponsor’s sole discretion. Event dates and associated travel dates will be determined in Facebook’s sole discretion. Facebook will contact all event attendees to coordinate Travel Benefits. Any taxes (federal, state, provincial, and local) and other costs and expenses associated with the Travel Benefits will be the sole responsibility of the academic institution and/or attendees, as applicable.

It is each event attendee’s sole responsibility to comply with all travel requirements, which may include, without limitation, presenting a valid passport, visa and/or other necessary identification (including photograph) at the time of travel. Facebook is not liable for any missed events, opportunities or expenses incurred as a consequence of flight cancellation/delay or ground transportation delay. Attendee(s) may be required to provide a credit card at time of hotel check-in to cover hotel incidentals. By accepting Travel Benefits, all event attendees agrees to maintain their behavior in accordance with all applicable laws and generally accepted social practices in connection with participation in any event-related activity. Each event attendee understands and agrees that Facebook or travel providers have the right, in their sole discretion, to remove an attendee from any travel or event activity at any time if the attendee’s behavior at any point is uncooperative, disruptive, or may or does cause damage to person, property, or the reputation of Facebook or otherwise violates the policies of the travel providers, and in such a case, the attendee will still be solely responsible for all taxes and other expenses related to the travel benefits. EVENT ATTENDEES AGREE THAT THE RELEASED PARTIES ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE IN ANY WAY FOR ANY ADDITIONAL EXPENSES, OMISSIONS, DELAYS, OR RE-ROUTING RESULTING FROM ANY ACTS OF ANY GOVERNMENT OR AUTHORITY.

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By submitting an RFP, except where prohibited by law, each applicant grants to the Released Parties (defined below) (and their agents, successors, and assigns) the irrevocable, transferable, sublicensable, absolute right and permission to use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce, and distribute applicants’ RFP proposal (with or without reference to each person associated with the RFP) in perpetuity on the internet in any language, throughout the world, for the limited purposes of administering and promoting the RFP, Facebook’s Research program, and publicizing the gift recipients.

General Rules

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to this RFP, including interpretation of these Terms and award of gifts at any time. Facebook shall have no liability for organizations’ use of any gifts provided hereunder, including any use of gifts not in connection with the RFP.

All grant funds or other benefits provided by Facebook in connection with this RFP shall be used only in accordance with applicable laws and shall not be used in any way, directly or indirectly, to facilitate any act that would constitute bribery or an illegal kickback, an illegal campaign contribution, or would otherwise violate any applicable anti-corruption or political activities law. Gifts may not be transferred (a) to any individual, entity, or country prohibited by any applicable U.S. or non-U.S. export controls and trade sanctions; (b) to anyone on U.S. or non-U.S. government restricted parties lists; or (c) for any purpose prohibited by applicable export controls and trade sanctions, including nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or missile technology applications without the required government authorizations. You acknowledge that Facebook is subject to U.S. economic restrictions and trade sanctions. As such, Facebook reserves the right to deny distribution of any gift when required by applicable law. The applicants agree to comply with all applicable laws and regulations during throughout the RFP and while using any funds that may be received by Facebook.

Applicants agree not to accept an award made by Facebook if (a) it would interfere with their official duties, (b) it does not comply with applicable regulations, policies, and rules of applicant’s institution, or applicable laws, regulations, rules, judgments, and orders of any court or governmental authority; or (c) it conflicts with any other obligation the applicant or applicant’s institution have to any other party. Applicant also shall not perform any official action to improperly benefit Facebook.

Applicants acknowledge that they may not use Facebook’s logos or trademarks without prior written approval. All requests for use of the Facebook name or trademark must be submitted via the online form available at




Released Parties are not responsible and/or liable for any of the following: any delivery failure or other error in RFP-related correspondence, transmission or materials; technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the RFP or the processing of applications; or any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from applicant’s participation in the RFP. Without limiting any other provision of these Terms, no Released Party is responsible or liable for any injury or damage to the persons or property of applicants or any third party based on use by such party of any RFP submission made available as part of this RFP. Without limiting any other provision in these Terms, the Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any applicant for any inability to proceed with the RFP or failure to provide a gift or any part thereof, in the event that any of the RFP activities or Facebook’s operations or activities are affected, as determined by Facebook, by any cause or event beyond the sole and reasonable control of Facebook.

Disputes/Governing Law

Except where prohibited by law, any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action between an applicant and any Released Party arising out of or connected with this RFP or these Terms must be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action or legal action on behalf of any group. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will an applicant be permitted or entitled to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys’ fees, other than the applicant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (if any), not to exceed ten dollars ($10) and each applicant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

Except where prohibited by law, this RFP and any dispute arising under these Terms or related to these Terms or the RFP (whether for breach of contract, tortious conduct, or otherwise) will be governed by the internal laws of the State of California, U.S.A., without giving effect to its conflicts of law or choice of law principles or rules that would cause the application of the laws of any other jurisdiction. Except where prohibited by law, any legal actions, suits or proceedings related to this RFP (whether for breach of contract, tortious conduct, or otherwise) will be brought exclusively in the state or federal courts located in or having jurisdiction over San Mateo County, California, U.S.A., and each applicant accepts and submits to the personal jurisdiction of those courts with respect to any legal actions, suits or proceedings arising out of or related to this RFP.