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WVU joins InCommon Federation, improving access to U.S. research community

West Virginia University researchers will be able to meet what is often a key criterion in the grant-application process and gain easier access to partner institutions now that the University is a member of the InCommon Federation.

Information Technology Services finalized the relationship with the identity-management association for U.S. research and education institutions, and their sponsored partners on May 6.

InCommon serves more than 7.5 million users, and gives all parties the assurance that only people who are entitled to certain kinds of data and information will get access. For WVU users, InCommon eliminates the need for a second set of credentials. WVU MyID credentials will work seamlessly with InCommon partners.

“Basically, you have a federation where everyone says, ‘I trust your credentials and you trust mine,” yet each party continues to control the level of access that users get, says Don McLaughlin, a research associate in computer sciences.

The benefits will become apparent as more people use the system, McLaughlin said, but the convenience of a single sign-on is immediately apparent.

“Researchers who collaborate with people across the country can work together without having a whole file drawer of user names and passwords,” he says.

WVU’s inclusion in the federation also signals that the University’s identification systems are considered trustworthy and secure, says Sara Bishop, Assistant Director of Applications for ITS and overseer of the MyID system.

The National Science Foundation encourages the use of InCommon for grant submissions, and McLaughlin said that every NSF application he’s submitted in recent years included questions about the University’s cyber infrastructure plan and plans for addressing InCommon.

“Now we can say, we did it. We’re done,” McLaughlin says.

InCommon is operated by Internet2 and has 624 higher education, government, nonprofit laboratory and research partners. For a complete list, visit http://www.incommonfederation.org/participants.

WVU’s first partner is http://www.educause.edu/. Any WVU members of educause may now use their MyID credentials to log in using the “Federated Login” section of InCommon’s login page.

Bishop says WVU is working quickly to establish partnerships with Coursera and Digital Measures next. Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/) is an educational technology company that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs), while Digital Measures (http://www.digitalmeasures.com/) is a leading faculty-activity reporting tool. The list of WVU partners will grow, but specific requests should be directed to sara.bishop@mail.wvu.edu.

To learn more about InCommon, visit http://www.incommonfederation.org/.

For the latest on new tools, outages and more, follow @wvuoit on Twitter, “like” WVU Information Technology on Facebook or visit www.it.wvu.edu.