UK Experience of Freedom of Information as a Method of Enquiry

Spiller, Keith and Whiting, Andrew (2019) UK Experience of Freedom of Information as a Method of Enquiry. In: Freedom of Information and Social Science Research Design (Routledge Advances in Research Methods). Routledge Advances in Research Methods . Routledge. ISBN 9781138345737

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This chapter considers Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as a viable tool for academic research. To date, journalist, campaigners or concerned consumers have been to the forefront in using FOIs to gain information on issues as diverse as politician’s expenses, the cost of policing a royal event or the levels of food hygiene in restaurants. Yet this line of enquiry appears to be infrequently used by academic researchers. The chapter concentrates on the UK and will offer 5 areas for consideration. Firstly, we consider the value of FOIs as a research tool. Secondly, we reflect upon some of the limitations to using FOIs in research. Thirdly, we locate the FOIA within a broader process of modernising digital information and highlight some of the challenges that can present for researchers via this trend. Fourthly, we review effective use of FOI in research. Finally, we offer some observations from our own nascent research project that is using FOIs as a key methodological approach. The chapter concludes by stressing the usefulness of the FOIA for researchers to produce democratising and politically impactful research. The chapter’s aim is to highlight the practicalities of applying this method of enquiry and to further its contribution to academic research.

Item Type: Book Section
3 December 2019Published
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-01 - social sciences (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Criminology and Sociology
Depositing User: Andrew Whiting
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2020 11:10
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 14:06

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