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  The meaning of The Public Domain in the context of personal information in archival records (EE/DRFMAT7P/61947)

   Department of Mathematics and Information Sciences

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  Prof J Mcleod  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The meaning of The Public Domain is central to many aspects of the information age, including the proper working of open government, where it informs the review of public records and handling of personal data in archives; the security of individuals’ personal data; and the commercial interests of an increasingly data-driven economy. It is also subject to legal compliance demands e.g. Freedom of Information. However, despite its importance the concept is complex and ill-defined in law and in practice. There is no satisfactory legal definition of The Public Domain, little public discourse, and no public consensus on what it is. Determining whether personal data is already in The Public Domain, and whether that is sufficient justification to publish or keep records closed, is complex and surrounded by difficult ethical and juridical considerations, which are further compounded by technological change.

This PhD will therefore examine the meaning of The Public Domain in the context of personal information in archival records, and how in practice it can be determined in individual cases. There are three vital and interdependent perspectives to explore - the juridical, individual and temporal perspectives – each one providing scope for the research. The study methodology will be qualitative and it is anticipated that it will examine particular cases, interview relevant legal, government, advocacy and other practitioners and gather the views of selected interested parties on the different perspectives potentially via a focus group(s).

Enquiries regarding this studentship should be made to: Prof Julie McLeod, [Email Address Removed] or [Email Address Removed], 0191 227 3764

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.

Funding Notes

The full-time studentship provides full support for tuition fees, and an annual tax-free stipend at RCUK rates (for 2015/16 this is £14,057 p.a.)


McLeod, J. (2014). Rethinking archival methods: reconceptualising electronic records management as a wicked problem. Special Issue of Archives & Manuscripts, V42 (2), pp. 93-96
Childs S, McLeod J, Lomas E & Cook G. (2014). Opening research data: issues and opportunities. Special Issue of Records Management Journal on Big data, open data, V24 (2), pp.142-162
Moss, M. (2013). Where have all the files gone? Lost in action points every one?’ Journal of Contemporary History, 7 (4). pp. 860-875.
Childs S, McLeod J & Hardiman, R. (2013). Multiple methods for information science research: A systematic literature review, Delphi studies and digital dissemination strategy. SAGE Research Methods Cases

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