CREATE & MANAGE DATA
CONSENT & ETHICS
ETHICAL / LEGAL / FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
Freedom of Information and Environmental Information legislation give people the right to request access to recorded information held by public sector organisations. This includes requests for research data from universities and publicly funded research organisations.
Freedom of Information Act 2000
This act was established to increase transparency in the public sector. It gives people the right to request access to recorded information held by public sector organisations or be informed whether information is held. Research data can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act, but copyright to such data stays with the original researcher.
Exceptions exist to the Act, such as:
- personal data cannot be requested
- information that is accessible by other means e.g. via a website
- information intended for future publication
- information that is subject to a confidentiality agreement, such as in a signed consent form or sensitive data held under restricted access by a data archive
JISC has developed a detailed questions and answers information resource on FoI and research data.
Environmental Information Regulations 2004
This legislation gives the public access rights to environmental information held by a public authority (including universities) in response to requests (similar to the Freedom of Information Act). Freedom of access does not imply free access. There are circumstances under which requests may or must be refused, for example if the data contain personal information.
Environmental information constitutes:
- the state of the elements of the environment: air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape, natural sites, biological diversity and its components, genetically modified organisms, and the interaction among these elements
- factors such as substances, energy, noise, radiation, waste, emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment, affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment
- measures such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes, environmental agreements, and activities affecting or likely to affect the elements and factors as well as measures or activities designed to protect those elements
- reports on the implementation of environmental legislation
- cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities
- the state of human health and safety, including the contamination of the food chain, conditions of human life, cultural sites and built structures inasmuch as they are or may be affected by the state of the elements of the environment