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Press Release: New FOI Handbook for Academic Researchers

27 September 2012

To mark Right to Know Day on 28 September, the Constitution Unit at UCL is publishing a new handbook for academic researchers on how to make FOI requests.

“Academics are educated and intelligent people” the Unit’s director Robert Hazell said. “But it is remarkable how stupid they can sometimes be when framing FOI requests. So we thought it would be worth producing an FOI Handbook specifically for academic requesters”.

The new handbook contains the Constitution Unit’s collected wisdom on the successes, pitfalls, tips and tricks to help academics make the best use of FOI. It is based on surveys and interviews with academic requesters, and with government officials who deal with their requests.

Dr Ben Worthy, senior researcher on the project, advises academic requesters: “Think about FOI requests early on. Be realistic: you are not going to get every response back in 20 days. So expect delays, and allow for that in your research timetable. And be realistic about what comes back: you may not get the information in the format you asked for”.

Notes for Editors

· The Constitution Unit’s handbook Making Freedom of Information Requests: A Guide for Academic Researchers is published on 28 September, and is available here. Hard copies can also be requested by emailing constitution@ucl.ac.uk

· It is the product of a research project on FOI and Universities, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

· The project also produced a report on the impact of FOI on universities: see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/foi/foi-universities

· Dr Ben Worthy is now a Lecturer at Birkbeck, and can be contacted at b.worthy@bbk.ac.uk

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