Over the last decade a wide range of publish/subscribe (pub/sub) systems have come out of the research community. However, there is little consensus on a common pub/sub API, which would facilitate innovation, encourage application building, and simplify the evaluation of existing prototypes. Industry pub/sub standards tend to be overly complex, technology-centric, and hard to extend, thus limiting their applicability in research systems. In this paper we propose a common API for pub/sub that is tailored towards research requirements. The API supports three levels of compliance (with optional extensions): the lowest level specifies abstract operations without prescribing an implementation or data model; medium compliance describes interactions using a light-weight XML-RPC mechanism; finally, the highest level of compliance enforces an XML-RPC data model, enabling systems to understand each other's event and subscription semantics. We show that, by following this flexible approach with emphasis on extensibility, our API can be supported by many prototype systems with little effort.