Subject Re: The other side of academic identity
From "RL 'Bob' Morgan" <rlmorgan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date Thu, 24 Jun 2010 15:56:49 -0700 (PDT)

To paraphrase a famous Netherlands-based CS prof: the nice thing about unique identifiers is there are so many to choose from.

The concept of a unique record/identifier for authors/researchers has been around for a long time in the library/publishing community. I don't know the state of the art but it seems there are several competing or parallel activities, no doubt with their own histories of politics, ownership, regional/national boundaries, etc. It would be interesting to see if the Refeds contacts in the lib/pub space could provide some clarity.

If there is a role for Refeds in this, it seems to me that it would be in making recommendations to its member federations (and via them to institutional IdPs) in handling these identifiers to provide some benefit to apps/services. I would hope this would mean narrowing the identifier set to a small number (3 or less perhaps), and defining SAML schema for them. But putting IDs into databases and sending them via IdPs is the easy part.

The real issue is how these identifiers and their associated records (variant name forms etc) are assigned and maintained, and how those records are matched to IdM records at institutions. I'm just guessing, but I'll bet this stuff is managed currently by backroom staff at OCLC and the like, with relatively poor communications with the identified individuals and their institutions, and relatively poor assurance (ie, a lot poorer than we do at our campuses). Could these processes be improved by forging strong connections with institutional IdM, using federation among other tools? I'll bet they could. Perhaps working with one or two identifier-sources in this way would help them become the preferred ones.

As I stated, IdPs should present this ID, however it is rarely
available. This is why we are now investigating if we could use the
authoritative source of this DIA as an attribute provider.

Which illustrates my point: how do you link between a record at the authoritative source and one at the campus IdM/IdP?

So, there's a possible addition to the N-year Refeds agenda ...

 - RL "Bob"