|Title||IRTF Research Group Guidelines and Procedures
|Author||A. Weinrib, J.
|Status:||BEST CURRENT PRACTICE
Network Working Group A. Weinrib
Request for Comments: 2014 Intel Corporation
BCP: 8 J. Postel
Category: Best Current Practice ISI
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 .
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
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 
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
"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
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.
This document is based on the March 1994 RFC "IETF Working Group
Guidelines and Procedures" by E. Huizer and D. Crocker .
2. RESEARCH GROUP FORMATION
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
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:
- Is the research area that the Research Group plans to address
clear and relevant for the Internet community?
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
3. RESEARCH GROUP OPERATION
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
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:
- The items for discussion;
- The estimated time necessary per item; and
- 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.
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.
4. RESEARCH GROUP TERMINATION
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.
5. STAFF ROLES
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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. RESEARCH GROUP DOCUMENTS
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.
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
. 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.
7. SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS
Security issues are not discussed in this memo.
 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.
 Huizer, E. and D. Crocker, "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
Procedures", RFC 1603, March 1994.
9. AUTHORS' ADDRESSES
Intel Corporation, MS JF2-74
2111 NE 25th Ave.
Hillsboro, OR 97124
USC - ISI, Suite 1001
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6695