What do they know?
We recently became aware of a new website that can be used to make Freedom of Information requests and acts as an archive for all information received.
Unsurprisingly the website contains a number of FoI requests related to animal research
Browsing through this section of the website we found that two universities have supplied minutes of Ethical Review Process (ERP) meetings as requested. Interestingly only the names of individuals were redacted, quite different indeed from the volume of information redacted during the MPs expenses scandal. We understand that three more universities have also received the request and their responses are pending.
This is interesting in two ways. Clearly, a precedent has now been set and it would be safe to assume from now on that minutes of ERP meetings and other related information could appear in the public domain. Secondly, we were encouraged by the level of transparency we saw in the two universities that responded as it shows that universities now feel confident about this issue and are willing to be more open. Disclosing information such as ERP minutes could indeed benefit the community as it will show how strictly regulated this work is and the processes that researchers follow before they can experiment on animals.
We will continue to monitor the website and will update our stakeholders with further developments.