No provision of the CPRA expressly exempts university research materials. Such materials may be exempt, however, under the public interest balancing test of Section 7922.000 of the Government Code. See, e.g., Humane Society of the U.S. v. Superior Court, 214 Cal. App. 4th 1233, 1238, 1267, 155 Cal. Rptr. 93 (2013) (holding prepublication research and communications relating to a university funded study on the effects of a proposed voter initiative to restrict egg-laying hen houses clearly outweighed the public interest in disclosure under Section 6255); but see IIoh v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 87 Cal. App. 5th 513, 303 Cal. Rptr. 3d 709 (2023) (holding in reverse CPRA action that catchall exemption did not apply to post-publication communications among professor, university and academic journal regarding retracted articles that raised issues of academic dishonesty).
The Act has a number of research-related exemptions.
The Act exempts from disclosure “[d]ata, records, or information of a proprietary nature produced or collected by or for faculty or staff of state institutions of higher learning, or other governmental agencies, in the conduct of, or as a result of, study or research on commercial, scientific, technical, or scholarly issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private concern, where such data, records, or information has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted, or patented.” O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a)(35).
The Act also exempts “[a]ny data, records, or information developed, collected, or received by or on behalf of faculty, staff, employees, or students of an institution of higher education or any public or private entity supporting or participating in the activities of an institution of higher education in the conduct of, or as a result of, study or research on medical, scientific, technical, scholarly, or artistic issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private entity, until such information is published, patented, otherwise publicly disseminated, or released to an agency whereupon the request must be made to the agency.” § 50-18-72(a)(36). This exemption applies but is not limited to “information provided by participants in research, research notes and data, discoveries, research projects, methodologies, protocols, and creative works.” Id.
Further, the Act exempts “[r]ecords disclosing the identity or personally identifiable information of any person participating in research on commercial, scientific, technical, medical, scholarly, or artistic issues conducted by the Department of Community Health, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, or a state institution of higher education whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private entity.” § 50-18-72(a)(39).
In general, “[t]entative, preliminary, draft, speculative, or research material, prior to its completion for the purpose for which it is intended and in a form prior to the form in which it is submitted for use or used in the actual formulation, recommendation, adoption, or execution of any official policy or action by a public official authorized to make such decisions for the governmental body or the government body” is confidential pursuant to Iowa Code § 22.7(65).
Information related to research done by a public body may be kept confidential when the disclosure of such information may affect the proprietary rights the public entity may have in the research and results of such research. 51 O.S. § 24A.19.
The Public Records Act assumes that the University of Vermont or the Vermont State Colleges fall under the definition of public agencies, but it exempts:
“[D]ata, records, or information produced or acquired by or on behalf of faculty, staff, employees, or students of the University of Vermont or the Vermont State Colleges in the conduct of study, research, or creative efforts on medical, scientific, technical, scholarly, or artistic matters . . . until such data, records, or information are published, disclosed in an issued patent, or publicly released by the institution or its authorized agents.”
The Supreme Court of Virginia analyzed the status of a professor’s research materials in American Tradition Institute v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 287 Va. 330, 756 S.E.2d 435 (2014).