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Network Working Group A. Weinrib Request for Comments: 2014 Intel Corporation BCP: 8 J. Postel Category: Best Current Practice ISI

                                                         October 1996
           IRTF Research Group Guidelines and Procedures

Status of this Memo

 This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
 Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
 improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


 The Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) has responsibility for
 organizing groups to investigate research topics related to the
 Internet protocols, applications, and technology. IRTF activities are
 organized into Research Groups.  This document describes the
 guidelines and procedures for formation and operation of IRTF
 Research Groups.  It describes the relationship between IRTF
 participants, Research Groups, the Internet Research Steering Group
 (IRSG) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).  The basic duties
 of IRTF participants, including the IRTF Chair, Research Group Chairs
 and IRSG members are defined.


 This document defines guidelines and procedures for Internet Research
 Task Force (IRTF) Research Groups.  The IRTF focuses on longer term
 research issues related to the Internet while the parallel
 organization, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), focuses on
 the shorter term issues of engineering and standards making.
 The Internet is a loosely-organized international collaboration of
 autonomous, interconnected networks; it supports host-to-host
 communication through voluntary adherence to open protocols and
 procedures defined by Internet Standards, a collection of which are
 commonly known as "the TCP/IP protocol suite".  Development and
 review of potential Internet Standards from all sources is conducted
 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).  The Internet
 Standards Process is defined in [1].

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 1] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

 The IRTF is a composed of a number of focused, long-term, small
 Research Groups.  These groups work on topics related to Internet
 protocols, applications, architecture and technology. Research Groups
 are expected to have the stable long term membership needed to
 promote the development of research collaboration and teamwork in
 exploring research issues.  Participation is by individual
 contributors, rather than by representatives of organizations.
 The IRTF is managed by the IRTF Chair in consultation with the
 Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG).  The IRSG membership
 includes the IRTF Chair, the chairs of the various Research Group and
 possibly other individuals ("members at large") from the research
 The IRTF Chair is appointed by the IAB, the Research Group chairs are
 appointed as part of the formation of Research Groups (as detailed
 below) and the IRSG members at large are chosen by the IRTF Chair in
 consultation with the rest of the IRSG and on approval by the IAB.
 In addition to managing the Research Groups, the IRSG may from time
 to time hold topical workshops focusing on research areas of
 importance to the evolution of the Internet, or more general
 workshops to, for example, discuss research priorities from an
 Internet perspective.
 This document defines procedures and guidelines for formation and
 operation of Research Groups in the IRTF.  The duties of the IRTF
 Chair, the Research Group Chairs and IRSG members are also described.
 Except for members at large of the IRSG, there is no general
 participation in the IRTF, only participation in a specific Research
 The document uses: "shall", "will", "must" and "is required" where it
 describes steps in the process that are essential, and uses:
 "suggested", "should" and "may" where guidelines are described that
 are not essential, but are strongly recommended to help smooth
 Research Group operation.  The terms "they", "them" and "their" are
 used in this document as third-person singular pronouns.

1.1. IRTF approach

 The reader is encouraged to study The Internet Standards Process [1]
 to gain a complete understanding of the philosophy, procedures and
 guidelines of the IETF and its approach to standards making.
 The IRTF does not set standards, and thus has somewhat different and
 complementary philosophy and procedures.  In particular, an IRTF
 Research Group is expected to be long-lived, producing a sequence of

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 2] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

