Frequently-asked questions on Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations Requests for Research Data ...
Contents <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>How many requests for research data? </li></ul><ul><li>FoI exemptions releva...
Background <ul><li>“ Climategate” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UEA/CRU FoI case resolved against UEA by Information Commissioner ...
Comment… <ul><li>The UEA case was not for research data, but for information about and communications by the researchers <...
The legislation… <ul><li>Freedom of Information Act 2000.  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/introduction </li><...
Summary <ul><li>Public right to know information held by public authorities </li></ul><ul><li>Provide response within 20 w...
How many requests for research data? <ul><li>Recorded requests are very rare </li></ul><ul><li>Asked UKHE members of RLUK ...
Request distribution
Useful FoI exemptions for research data? <ul><li>Available elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Information requested is intended f...
Intended for future publication… <ul><li>Most likely exemption outside Scotland </li></ul><ul><li>Limited:  </li></ul><ul>...
Useful EIR Exceptions for research data? <ul><li>Personal data </li></ul><ul><li>Incomplete data </li></ul><ul><li>Interna...
But there’s a public interest test… <ul><li>General presumption in favour of disclosure, unless the public interest is ser...
Sources of information <ul><li>JISC Legal  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.jisclegal.ac.uk/LegalAreas/FreedomofInformatio...
The FAQ draft <ul><li>FAQ consultation  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Print version draft (shortened), see handout </li></ul></ul>...
Take home messages <ul><li>If you get a request,  always consult your FoI Practioner ASAP </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Management...
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FAQ on FoI Requests and Environmental Information Regulations for Research Data

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Presented by Chris Rusbridge at the JISC Future of Research Conference, 19th October 2010

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  • The graph displayed shows the frequencies for the number of requests for research data over a period of 3+ years. Out of 21 HEIs who responded, 11 reported zero requests, and 4 reported 1 request. One reported 2 requests, one reported 5 requests, 2 reported 6 requests, one reported 8 and one 9 requests.
  • FAQ on FoI Requests and Environmental Information Regulations for Research Data

    1. 1. Frequently-asked questions on Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations Requests for Research Data Consultation Draft
    2. 2. Contents <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>How many requests for research data? </li></ul><ul><li>FoI exemptions relevant to research data </li></ul><ul><li>EIR exceptions relevant to research data </li></ul><ul><li>The FAQ consultation drafts </li></ul><ul><li>Main information sources </li></ul><ul><li>Take-home message… </li></ul>
    3. 3. Background <ul><li>“ Climategate” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UEA/CRU FoI case resolved against UEA by Information Commissioner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QUB Tree Ring data FoI/EIR case resolved against QUB </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Times Higher article by Hannah Fearn </li></ul></ul><ul><li>FoI guidance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much dates from around the time of introduction of FoI </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Much is oriented to Records Managers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>None for researchers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>JISC commissioned a FAQ on FoI for research data! </li></ul>
    4. 4. Comment… <ul><li>The UEA case was not for research data, but for information about and communications by the researchers </li></ul><ul><li>The QUB case was eventually resolved under Environmental Information Regulations, not Freedom of Information, and largely hinged around procedural issues. It is NOT a precedent! </li></ul>
    5. 5. The legislation… <ul><li>Freedom of Information Act 2000. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/introduction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Applies in UK except Scotland </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2002/13/introduction </li></ul><ul><li>The Environmental Information Regulations 2004. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/3391/contents/made </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Applies in UK except Scotland </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2004/520/contents/made </li></ul><ul><li>All came into force 1 January 2005 </li></ul>
    6. 6. Summary <ul><li>Public right to know information held by public authorities </li></ul><ul><li>Provide response within 20 working days </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Refusal if exemption or exception (EIR) applies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>May (or may not) have to confirm existence of the information </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Otherwise provide the requested information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The details of exemptions are critical! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Always involve your FoI Practioner! </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. How many requests for research data? <ul><li>Recorded requests are very rare </li></ul><ul><li>Asked UKHE members of RLUK plus Bath University </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24 HEIs; 3 did not respond or give enough information! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>21 responses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Over 3+ years (2007 to mid 2010), 40 recorded requests for research data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less than 2 per HEI over 3+ years </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comparatively, such HEIs currently receive o(100)+ FoI/EIR requests per year! </li></ul>
    8. 8. Request distribution
    9. 9. Useful FoI exemptions for research data? <ul><li>Available elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Information requested is intended for publication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scotland: in 12 weeks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rest of the UK, no limit </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research (Scotland) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information gathered in the course of research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research will lead to a report </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prejudice to public affairs??? </li></ul><ul><li>Health & Safety </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Information </li></ul><ul><li>Personal data </li></ul><ul><li>Provided in confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial interest </li></ul>
    10. 10. Intended for future publication… <ul><li>Most likely exemption outside Scotland </li></ul><ul><li>Limited: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intention to publish must exist when the request is made </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Timescale of publication irrelevant (except 12 weeks in Scotland) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intention must be to publish the information requested, not an article based on the information… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>So if you have a policy to publish your research data later, eg at the end of your research, then this exemption may apply! </li></ul>
    11. 11. Useful EIR Exceptions for research data? <ul><li>Personal data </li></ul><ul><li>Incomplete data </li></ul><ul><li>Internal communications </li></ul><ul><li>Intellectual property </li></ul><ul><li>Confidentiality </li></ul><ul><li>Interests of the environment </li></ul>
    12. 12. But there’s a public interest test… <ul><li>General presumption in favour of disclosure, unless the public interest is served better by non-disclosure </li></ul>
    13. 13. Sources of information <ul><li>JISC Legal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.jisclegal.ac.uk/LegalAreas/FreedomofInformation.aspx </li></ul></ul><ul><li>JISC InfoNet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/foi </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information Commissioners </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ICO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.ico.gov.uk/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SIC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ministry of Justice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/freedom-of-information.htm </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. The FAQ draft <ul><li>FAQ consultation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Print version draft (shortened), see handout </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web version (longer): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://foiresearchdata.jiscpress.org/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Comments please! </li></ul>
    15. 15. Take home messages <ul><li>If you get a request, always consult your FoI Practioner ASAP </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Management: listen to your FoI Practioners! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Outwith Scotland, a policy always to publish your data may help to protect them until the time is right! </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>

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