Assigning Unique Identifiers (UID) for All Users

This article gives an overview and answers frequently asked questions about the new unique identifier requirement and explains how to assign unique identifiers to users.

Coming soon to Faculty Activity Reporting (Faculty180) and Lifecycle Management: The UID is available today in Faculty Search and Review, Promotion, & Tenure for clients who opt-in. UID is coming soon to Faculty Activity Reporting (Faculty180) and Lifecycle Management.

Please see the following article to access the spreadsheet and instructions on how to Add Users in Bulk

What is the unique identifier feature?

Interfolio now has a dedicated data field intended to capture a consistent, unique identifier value for every user in all Interfolio Faculty Information System modules, including Faculty Search, Lifecycle Management, and Review, Promotion & Tenure. 

Rather than depending upon email addresses, or any Interfolio-generated IDs*, this field is meant to reflect whatever permanent, unique identifier your institution already uses to keep track of each individual employee.

*Note: If you use Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting (Faculty180), it is possible that you are already using this institutional identifier via the Faculty ID or Login ID fields in that module. If so, that’s great! We will just need to get it populated in this additional field as well. 

When was it introduced?

Technically, the data field that we are using to track this unique identifier ("Institution User ID") previously existed and was used by some institutions for user provisioning via API or SFTP.

However, as of July, 2021, we have made available a new product update that leverages this field in a new way, which will be of significant benefit to all Interfolio client institutions once fully adopted.

Because we recognize the significance of thoughtful change management, we are coordinating with each Interfolio institution to:

  1. Get this field properly populated for all existing users at the institution
  2. Go live with the new product update (making unique ID required for all users at the institution) at a mutually agreed-upon time

When this product update is toggled on for any given institution (in technical terms, any tenant), this field will become a required step in all user creation actions in that tenant. That includes:

  • Adding individual users via the user interface (e.g. users will see a new required field in the "Add User" experience)
  • User provisioning via SFTP
  • User provisioning via API
Why is this changing?

There are two primary reasons why we are introducing the requirement of a unique ID for all Interfolio Faculty Information System users.

Reason #1 (Current and Future): User Login Support Related to Duplicate Users

The new unique ID requirement for all users will help you to avoid time and frustration expended on duplicate user issues going forward. This means eliminating a variety of situations like:

  • Helping someone get into their account, where the system seems not to recognize them
  • Helping someone locate info or materials they know they uploaded, but which they can't seem to find in their account
  • Distinguishing between multiple mentions of the same person in a user list
  • Reconciling email address variations, such as name@demo.edu vs name@mail.demo.edu vs name@medicine.demo.edu

If you can relate to administrative situations like these, then you understand the struggle we're trying to resolve for you. The path forward is adopting this unique ID.

Reason #2 (Future): Centralized User Management Across Interfolio Modules

As Interfolio continues to build more connections between our modules, it will be critical for the platform to have a reliable method to distinguish each real-life person who is using it.

In particular, having centralized user list management across all Interfolio modules is a major goal on the Interfolio product roadmap that will bring enormous benefits to all our clients. This new unique ID requirement is a critical step that brings us much closer to that valuable goal.

What action do I need to take?

Before we can activate the new unique ID requirement for your institution, we will need to get the field populated for all current users, which is easy, since the field already exists.

In order to get it populated in the system, we’ll need you to take two steps:

  1. Identify existing duplicate user accounts to us (using a current user list that we provide) and let us know, so that we can merge them together in advance
  2. Fill in the unique ID column for every user: Once we have merged all existing duplicate accounts in the system, we’ll send you back an updated user list, and we’ll need you to fill in the unique ID column for every user

To get you started, your Interfolio Account Manager will provide you with a complete, current user list that includes a column labeled “Institution User ID.”

Note: We are intentionally approaching this in batches of clients, to ensure realistic turnaround time expectations.  If you are interested in getting on the list soon, we would love to hear from you—please let your Interfolio Account Manager know.