 "products" over time.  The products of a Research Group are research
 results that may be disseminated by publication in scholarly journals
 and conferences, as white papers for the community, as Informational
 RFCs, and so on.  In addition, it is expected that technologies
 developed in a Research Group will be brought to the IETF as input to
 IETF Working Group(s) for possible standardization.   However,
 Research Group input carries no more weight than other community
 input, and goes through the same standards setting process as any
 other proposal.
 IRTF Research Groups are formed to encourage research in areas of
 importance to the evolution of the Internet.  Clearly, anyone may
 conduct such research, whether or not they are members of a Research
 Group.  The expectation is that by sponsoring Research Groups, the
 IRTF can foster cross-organizational collaboration, help to create
 "critical mass" in important research areas, and add to the
 visibility and impact of the work.
 IRTF Research Groups may have open or closed memberships.  Limited
 membership may be advantageous to the formation of the long term
 working relationships that are critical to successful collaborative
 research.  However, limited membership must be used with care and
 sensitivity to avoid unnecessary fragmentation of the work of the
 research community. Allowing limited membership is in stark contrast
 to IETF Working Groups, which are always open; this contrast reflects
 the different goals and environments of the two organizations-
 research vs. standards setting.
 To ameliorate the effects of closed membership, all Research Groups
 are required to regularly report progress to the community, and are
 encouraged to hold occasional open meetings (most likely co-located
 with IETF meetings). In addition, the IRTF may host open plenaries at
 regular IETF meetings during which research results of interest to
 the community are presented.  Finally, multiple Research Groups
 working in the same general area may be formed if appropriate.
 Even more than the IETF, the work of the IRSG is expected to be
 marked by informality.  The goal is to encourage and foster valuable
 research, not to add burdensome bureaucracy to the endeavor.

1.2. Acknowledgments

 This document is based on the March 1994 RFC "IETF Working Group
 Guidelines and Procedures" by E. Huizer and D. Crocker [2].

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 3] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996


 Research Groups are the activity centers in the IRTF.  A Research
 Group is typically created to address a research area related to
 Internet protocols, applications, architecture or technology area.
 Research Groups have the stable long term membership needed to
 promote the development of research collaboration and teamwork in
 exploring research issues.  Participation is by individual
 contributors, rather than by representatives of organizations.
 A Research Group may be established at the initiative of an
 individual or group of individuals.  Anyone interested in creating an
 IRTF Research Group must submit a charter for the proposed group to
 the IRTF Chair along with a list of proposed founding members.  The
 charter will be reviewed by the IRSG and then forwarded to the IAB
 for approval.
 If approved, the charter is placed on the IRTF Web site, and
 published in the Internet Monthly Report (IMR).

2.1. Criteria for formation

 In determining whether it is appropriate to create a Research Group,
 the IRTF Chair, the IRSG and the IAB will consider several issues:
  1. Is the research area that the Research Group plans to address

clear and relevant for the Internet community?

  1. Will the formation of the Research Group foster work that would

not be done otherwise. For instance, membership drawn from more

    than a single institution, more than a single country, and so on,
    is to be encouraged.
  1. Do the Research Group's activities overlap with those of another

Research Group? If so, it may still be appropriate to create the

    Research Group, but this question must be considered carefully
    since subdividing efforts often dilutes the available technical

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 4] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

  1. Is there sufficient interest and expertise in the Research Group's

topic with at least several people willing to expend the effort

    that is likely to produce significant results over time?  Research
    Groups require considerable effort, including management of the
    Research Group process, editing of Research Group documents, and
    contribution to the document text.  IRTF experience suggests that
    these roles typically cannot all be handled by one person; at
    least four or five active participants are typically required.  To
    help in this determination, a proposal to create a Research Group
    should include a list of potential charter members.
 The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) will also review the charter of
 the proposed Research Group to determine the relationship of the
 proposed work to the overall architecture of the Internet Protocol

2.2. Charter

 A charter is a contract between a Research Group and the IRTF to
 conduct research in the designated area. Charters may be renegotiated
 periodically to reflect changes to the current status, organization
 or goals of the Research Group.
 The formation of a Research Group requires a charter which is
 initially negotiated between a prospective Research Group Chair and
 the IRTF Chair.  When the prospective Chair and the IRTF Chair are
 satisfied with the charter form and content, it becomes the basis for
 forming a Research Group.
 A IRTF Research Group charter consists of five sections:
 1.  Research Group Name
    A Research Group name should be reasonably descriptive or
    identifiable.  Additionally, the group shall define an acronym
    (maximum 8 printable ASCII characters) to reference the group in
    the IRTF directories, mailing lists, and general documents.  The
    name and acronym must not conflict with any IETF names and
 2.  Chair(s)
    The Research Group may have one or two Chair(s) to perform the
    administrative functions of the group. The email address(es) of
    the Chair(s) shall be included.

