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Challenges of freedom of information for researchers Susan Graham University Records Manager University of Edinburgh.

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Presentation on theme: "Challenges of freedom of information for researchers Susan Graham University Records Manager University of Edinburgh."— Presentation transcript:

1 Challenges of freedom of information for researchers Susan Graham University Records Manager University of Edinburgh

2 A person who requests information from a Scottish public authority which holds it is entitled to be given it S1, Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

3 Openness and research data Freedom of information Funder pressure Publisher pressure Public pressure

4 Exemptions Research in progress Commercial interests Actionable breach of confidence Personal data Health and safety Cost of compliance But: Exemptions narrowly drawn and subject to numerous tests

5 Research in progress (s 27(2)) Information obtained in the course of or derived from a programme of research is exempt information if the programme is continuing with a view to a report of the research (whether or not including a statement of that information) being published AND disclosure of the information before the date of publication would, or would be likely to, prejudice SUBSTANTIALLY: the programme, the interests of any individual participating in the programme, the interests of the authority THEN apply the public interest test

6 Subject matter of University of Edinburgh FOI requests in 2010 Requests focus on admin Increasing interest in research

7 University of Edinburgh: climate change I write regarding an article in Journal of Climate and another in Nature. Are the data, when and where it was collected, the basis of selection, methodology and algorithm publicly available?

8 University of Edinburgh: climate change Article 1 –Review article: referred to references Article 2 –Base data: provided web address –Simulations: mounted on website –Algorithm: available in Nature –Additional commentary provided

9 University of Edinburgh: public engagement on stem cell research I would be grateful if you could provide me with: –a list of names of all attendees at this public debate – an indication of how the event was recorded at the time – any other documentation that the University of Edinburgh might have at its disposal regarding this event, such as additional notes or transcripts and any recorded feedback from attendees –any additional information relating to the concerns raised at this event that the University of Edinburgh brought to the HFEA’s attention at the time.

10 University of Edinburgh: public engagement on stem cell research a list of names of all attendees at this public debate –Withheld: personal data an indication of how the event was recorded at the time –Provided in full any other documentation, such as additional notes or transcripts and any recorded feedback from attendees –Feedback no longer held, rest provided in full any additional information relating to the concerns raised at this event brought to the HFEA’s attention –Provided in full

11 University of Edinburgh: Medical Research I would like copies of the two annual reports submitted to Medical Research about the research grant for the above study.

12 University of Edinburgh: Medical Research I would like copies of the two annual reports submitted to Medical Research about the research grant for the above study. –Withheld: research in progress

13 Impact on commercial relationships Universities are competing in a world- wide market Upfront clarity –Contract clauses –Clearly identify confidential material Consultation

14 Freedom of information & research: 5 key points In Scotland, we can protect genuinely sensitive information –Build safeguards into contractual arrangements Act quickly –20 working days to respond to a request Follow your institution’s procedures –Why is giving this out harmful? –Seek advice, especially if refusing a request Create clear and professional information –Dispose of unnecessary information Ensure your information is accessible in your absence

15 Any questions?

16 Susan Graham University Records Manager University of Edinburgh


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