With limited exceptions, Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) does not apply to:
- Records about or associated with research
- A record of teaching materials
The definitions below provide guidance on what the terms research records and teaching materials are commonly understood to mean for the purpose of administering FIPPA.
“Research records” includes records that are collected, prepared, and maintained for a research purpose. The research program or project may be proposed, in progress or completed. The research is conducted or proposed by a University employee, student, research assistant, private research partner or other person (individual, group or organization) associated with the University.
Record types: may include documents in various media and formats containing information about research methodology, reference material, research notes, formulas, calculations, surveys, interviews, compositions, artwork, literary works, etc.
Location and storage: records may be stored and located on the University’s computing system, in science laboratories, animal care facilities, employee offices, home or other off campus office, and in the office files of research centres, institutes and other units with responsibility for: research ethics for human and animal subjects; research grant applications; University and industrial liaison; clinics; etc.
Instances of research records
- Detailed information about proposed or continuing research contained in an application and its supporting documentation submitted to a granting agency
- Research information contained in an application for research ethics approval involving human or animal subjects
- Information acquired by agreement from a government body for a research purpose such as vital statistics and clinical data
Where research records do fall under FIPPA: the subject matter and amount of funding being received with respect to research is required to be disclosed pursuant to a request under FIPPA. See also the University’s Policy on Sources of Research Funds.
“Teaching materials” includes records that are collected, prepared, and maintained for a teaching purpose. The teaching material is for use at the University. The teaching is conducted by a University employee which may include a professor, lecturer, teaching assistant, sessional instructor, adjunct professor, professor emeritus or other individual, group or organization associated with the University; and may also include non-credit instructors who are independent contractors if the terms of the contract stipulate that teaching materials are the property of the contractor.
Record types: may include documents in various media and formats and be in the form of lesson plans, lecture notes, reading lists, reading schedule, assignment topics, overhead slides, case studies, exercises, assignments, quizzes, tests, and other instructional materials.
Location and storage: normally, teaching materials created and maintained by faculty members to produce and deliver a course are personal records belonging to the instructor and do not fall under FIPPA, even when the records are physically stored in the employee’s office at the University. These teaching materials may be stored and located on the University’s computing system, in science laboratories, in instructors’ offices, in the office files of the academic department or Faculty, and so on.
Instances of teaching records
- Research undertaken to develop a course topic, outline or assignments
- Notes to assist the instructor in delivering a lecture
- Visual aids – overheads, PowerPoint and multimedia presentations used in adding interest and/or explication to a lecture
Where teaching records may fall under FIPPA: versions of teaching materials that have been approved by University governance and administration bodies and are incorporated into the University’s recordkeeping system. Examples may include course numbers and titles, course descriptions, outlines and syllabi, method of evaluation including grading schemes, etc.
This document has been developed to assist in establishing good practices and procedures. Additional questions or requests for advice on records and information management or information and privacy issues should be referred to the Information and Privacy Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org.