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 5] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

 3.  Mailing list(s)
    Each Research Group shall have an address (possibly the Chair's)
    for members of the Internet community to send queries regarding
    the Research Group.    For instance, for requests to join the
    A Research Group, whether limited membership or open, will have an
    "interest" Internet mailing list open to all interested parties.
    This list is used for an open discussion of the issues and
    announcements of results as they become available.  Included
    should be the address to which an interested party sends a
    subscription request for the interest list and the procedures to
    follow when subscribing, and the location of the interest mailing
    list archive.
    It is expected that a Research Group may also have a mailing list
    limited to the regular meeting participants on which substantial
    part of the work of a Research Group is likely to be conducted via
 4.  Membership Policy
    The Charter must define the membership policy (whether open or
    limited), and the procedure to apply for membership in the group.
    While limited membership is permitted, it is in no way encouraged
    or required.
 5.  Description of Research Group
    The focus and intent of the group shall be set forth briefly. By
    reading this section alone, an individual should be able to decide
    whether this group is relevant to their own work.  The first
    paragraph must give a brief summary of the research area, basis,
    goal(s) and approach(es) planned for the Research Group.  This
    paragraph will frequently be used as an overview of the Research
    Group's effort.
    To facilitate evaluation of the intended work and to provide on-
    going guidance to the Research Group, the charter shall describe
    the proposed research and shall discuss objectives and expected
    impact with respect to the Internet Architecture.


 Research Groups are autonomous and each determines most of the
 details of its own operation with respect to session participation,
 reaching closure, norms of behavior, etc.  Since the products are

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 6] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

 research results, not Internet standards, consensus of the group is
 not required.  Rather, the measure of success is the quality and
 impact of the research results.
 A number of procedural questions and issues will arise over time, and
 it is the function of the Research Group Chair to manage the group
 process, keeping in mind that the overall purpose of the group is to
 make progress towards realizing the Research Group's goals and
 There are few hard and fast rules on organizing or conducting
 Research Group activities, but a set of guidelines and practices have
 evolved over time that have proven successful. These are listed here,
 with actual choices typically determined by the Research Group
 members and the Chair.

3.1. Meeting planning

 For coordinated, structured Research Group interactions, the Chair
 must publish to the group mailing list a draft agenda well in advance
 of the actual meeting. The agenda needs to contain at least:
  1. The items for discussion;
  1. The estimated time necessary per item; and
  1. A clear indication of what documents the participants will

need to read before the meeting in order to be well

 A Research Group will conduct much of its business via its electronic
 mail distribution list(s).  It is also likely to meet periodically to
 accomplish those things that are better achieved in more interactive
 meetings, such as brainstorming, heated altercations, etc.  Meetings
 may be scheduled as telephone conference, video teleconference, or
 face-to-face (physical) meetings.
 It is strongly encouraged that all Research Group meetings be
 recorded in written minutes, to keep informed members who were not
 present and the community at large and to document the proceedings
 for present and future members.  These minutes should include the
 agenda for the meeting, an account of the high points of the
 discussion, and a list of attendees.  Unless the Research Group chair
 decides otherwise, the minutes should be sent to the interest group
 and made available through the IRTF Web and ftp sites.

