The Holistic Librarian – Thing 16

Hi, I’m Aeronwen Cole and I’m the Subject Librarian for Archaeology, Classics & Ancient History, History and Modern Languages.

Task 16 was to document “A researcher receives a Freedom of Information request about research data. How should he proceed and what should he consider when responding to the request?”

What I knew about the topic beforehand:

I knew Freedom of Information (FoI) requests must be responded to unless an exemption allows you not to disclose the information. I was aware of some high profile cases where researchers haven’t wanted to respond to a FoI request.

What I know now:

Legislation requires the University to respond to a FoI request within 20 working days from receipt of the request. It is good practice to acknowledge a request on receipt. If a researcher is in any doubt about how to respond or does not want to supply the data then he should consult his immediately. If a researcher normally agrees to share data, he should continue to do so, whilst bearing in mind areas such as ethics, privacy and confidentiality. However, in circumstances where he does not want to supply the data, or if he thinks there are legal or ethical reasons why he shouldn’t supply it then he should consult his FoI Practitioner as soon as possible. He should keep all communications between himself and the requester.

How did I obtain this knowledge?:

I looked at the JISC Freedom of Information and research data: questions and answers web site and the University of Exeter Freedom of Information web pages.

What else would I like to know about this topic:

My awareness of this issue will increase if I have requests from researchers.

How did I find this task? How would I improve it?

I found this task interesting to research and I’ve learnt a lot.

Posted under Holistic Librarian, Training

This post was written by A.G.Cole on December 5, 2012

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