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R&S Category Key to Supporting Seamless Research Service Access

Mar 21, 2018, by Dean Woodbeck
Tags: InCommon Federation, Recent Posts, Trust & Identity

The Research & Scholarship Category (R&S) is key to one of InCommon’s main missions - to enable seamless research and academic collaboration. When an Identity Provider supports R&S, it shares a small set of information (attributes) to every Service Provider (SP) in the category. When a national research and education federation (like InCommon) vets and adds a new Service Provider to the category, that SP automatically receives the needed attributes.

R&S benefits faculty, staff, and researchers who use collaboration tools nationally and internationally. These users can move from one tool, database, wiki space, or other services seamlessly. And the attribute bundle is directory information: a user identifier (eduPersonPrincipalName), a person name, and an email address. An optional, but helpful, attribute is the person’s affiliation (eduPersonScopedAffiliation). 

The R&S Category originated with InCommon, then moved to the REFEDS organization, making it international in scope. There are, however, a number of InCommon Identity Providers that release the R&S attribute only to U.S. services vetted by InCommon, as opposed to releasing it to all services internationally (this is no longer allowed). While there is no timetable at this point, InCommon intends to retire this legacy InCommon-only status and affected IdPs should move to support the REFEDS version. For information on complying with REFEDS R&S and adding your IdP or SP to the list, see the wiki.

While not explicitly part of the Baseline Expectations for Trust in Federation, R&S is an important key to interoperability. The chart below shows the adoption rate of R&S; note that the REFEDS global R&S took effect in 2015.