Using freedom of information requests to facilitate research

Ashley Savage, Richard Hyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a powerful tool for social researchers. However, these researchers have yet to harness the full potential of FOIA. Drawing on a number of studies using FOIA as a method of obtaining data, this article identifies the potential uses of FOIA and the limitations in its use, offering important advice on research design for studies which use FOIA both in the UK and abroad. The section 'The role of freedom of information in research' outlines the provisions of the UK FOIA and the section 'How to make a request for information' outlines the costs and benefits of utilising FOIA as a data collection tool. In sections 'The risks and rewards of FOIA' and 'Combining FOIA and other methodologies,' the article considers the place of FOIA within mixed methodology and cross jurisdictional studies, demonstrating the central role that FOIA can play in research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-317
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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