LinkedIn opens up data to researchers to learn about the job market

Academics can submit proposals that address economic opportunity.

LinkedIn will open up its data to academic researchers for the purpose of better understanding the labor market and the economy, Bloomberg reports. The company is inviting academics to submit study proposals that in some way involve analytics, economics or artificial intelligence and it will select projects early next year. If chosen, researchers will then get access to "one of the largest and most robust datasets of professional and economic networks," according to LinkedIn Chief Data Officer Igor Perisic.

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, giving researchers access to troves of user data may not seem like the best plan. But LinkedIn has put a number of protections in place to ensure its users' privacy isn't violated. Researchers will only be able to access aggregated, anonymized data and they won't be able to download it themselves. All proposals will also be vetted by LinkedIn's legal and security teams. "In any research we conduct, we seek to ensure that the purpose of the research does no harm to our members, is done in accordance with ethical and legal standards and minimizes the amount of data that is accessed and used," Perisic said in a blog post.

The new call for proposals is part of LinkedIn's Economic Graph Research Program a follow up to its 2014 Economic Graph Challenge. The goal for the the initial challenge and subsequent research partnerships was to create greater economic opportunity through projects utilizing LinkedIn's data. As part of this effort, selected research projects must "relate to economic opportunity with an eye toward enabling a level playing field for economic outcomes."

Submissions will be accepted until December 1st and selected proposals will be notified within three months after the submission period closes. You can learn more about the program and the proposal rules here.