Individual Federations have varying attribute release mechanisms compared to what is provided by the AAF. You may find it difficult to obtain the attributes required for your service from international IdPs. The global community recognised this is an issue and has created a mechanism to help resolve it, the Research and Scholarly (R & S) entity category. By having your service assert this entity category you are making a statement about your service and its attribute requirements.

R&S is a user-friendly method for providing collaborative services to researchers and scholars using their federated identities.

The R&S category was developed by REFEDS - the Research and Education FEDerations group ( and applies to Service Providers that support research and scholarly activities such as Virtual Organisations and campus-based collaboration services. Participants use R&S to provide collaborative services for researchers and scholars via their Federated Identities.

The R&S category applies to Service Providers (SPs) that support research and scholarship interaction, collaboration or management.

How does R&S work?

Categorising Service Providers as R&S simplifies Identity Provider configuration. Participating Identity Providers release a minimal set of low security attributes via a one-time addition to their default release policies. After making the addition, the Identity Provider can release attribute information about users without needing to change their attribute release rules.

By default most Identity Providers (IdPs) only share “opaque identifiers” that do not contain attributes. In this situation, Service Providers must bi-laterally negotiate to release attributes from individual IdPs.

The R&S category provides a simpler and more scalable approach to simplify IdP configuration. Service Providers and Identity Providers participating in R&S release specific attributes. As a result, researchers and scholars on campuses that support R&S can seamlessly access a growing list of R&S services without delay and without contacting their local IdP admin.

Asserting R&S

Your service provider must meet the following registration criteria to be eligible for asserting the Research and Scholarly.

  • The service enhances the research and scholarship activities of a subset within the user community.
  • Service metadata has been submitted to the registrar for publication, using the AAF Federation Registry

The service meets the following technical requirements:

  • The Service Provider is a production SAML deployment that supports SAML V2.0 HTTP-POST binding.
  • The Service Provider claims to refresh federation metadata at least daily.
  • The Service Provider provides an mdui:DisplayName and mdui:InformationURL in metadata (an english language version xml:lang=”en” is RECOMMENDED).
  • The Service Provider provides one or more technical contacts in metadata.

R&S Service Providers MUST resolve issues of non-compliance within a reasonable period of time from when they become aware of the issue. Failure to do so MUST result in revocation of the entity’s membership in the R&S category.

Service examples that should be R&S

Consider the necessity for the service to:

  • Display a name so work can be attributed to a particular user or to show them as the contributor (e.g. Wiki)
  • Having a user’s email address for correspondence such as updates about a grant application
  • Note: Optional services such as alerting systems are not part of the core offering and therefore are not considered sufficient for R&S membership.

Service examples that should NOT be R&S

Services that should not be included in this category include:

  • e-Journal, ebook or other data access, where content may be accessed based on user affiliation without a need for personal information.
  • Services selling products or offering discounts to staff or students based on their affiliation.

Definitions and candidate services

R&S can apply to both free as well as commercial services

Collaboration – A service that functions as a collaborative tool (at least in part) meets the intent of this category.

Examples: Wikis, Calendaring and Scheduling Tools, content, document management systems, mailing lists and various software’s

Research - is inherently a collaborative endeavour.

Examples: Web apps, portals, computational tools for researchers and collaborative learning platforms

Collaborative tools and services require the users name to function effectively.

The R&S attribute bundle includes a name-based identifier (eduPersonPrincipalName) as essential attributes.

The bundle also includes the users email address to facilitate communication among the users of the service as well as the service and its users.