Using open records laws for research purposes

Shannon M. Oltmann, Emily J.M. Knox, Chris Peterson, Shawn Musgrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This article describes how to use state-level open records laws as a research tool. Similar to the federal-level Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), state open records laws allow individuals to access records and information held by state agencies. This has the potential to be a potent research tool, though it has been rarely used in library and information science to date. This article provides an overview of the federal and state laws pertaining to accessing government information, and then describes an ongoing research project that used these laws to collect data. Two pilot studies were conducted (one in Massachusetts and one in Alabama) to evaluate the potential of using of state open records laws for research purposes. The article concludes with several suggestions for other researchers who wish to use open records laws to obtain government information for research purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-328
Number of pages6
JournalLibrary and Information Science Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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