The Government has agreed to introduce an exemption to the Freedom Information Act for on-going research. The proposed amendment will afford the protection already existing in Scotland to pre-publication research conducted in England and Wales.
The announcement was made in response to a report by the House of Common Justice Committee. This recommended that pre- publication research should be exempt from Freedom of Information requests.
The Government Response recognised that the ‘adoption of a qualified exemption for research would provide additional clarity and reassurance, both to Higher Education Institutions and non- public sector research partners.’ The aim is to ensure that research conducted in England and Wales is able to successfully compete with international institutions to which the Freedom of Information Act does not apply.
Universities UK and other bodies have been campaigning for such an exemption. Vivienne Stern of UUK welcomed the announcement, stating that the exemption allows researchers to ‘verify and analyse their own findings, and ensure they are subject to peer review before entering the public domain.’
Project Officer, UKRIO