Entering Public Comments and Documents received via a FOIL request

I need assistance in how to enter documents into the Zotero App so that it can be used for my citations and reference lists. (I apologize for making multiple postings as I figured it would be better to have each of the 4 types of document be a distinct post.)

Situation A) The letters are posted to the Agency website (https://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/71619.html) in chunks where each PDF has numerous pages and many separate submissions from different individuals and organizations. In some of the submissions they included additional materials.

How would I enter/cite if the submission is by a person on behalf of a company or organization?

Situation B) I have received via a Freedom of Information Law request public comments, letters and online submissions. These were provided to me as a MS Access Database which contained the comments received via their website’s public commenting system and then the scanned documents which was organized into 77 boxes, each with multiple “batches” of scanned documents which have hundreds of comments in each. (These were originally organized for DVDs but were provided to me via FlashDrive) How do I enter these? (Of course I would only enter ones where I am actually using the comment or document.)

Do I note somewhere that they were received pursuant to a FOIL request? Do I need to include the Box and Batches?

For the Database file how would I do that as well?
  • There are no hard-and-clear answers on citing such materials. What I would keep in mind is the two purposes of citation:
    1) Make it as easy as possible for readers to obtain the documents themselves
    2) Give a clear sense about the nature of the documents you're citing: Who authored them (author), when (date), for whom (publisher/institution/authority, etc.), and where/how did you find them (archive, URL, etc.).

    With that in mind, I would then also pick a fairly generic item type in Zotero (like letter, report, or manuscript) and just populate fields.
    In particular for FOIA data, at least in fields I'm familiar with such as history, political science, and sociology, it would be typical to explain their nature and provenance in the text. It'd also be a good idea to see if you can make them more readily available for readers (e.g. via a data repository).

    Same is true for the other item types. Note that hearings and statutes are quite limited in what Zotero allows, so you'll likely pack most relevant information in 2-3 fields.
  • While it is clear that the data fields required for legislation will vary from country to country, I think it would be better to have an item type that is "Legislation" and provide basic fields. This would remove a common mystery that users face when using Zotero.
  • Zotero's "Statute" is for all practical purposes "legislation" (it's actually referred to as legislation in citation styles)
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