Once your Account Manager has sent you your current list of users and the merge template spreadsheet, please follow the steps below.

Phase 1: Merge Duplicate Accounts

  1. Decide which value you will use for the unique ID. This may be employee ID, faculty ID, or another permanent value that distinguishes each individual outside of Interfolio.
  2. Review the current user list provided by Interfolio and identify any duplicate accounts. If you're using Microsoft Excel, you should be able to use the "Highlight Duplicates" feature as follows (also find Microsoft instructions here):
    • With the user list open in Excel, select all cells on the user list by clicking Edit > Select All (or press Ctrl+A/Command+A).
    • With all cells on the user list selected, click Home > Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cells Rules > Duplicate Values.
    • Make sure it's set to Format only unique or duplicate values, and choose the color that you want duplicates to appear.
    • Click OK, and all values that are duplicated should show up in that color.
  3. Mark duplicates. In the merge template spreadsheet provided by Interfolio, mark all those duplicate users for us to merge. Please see the first tab in that template (“Instructions”) for detailed instructions, and the second tab (“Merge List”) to track duplicates.
  4. Send the completed merge spreadsheet back as an email attachment to Interfolio Scholar Services (help@interfolio.com), and wait for Interfolio to reply with an updated list.

Phase 2: Provide Unique ID and User Type for All Users

  1. We send you an updated list: Once Interfolio has completed merging the existing duplicates, we will send you an updated and now more accurate user list!
  2. Fill in the column “Institution User ID”: In that updated user list, please fill in the column “Institution User ID” correctly for each user that has an institutional ID (please leave all other columns as they are)
  3. For any users that truly do not have an institutional ID (such as visiting research fellows or temporary employees), please change the column “User Type” to “External” and leave the column “Institution User ID” empty
  4. Send the updated spreadsheet as an email attachment to help@interfolio.com
    • In your email, please indicate that you would like to adopt the unique ID requirement.
    • From there, a member of the Interfolio Professional Services team will be in touch with you and will guide you through the process of populating this field and toggling the requirement on.
    • Optionally, include the time frame when you believe you would like it to go live. As noted below, we will do our best, and if we cannot guarantee the exact dates, we will work with you to find a date that is good for your institution.
  5. [If applicable] Update any API integration scripts you rely upon for user provisioning to accommodate this new field. To assist, we have actually updated the Interfolio API Cookbook with new standard code.
  6. Watch for communication from Interfolio Professional Services to decide the date when this requirement will go live for your institution. Your input is important to us here.
    • We are committed to working with your institution on change management, and making sure your top Interfolio administrators are informed and able to communicate this change to affected administrators.
    • Our team will be managing our capacity throughout the year. If your exact dates requested are not available, we will work with you to choose a realistic date that does work for your institution.
  7. Include unique identifier for all users: Once this requirement has gone live for your institution] Include this unique identifier for all users when sending lists for user provisioning going forward
FAQ: Unique identifier (UID) requirement

What if we already use the unique ID field as an integration API client?

If your organization is already using the API to provision users, you will need you to update the API script to update the UID field for each user being added. The unique value should be the same as if you added the user manually.

Previously, we have required institutions using Pipefitter for SFTP user provisioning in Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure and Interfolio Faculty Search to populate the "institution_user_id" field. Institutions using Pipefitter will already have the unique ID field populated.

We have also provided the ability to populate  the "institution_user_id" field via the account-api, and most institutions using account-api (IAM-API) to provision users via the API should also have the  "institution_user_id" field populated.

Also, some institutions may have populated the "institution_user_id" field by uploading a CSV file through their Account Manager if the institution has populated the relevant column in the user list CSV.

If your institution uses the UID field, the values will be visible via the user list report for your institution or in a given user's change log.

Q: What if we use a sensitive ID at our school, such as Social Security numbers?

Answer: We suggest  creating a unique, non-reversible hash of the unique identifier so that it's safe to share.

