Section 22A of the FOI Act, which came into force towards the end of last year, allows universities to withhold any pre-publication research.
It was created after universities complained to the 2012 review of the Act and builds upon the Section 22 principles of future publication.
The MOJ has now released some guidance for those who want to apply the Act to requests. It says:
“Section 22A gives specific protection for information obtained in the course of, or derived from, a programme of research. It has a wide scope that includes material not necessarily intended for publication itself.
“In order for information to fall within the scope of this exemption, the programme must be continuing with a view to the publication, by a public authority or any other person, of a report of the research. This is not limited to the first such report. So long as any report of the research is still to be published, then information obtained in the course of, or derived from, the research programme falls within the scope of this exemption.”
A similar exemption exists in Scotland but no FOI decisions have been based around it.