Guidelines for Public Record Requests of Research Records

Faculty and staff should understand that any records (including paper documents, email, databases, notes, photographs, videotapes, and other writings or communications) that they create or maintain related to research they are doing are University records. These records therefore must be managed according to University records retention policies and are subject to the provisions of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA), which requires disclosure of public governmental documents.

  • Remember, most of our work is public and is available to anyone upon request. Under the MGDPA, all University research records are public unless they contain information that is made private by the law. 
  • University records can only be made private by Minnesota statute or federal law. Information contained in research records that might be considered private under either Minnesota or federal law includes:
    • Security information, such as where labs and facilities are housed;
    • Private personnel information, such as cell phone numbers;
    • Student information, such as grades; and
    • Trade secret information. “Trade secret information” is defined by statute and may include such things as:
      • unpublished research data and other information not known to others, disclosure of which would prove detrimental to continued research or publication opportunities
      • information that might be considered for a license or patent
      • proprietary information (sensitive business information not known to the public)supplied by an outside company or sponsor
    • Other information made non-public under a state or federal law or regulation
  • All record requests should be forwarded to the Office of Data Access and Privacy for processing. The Office of Data Access and Privacy reports to the Office of General Counsel, and is responsible for responding to all University requests for information. Contact information is:

The Office of Data Access & Privacy

360 McNamara Alumni Center

Campus Mail Code 2014A

(612) 625-3497 (phone)

  • The Office of Data Access & Privacy will work with the PI responsible for the records. Once a request for research records is received, The Office of Data Access & Privacy will inform the PI of the request. The Office of Data Access & Privacy, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel, will work with the PI to determine what information exists relevant to the request, and if any of that information falls under the trade secret provision or some other legal provision making the information private.
  • The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act provides for compensation for staff time used in gathering the information, but only if copies are requested.  The Office of Data Access & Privacy will work with the PI and staff members to compile an estimate of charges to be sent to the requester if copies are requested. Under statute, if a requester only wants to view the information, the University may not assess a charge or require the requesting person to pay a fee to inspect the data.
  • The Office of Data Access & Privacy will redact private data from the requested records. Once the information is gathered and redacted, the PI will be given the opportunity to review the redacted documents prior to release.

Contact Us

Douglas R. Peterson
General Counsel

Office of the General Counsel
360 McNamara Alumni Center
200 Oak Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

612-624-4100 (phone)
612-626-9624 (fax)

Make a data request through the Data Request Center.

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