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 7] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

3.2. Meeting venue

 Each Research Group will determine the balance of email and face-to-
 face meetings that is appropriate for making progress on its goals.
 Electronic mail permits the easiest and most affordable
 participation; face-to-face meetings often permit better focus, more
 productive debate and enhanced working relationships.
 Face-to-face meetings are encouraged to be held co-located with the
 regular IETF meetings to minimize travel, since IRTF members are
 often also active in the IETF and to encourage the cross-
 fertilization that occurs during hallway and after-hours
 interactions.  Furthermore, as described above, even limited-
 membership Research Groups are encouraged to hold occasional open
 meetings; an IETF meeting would serve as an ideal venue for such an

3.3. Meeting management

 The challenge to managing Research Group meetings is to balance the
 need for consideration of the various issues, opinions and approaches
 against the need to allow forward progress.  The Research Group, as a
 whole, has the final responsibility for striking this balance.


 If, at some point, it becomes evident that a Research Group is not
 making progress in the research areas defined in its charter, or
 fails to regularly report the results of its research to the
 community, the IRTF Chair can, in consultation with Group, either:
    1.   Require that the group recharter to refocus on a different
    set of problems,
    2.   Request that the group choose new Chair(s), or
    3.   Disband the group.
 If the Research Group disagrees with the IRTF Chair's choice, it may
 appeal to the IAB.


 Research Groups require considerable care and feeding.  In addition
 to general participation, successful  Research Groups benefit from
 the efforts of participants filling specific functional roles.

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 8] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

5.1. IRTF Chair

 The IRTF Chair is responsible for ensuring that  Research Groups
 produce coherent, coordinated, architecturally consistent and timely
 output as a contribution to the overall evolution of the Internet
 architecture.  In addition to the detailed tasks related to  Research
 Groups outlined below, the IRTF Chair may also from time to time
 arrange for topical workshops attended by the IRSG and perhaps other
 experts in the field.
    The IRTF Chair monitors the range of activities.  This may include
    encouraging the formation of Research Groups directly, rather than
    waiting for proposals from IRTF participants.
 Coordination of Research Groups
    The IRTF Chair coordinates the work done by the various Research
    The IRTF Chair reports on IRTF progress to the to the IAB and the
    wider Internet community (including via the IMR).
 Progress tracking
    The IRTF Chair tracks and manages the progress of the various
    Research Groups with the aid of a regular status report on
    documents and accomplishments from the Research Group Chairs. The
    resulting reports are made available to the community at large at
    regular intervals.

5.2. IRSG Member

 Members of the IRSG are responsible for advising the IRTF Chair on
 the chartering of new Research Groups and other matters relating to
 the smooth operation of the IRTF.  In addition, most IRSG members are
 also Research Group chairs.

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 9] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

5.3. Research Group Chair

 The Research Group Chair is concerned with making forward progress in
 the areas under investigation, and has wide discretion in the conduct
 of Research Group business.  The Chair must ensure that a number of
 tasks are performed, either directly or by others assigned to the
 tasks.  This encompasses at the very least the following:
 Ensuring the Research Group process and content management
    The Chair has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that a Research
    Group achieves forward progress.  For some  Research Groups, this
    can be accomplished by having the Chair perform all management-
    related activities.  In other  Research Groups -- particularly
    those with large or divisive participation -- it is helpful to
    allocate process and/or secretarial functions to other
    participants.  Process management pertains strictly to the style
    of Research Group interaction and not to its content.  The
    secretarial function encompasses preparation of minutes, and
    possibly editing of group-authored  documents.
 Moderate the Research Group email list
    The Chair should attempt to ensure that the discussions on this
    list are relevant and that not devolve to "flame" attacks or rat-
    hole into technical trivia.  The Chair should make sure that
    discussions on the list are summarized and that the outcome is
    well documented (to avoid repetition).
 Organize, prepare and chair face-to-face and on-line formal meetings
    The Chair should plan and announce meetings well in advance.  (See
    section on Meeting Planning for procedures.)
 Communicate results of meetings
    The Chair and/or Secretary must ensure that minutes of a meeting
    are taken.

