We are setting up a proxy server on our campus. How should it be configured to access the ICPSR website?

Key Points

Before we get into the details of proxy servers, we should clarify a few points:

  1. Access to ICPSR does not require proxy servers. We use your campus IP range to control access; when a user successfully logs in from on campus, his/her account is flagged to allow the user to download from off campus for the next six months. Furthermore, we provide institution-specific reporting tools, so that you don't need a proxy server to track usage.

  2. ICPSR is a consortium of dues-paying institutions, of which your institution is a member. This consortium of 700+ other institutions determines our priorities through a representative council elected by the member institutions. Supporting technical issues related to the wide variety of proxy servers can be resource-intensive because it is costly to manage the different applications and network configurations for so many institutions; thus Council has directed ICPSR to be selective in supporting proxy servers. Currently, ICPSR has elected to test EZProxy and adjust our site where possible to allow it to work correctly.

  3. When a proxy server is not set up correctly, it can result in the user being denied access to data. Furthermore, the user is often completely ignorant of the fact that s/he is accessing the site via a proxy server, which makes it very difficult for ICPSR to assist them.

  4. Even when configured correctly, proxy servers block third-party authentication like Google or Facebook. We have built a workaround, however, so that users can still use Google/Facebook to log in.

With that in mind, ICPSR would prefer you link directly to our site at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/, rather than through a proxy server, but we understand that some institutions have policies in place that require proxy servers.

Supported Software

There are a number of different proxy applications. To date, ICPSR has installed and tested its site with one:

EZProxy

Our site functions perfectly with EZProxy when the software is set up correctly. The only flaw is that users are unable to log in using their Google or Facebook account.

OpenID-like services function using a white list of trustworthy servers. I.e., when you use your Google ID on our site, it works because we have submitted information to Google and they now know to accept requests from www.icpsr.umich.edu. They have not been told to accept requests from www-0.proxy.yourschool.edu.icpsr.umich.edu, nor any of the variety of proxy addresses used by our 700+ member institutions.

We have modified the login page so that users can break out of the proxy environment and log in via Google or Facebook, or they can remain in the proxy environment and use their MyData account. It is not our intent to discourage users; it is our intent to give them choices.

Other Applications

We have received a few requests to test WAM - Web Access Management, which we will add to our project list and prioritize as resources become available. If you have other proxy applications that are widely used and you would like to see supported, please email web-support@icpsr.umich.edu with information.

Configuring Your Proxy Server

If you absolutely must use a proxy server, ICPSR is unable to provide technical support in configuring the proxy server beyond the information below:

General Information

To ensure that your students and faculty have access to all of ICPSR's resources through the website, the server should proxy to ICPSR's base URLs as follows:

  • http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/
  • https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/

In addition, please email the IP address of your proxy server to netmail@icpsr.umich.edu so that we can associate it with your institution.

EZProxy

The best source of information on EZProxy is the OCLC EZproxy support page. You can also look at the config.txt file that we used in testing, but we didn't need to do anything special when we configured EZProxy for our website.

How ICPSR Differs When Visited via a Proxy Server

Effective, July 16, 2013, we have modified our login page to display additional options when a user accesses our site via a proxy server. Normally, the login page looks like this:

screenshot of normal login screen

When a user accesses our site via a proxy server, the Google/Facebook options are hidden, and a pop-up appears that enables the user to continue via the proxy server (and log in using MyData), or access the site outside of the proxy server to enable the Google/Facebook options.

screenshot of login screen when accessed via a proxy server

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