Documents concerning research not subject to public disclosure
INDIANA–Documents related to publicly funded individual research proposals and projects are not subject to disclosure under the Access to Public Records Act, the Court of Appeals in Indianapolis ruled in mid-December.
The decision affirmed a ruling by the Marion Superior Court Civil Division in Indianapolis. The lower court held that “information concerning research” is a clearly defined exception to the disclosure requirement of the Public Records Act.
The case arose when Dr. Scott Robinson, an animal welfare advocate concerned with the lack of public scrutiny of university research, requested permission in late January of 1991 to review documents concerning the use and care of animals in proposed and ongoing research projects at Indiana University.
Robinson also sought information pertaining to the review process for such research applications.
Dr. George Stookey, Chairman of the Animal Care and Use Committee at Indiana University, responded to Robinson’s requests with general information on the application process. Through his legal counsel, Robinson requested more detailed information.
University counsel Linda Redman provided a written response to Robinson’s requests, indicating that, although every effort was being made to meet Robinson’s requests, the university would not release confidential information concerning research. Robinson was thus denied access to Animal Care and Use applications and other information relating to individual research projects.
The Court of Appeals held that, even under a narrow reading of the concerning research exception, the information sought by Robinson is not subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act. (Robinson v. Indiana University; Requester’s Counsel: Beth Robinson, Middlebury)