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 10] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

 Distribute the work
    It is expected that all Research Group participants will actively
    contribute to the work of the group. Research Group membership is
    expected to be a long term commitment by a set of motivated
    members of the research community.  Of course, at any given time
    more of the work is likely to be done by a few participants with
    particular interests, set of skills and ideas. It is the task of
    the Chair to motivate enough experts to allow for a fair
    distribution of the workload.
 Document development
    Research Groups produce documents and documents need authors.
    However, authorship of papers related to the work of a Research
    Group is one of the primary reasons that researchers become
    members, so finding motivated authors should not be a problem.
    It is up to the Research Group to decide the authorship of papers
    resulting from Research Group activities.  In particular,
    authorship by the entire group is not required.
 Document publication
    The Chair and/or Secretary will work with the RFC Editor to ensure
    documents to be published as RFCs conform with RFC publication
    requirements and to coordinate any editorial changes suggested by
    the RFC Editor.

5.4. Research Group Editor/Secretary

 Taking minutes and editing jointly-authored Research Group documents
 often is performed by a specifically-designated participant or set of


6.1. Meeting documents

 All relevant documents for a meeting (including the final agenda)
 should be published to the group mailing list and available at least
 two weeks before a meeting starts.

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 11] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996

 It is strongly suggested that the Research Group Chair make sure that
 an anonymous FTP directory or Web site be available for the upcoming
 meeting.  All relevant documents (including the final agenda and the
 minutes of the last meeting) should be placed in this directory.
 This has the advantage that all participants can retrieve all files
 in this directory and thus make sure they have all relevant
 documents. Also, it will be helpful to provide electronic mail-based
 retrieval for those documents.

6.2. Request For Comments (RFC)

 The work of an IRTF Research Group usually results in publication of
 research papers and other documents, as well as documents as part of
 the Informational or Experimental Request For Comments (RFCs) series
 [1].  This series is the archival publication record for the Internet
 community.  A document can be written by an individual in a Research
 Group, by a group as a whole with a designated Editor, or by others
 not involved with the IRTF.  The designated author(s) need not
 include the group Chair(s).
 NOTE: The RFC series is a publication mechanism only and publication
 does not determine the status of a document.  Status is determined
 through separate, explicit status labels.  In other words, the reader
 is reminded that all Internet Standards are published as RFCs, but
 NOT all RFCs specify standards.
 The RFC's authors are expected to work with the RFC Editor to meet
 all formatting, review and other requirements that the Editor may
 impose. Usually, in case of a submission intended as an Informational
 or Experimental RFC minimal review is necessary, although publication
 in the Experimental track generally requires IESG review.  However,
 in all cases initial publication as an Internet Draft is preferred.
 If the Research Group or the RFC Editor thinks that an extensive
 review is appropriate, the IRTF Chair may be asked to conduct one.
 This review may either be done by the IRTF Chair, the IRSG, or an
 independent reviewer selected by the IRTF Chair.  Occasionally,
 review by the IETF or IESG may be appropriate.

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 12] RFC 2014 IRTF Research Group Guidelines October 1996


 Security issues are not discussed in this memo.


 [1] Internet Architecture Board and Internet Engineering Steering
     Group, "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 2", RFC 1602,
     IAB, IESG, March 1994.  Soon to be replaced by "The Internet
     Standards Process -- Revision 3", Work in Progress.
 [2] Huizer, E. and D. Crocker, "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
     Procedures", RFC 1603, March 1994.


 Abel Weinrib
 Intel Corporation, MS JF2-74
 2111 NE 25th Ave.
 Hillsboro, OR 97124
 Phone:  503-264-8972
 Jon Postel
 USC - ISI, Suite 1001
 4676 Admiralty Way
 Marina del Rey, CA  90292-6695
 Phone: 310-822-1511

Weinrib & Postel Best Current Practice [Page 13]

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