Access Management Systems for Electronic Resources in U.K. Higher Education: a comparative evaluation
Thesis or dissertation
University of Central England, Birmingham
The aim of this dissertation is to identify and assess the current and proposed access management systems for electronic resources in the U.K. higher education sector and to identify the policy issues that arise from the implementation of those systems. A further aim is to identify a set of criteria by which access management systems may be evaluated. Access management systems for electronic resources have been in existence for some time, in the form of such approaches as IP address filtering and proxies. However, the services provided by Eduserv Athens, together with the advent of Shibboleth as the proposed national access management system, suggest that the topic is ripe for further study and evaluation. A mixed methodological approach was employed for this study, utilising a survey, backed up by interviews and qualitative analysis, to assess the various systems under review. Furthermore a set of criteria, first employed in 1998, was identified as a framework for analysis. The research findings indicated that those access management systems based on existing institutional accounts, rather than the issuing of additional logins, were closer to the ideal of a perfect access management solution. The research also identified the tensions between privacy and accountability as a major area for policy review. The framework for analysis performed well, although the weighting of detail within the various criteria was identified as an issue for further methodological study. Questions were also raised about the appropriate methodological tools by which the analysis framework could be applied.