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Research & Scholarship Category

InCommon has partnered with its peer R&E federations worldwide to create the Research and Scholarship Entity Category (R&S), a simple and scalable way for Identity Providers to release minimal amounts of required personal data to Service Providers serving the Research and Scholarship Community. Institutions that certify their IdP for R&S realize the following:

  • Convenience for faculty and researchers: they instantly access participating services using campus credentials without administrator involvement
  • Enable collaboration: When a research project adds a service to the category, collaboration across participating campuses is immediate
  • Vetted services: InCommon reviews each service application for adherence to the category definition and requirements
  • Save time and resources: once enabled, there is no additional involvement of IT staff to provision new R&S services

A list of all current R&S IdPs and SPs is available for your perusal.

Contents

How It Works

The Research & Scholarship (R&S) Category defines specific criteria for SPs that are designed to facilitate IdP policy decisions to release a controlled set of low-risk attributes to them without local review for each SP.  InCommon also provides metadata and technology tools to further facilitate automatic, but controlled, release of attributes to the R&S SPs, as well as aiding user support.

IdPs leverage this to simplify the management of their Attribute Release Policies by taking advantage of the R&S Category. With a one-time addition to their default release policies they can specify a set of attributes to release to all SPs that are in the R&S Category. This addition then applies to SPs that are added to the category in the future, without the IDP administrator having to make any changes. IdPs also assert their support for R&S in federation metadata, allowing R&S-certified SPs to enhance the user experience of those IdPs' researchers.

R&S Category Attributes

InCommon IdPs are strongly encouraged to support R&S by releasing the R&S attribute bundle to R&S category SPs. With respect to attributes, note that InCommon Service Providers are already bound by the requirements of the InCommon Federation Participation Agreement. For the purposes of R&S, participants should pay particular attention to Section 9 of that document:

Excerpt from InCommon Participation Agreement

9. Respect for Privacy of Identity Information

Participant agrees to respect the privacy of and any other constraints placed on identity information that it might receive from other InCommon Participants as agreed upon between Participant and the InCommon Participant(s). In particular, Participant understands that it may not permanently store nor share or disclose or use for any purpose other than its intended purpose any identity information that it receives from another InCommon Participant without express written permission of the other InCommon Participant. Participant understands that the storing and sharing of resources is between the Participant and the InCommon Participant(s) and is not the responsibility of InCommon.

It is therefore highly recommended that SPs use a minimalist approach to attributes, only requesting those attributes that they absolutely need. In the future, as InCommon interoperates with federations in other parts of the world, it is likely that IdPs in other countries may be operating under laws and regulations that require a minimalist approach to attribute release.

R&S Application Process

Certifying your IdP or SP for R&S is easy, although SPs do require a review period to verify compliance with the requirements. See How to Apply for the Research and Scholarship (R&S) Entity Category for details. For more information specific to IdPs and SPs, see:


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