Q: What if we already use this ID value in the "Faculty ID" or "Login ID" fields in the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module?

Answer: We will still need users to populate the unique ID field, even if the institution already uses this ID value in the "Faculty ID" or "Login ID" fields of the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module.

Q: Will all users require a unique ID once the feature is turned on?

Answer: Yes. Wherever a user is added in the UI, the unique ID value will be a required field. This will also be a required value when provisioning users via the API.

Q: How will integration clients be impacted?

Answer: Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure and Interfolio Faculty Search clients who provision via API integration will need to redirect their API calls for user creation to the v2 endpoints, and update their scripts to include the unique ID.

Q: Can a user's unique ID be edited after entry?

Answer: With the initial release, you cannot edit a unique ID value yourself. You will need to contact Interfolio, and we will need to work with our engineering team to make a change.

Q: Does this impact the SSO for an account?

Answer: No -  there are no changes to SSO related to this work. However, clients should use the same values for UID and SSO ID since both should be unique and stable.

Q: Will the unique ID requirement impact Dossier records?

Answer: No, the unique ID value is associated with the institutional profile of the user and not the Dossier profile.

Q: What if we don't have a value we can use for the unique ID?

 Answer: We bet you do. All institutions should have a unique identifier value. Please consult your internal technology team if you do not know which value to use.

 Answer: The unique ID should be a unique and stable identifier. Clients with SSO can use the same value for both the unique ID and SSO ID.

Q: What if there are duplicate users in the same tenant that need to be merged?

 Answer: When possible, all users should be merged prior to implementing the UID.

Please see this Account Merge Template:

Q: What users can view and edit the unique ID of a user?

 Answer:  Any users that currently have the ability to create and edit users (Administrators) can view the UID value of a user. The UID value is established at user creation and cannot be edited after.

Q: What do I do for external users (e.g. in Interfolio Review, Promotion & Tenure)?

 Answer: External users will also require a unique ID on initial release. If clients do not have a value in mind, we recommend using the email address of the external user as their unique ID.

Q: How are support accounts treated in Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting (Faculty180)?

Answer: Support accounts will also require a unique ID.

Merging Accounts

Follow the instructions below for merging accounts.

 

Request your complete user list from Interfolio

If you have not done so already, please request your complete user list from Interfolio, via your Account Manager or help@interfolio.com

Review your user list for duplicate users

A duplicate user is often identified by the same email address appearing more than once, or a vanity email for the same user (user@school.edu and user@business.school.edu)

Copy and paste duplicate users to "Merge List" tab

When you have identified a duplicate user, copy and paste the required information into the "Merge List" tab. Required information includes the PID, First Name, Last Name, Email, and the product(s) to which the user is subscribed.

Make sure each user appears on one row, with the information for the "account to keep" listed in the "Primary User Account" section

Each user should appear on one row, with the information for the "account to keep" listed in the "Primary User Account" section. Space is provided for up to three duplicate accounts - your institution may not need that many, or you may need to copy the columns and create additional lists

Interfolio will merge all accounts into the "Primary User Account" profile

Interfolio will merge all accounts into the "Primary User Account" profile, so the only email and PID that will remain in both our master user list and in your modules will be the one listed under the "Primary User Account" section. In the example provided on the next tab, the account with the "arts" email will be merged with the account with the primary institutional email.

Email this spreadsheet to Interfolio

When you have completed the list of accounts to merge, please email this spreadsheet to Interfolio (help@interfolio.com) and request the account merges be completed. The number of merges will determine how long it takes Interfolio to complete this work as it is a manual process.

Be sure that the UID value is supplied for the "Primary User Account" in your UID list

For clients that are completing this merge work in preparation for adding a UniqueID (UID) value to user accounts, please be sure that the UID value is supplied for the "Primary User Account" in your UID list.

Please note: There is no data lost during an account merge (for the user or for the institution), but it can momentary disrupt access to the module based on how the user has been logging in.