Regional workshops on freedom of information and HE researchers
Freedom of information legislation (the UK and Scottish Freedom of Information Acts, and the Environmental Information Regulations) 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.
The RIN, in association with the following organisations, is now examining the implications of FoI for the Higher Education research community, notably with regards to ﬁnding ways of dealing with the disclosure of research data: JISC, JISC Legal, the Information Commissioner’s Ofﬁce, the Scottish Information Commissioner, The National Archives, the UK Data Archive and the Information & Records Management Society, as well as the three universities hosting the events. There is a need for evidence-gathering as a ﬁrst step in a process to provide researchers and their institutions with appropriate guidance and support.
Three free regional workshops were organised in this context:
- 22 March 2011, University of Manchester - chaired by Matthew Stephenson, Head of Information Governance, University of Salford. Further information about this initial event in the series can be found here.
- 1 April 2011, University College London - chaired by Professor Robert Hazell, Director, UCL Constitution Unit. Further information about this second event in the series can be found here.
- 12 April 2011, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow - chaired by Professor Alan Page, Dean of the School of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Freedom of Information, University of Dundee. Further information about this ﬁnal event in the series can be found here.
The events were intended primarily for HE researchers, including research students and senior research managers, but they were attended also by FoI and compliance ofﬁcers, research managers and records managers. The intention was to develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities represented by FoI, and how they can best be addressed. The events were aimed at:
- raising awareness of FoI legislation and its implications; and
- gathering evidence from researchers and others in the HE sector about their practices and concerns, and the support they would like to have in their approach to FoI.
Participants were able to contribute directly to the formulation of outputs from the workshops, thereby providing them with a real opportunity to inﬂuence the way that FoI impacts on their professional lives. The programmes for each workshop and the presentations made at them are available on the website, through the three links above. A report summarising the discussions from the three events is attached below. Comments and reactions are very welcome, as these will help us to determine what practical steps might be taken next in collaboration with interested parties. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Background on RIN’s involvement in issues around FoI can be found here.