Fourth annual NFOIC competition invites research proposals focused on FOI, technology

The fourth annual National Freedom of Information Coalition research competition welcomes one-page proposals for papers that shed light on freedom of information, particularly those focusing on technology and FOI.

Top-three papers will earn cash prizes and will be guaranteed publication in the online Journal of Civic Information, published by the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information.

Authors are invited to submit a one-page paper proposal, which will be reviewed by a panel of freedom of information researchers. Proposals should include a one-paragraph abstract/summary, a paragraph outlining the proposed methodology, and a paragraph explaining the relevance of the potential findings for government agencies, FOI advocates, and access practitioners (e.g., journalists, citizens, record custodians). 

Proposals may encompass any research methodological approach (legal, survey, experimental, content analysis, etc.), and should provide insights of practical value for those who work day-to-day in access to government information.

The theme for the competition this year is technology and FOI, but proposals also will be accepted for other topics regarding FOI, such as access to public records, court transparency, open meetings, access to public employees, open data, and other related matters. Other policy topics of interest to NFOIC and state coalitions are posted online at Proposals should focus on civic information at the state/local levels, but topics regarding U.S. FOIA and international access also will be considered if they have relevancy or application to state coalitions for open government (e.g., the spreading of the “Glomar response” from federal agencies to state/local agencies, or the effects of technology or policies on agency transparency in a federal agency or other country that can be applied to any government agency).

Because the primary purpose of the Journal is to furnish actionable information to professionals, an article’s usefulness to a lay audience will weigh in the publication decision; we encourage authors to consider audience accessibility in decisions of presentation style and depth of treatment.

All submissions must be submitted via email by no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, May 3, 2022. Email your one-page, single-spaced proposal as a Word file to paper competition chair Dr. David Cuillier, University of Arizona School of Journalism, 

Those whose proposals are accepted must submit a finished paper by Aug. 1, 2022, and present their findings in-person at the summit in September (place/date TBD), to freedom of information practitioners from throughout the United States. First place will receive $500, second place $300 and third place $200, provided by NFOIC. The top three papers will be guaranteed publication in the online Journal of Civic Information. All of those invited to present also will receive free registration to the summit, provided a free dinner to network with each other, and will interact with summit attendees to feature their research. Graduate students are especially encouraged to submit their work. To see previous papers presented, go to 

The National Freedom of Information Coalition, based at the University of Florida, is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 to assist state coalitions of open government. The intent of this new paper competition is to link research with those who could apply that knowledge for the betterment of government and democracy. The convening also will provide a venue for scholars to interact with practitioners to gain new insights and ideas for future research that can make a difference.