Open Badge project boosts push for research credentials you can see

September 13, 2018

ANN ARBOR – A group of University of Michigan researchers is helping to build a system that uses visible tokens, or “badges,” to help safeguard the integrity and provenance of research data and the conclusions drawn from them.

Open Badge Researcher Credentials for Secure Access to Restricted and Sensitive Data,” funded by the National Science Foundation, has three main objectives:

  • Develop an open badge system for managing researcher credentials.
  • Articulate levels of data sensitivity and risk that indicate criteria for access.
  • Identify the right balance between openness and privacy for data users in a restricted data access system.

The project is being led by U-M researcher Margaret Levenstein, who is joined by co-PIs Libby Hemphill, Florian Schaub, and Andrea Thomer.

“ICPSR’s credentialing system is a great way to safeguard data, and the UMSI team is helping ensure we protect researchers as well,” Hemphill said. “The system will include researchers’ personal information, histories of data access, and alleged or proven misconduct, and we take a privacy-by-design approach to ensure that researchers’ identities are protected as well. This open badge system is safer than the status quo for both data and researchers.”

The Open Badge team is filling a need for transparent research credentials that, the project team says, “signal achievement, affiliation, authorization, or another trust relationship and are shareable across the web. They allow individuals to present their evolving credentials openly and to record their achievements and credentials publicly … The system provides verifiable, portable credentials for users to share with data providers when requesting access to restricted data.”

Levenstein noted that these efforts boost work already being done. “This project builds on the Sloan-supported work to launch a Researcher Passport to safeguard the research community’s access to and management of confidential data,” she said.


The Researcher Passport: Improving data access and confidentiality protection

Report details progress on new researcher credentialing system, including “Researcher Passport,” to debut in the fall

Contact: Dory Knight-Ingram

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