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Should some research at universities not be public? The fight is on for public records in academia




Dr. David Carpenter presents his PCB research during the town hall meeting at Pepperdine Law School.
Dr. David Carpenter presents his PCB research during the town hall meeting at Pepperdine Law School.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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The California Public Records Act requires the state or local agency to make records available from public institutions, which includes public secondary education.

But a bill is in the works to limit what can be made public. Assembly Bill 700 was introduced by Assembly Member Friedman in February 2019. The bill would exempt the release of information relating to a researcher and their work in higher education, including California Community Colleges, the California State University, the University of California, and any medical facility or lab affiliated with those public educational institutions.

Opponents of the bill say that AB 700 defines researchers too broad, would allow researchers to release information “on-a-case-by-case basis,” and protects “limited sharing of information” by researchers. Supporters of the bill say that it would allow researchers to continue with their work at the public institution without experiencing “harassment, high legal and processing costs.” Several states already exclude public universities from public records laws. If it passes, California would be the state with the most expensive public post secondary educational system, according to Undark.

Do you think work from researchers at post secondary institutions should be public? Do you think notes, peer-reviewed papers, raw data, etc, should be exempted from public requests? Are you a research who has experienced requests affecting your work? Have you requested documents from public universities relating to research?

Call us at 866-893-5722 or leave a comment down below.

Guests:

Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a sponsor of AB 700; he tweets @halpsci

Kevin Baker, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of California