Freedom of Information for Researchers

Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation is highly relevant to researchers in higher education; as creators of information and/or data they need to comply with the requirements of the law with regards to allowing access to their research outputs; and as users they might make use of FoI as a means of obtaining information and/or data.

There have been some controversial recent cases which have resulted in large amounts of research data being released under FoI against the wishes of the researchers and universities who have produced it. This has led to uncertainty over exactly how confidential and protected research data is, both before and after a study has finished. These issues are likely to become clearer over time as further cases are resolved. 

The Protection of Freedoms Bill 2011 extended FoI rights by requiring datasets to be available in a reusable format. This may have a further effect on research data produced by universities.

The Freedom of Information Act is also available as a tool for researchers who wish to obtain recorded information and/or data from public authorities.

Information Assurance Services provide specific training for researchers covering FoI as well as other areas they are required to be aware of. 

If researchers or other staff have any queries about FoI or other relevant issues they should contact Information Assurance Services.

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To make a Data Subject Access Request, or a Freedom of Information Request, please contact IAS directly.