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Versions: (draft-levine-doi) 00 01 02 03 04 05 RFC 7669

Network Working Group                                          J. Levine
Internet-Draft                                      Taughannock Networks
Intended status: Informational                         February 10, 2014
Expires: August 14, 2014

              Assigning Digital Object Identifiers to RFCs


   The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a widely used system that
   assigns unique identifiers to digital documents that can be queried
   and managed in a consistent fashion.  We propose a method to assign
   DOIs to past and future RFCs.

Status of This Memo

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on August 14, 2014.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Structure and resolution of DOIs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  DOIs for RFCs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  The process of assigning DOIs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     4.1.  Getting a DOI prefix  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     4.2.  Retroactively assigning DOIs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     4.3.  Assigning DOIs to new RFCs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     4.4.  Use of DOIs in RFCs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   5.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Appendix A.  Change Log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     A.1.  Changes from -00 to -01 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5

1.  Introduction

   The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a widely used system that
   assigns unique identifiers to digital documents that can be queried
   and managed in a consistent fashion.  The structure of DOIs is
   defined by ISO 26324:2012 [ISO-DOI] and is implemented by a group of
   registration agencies coordinated by the International DOI

   Each DOI is accompanied by metadata about the object, including one
   or more URIs where the object can be found.  The DOI system also
   provides many features not relevant to RFCs, such as the ability to
   update the metadata after the DOI is assigned, and for organizations
   to maintain local caches of metadata, e.g., a university or corporate
   library that tracks its copies of purchased documents so subsequent
   users don't buy them again.

   The wide use of DOIs suggests that even though RFCs can be downloaded
   directly from the IETF for free, organizations that use DOIs can have
   trouble locating non-DOI documents.  DOIs with metadata that points
   to the existing free online RFCs would make RFCs easier to find.
   Some scholarly publishers accept DOIs as references in published
   documents, and some versions of bibtex can automatically retrieve the
   bibliographic data for a DOI and format it.  Hence DOIs would make
   RFCs easier to cite.

2.  Structure and resolution of DOIs

   DOIs are an application of the handle system defined by RFCs
   [RFC3650], [RFC3651], and [RFC3652].  A DOI for an RFC might be


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   The first part of a DOI is the number 10, which means a DOI within
   the handle system, a dot, and a unique number assigned to a
   publisher, in this example 123456.  This part is the DOI prefix.
   Following that is a slash and a text string assigned by the
   publisher, called the DOI suffix.  A reasonable way to assign DOIs
   would be to use the familiar series names and numbers, e.g., rfc1234,
   bcp100, or std11.  (DOIs are case-insensitive.)

   Although the handle system has its own protocol described in
   [RFC3652], the usual way to look up a DOI is to use web lookup.  CNRI
   provides a Firefox plugin that adds a "doi:" URI scheme.  Lacking
   that, one can use a public http proxy, usually http://dx.doi.org, so
   the sample DOI above could be looked up at:


   Whenever a publisher assigns a DOI, it provides the metadata for the
   object (henceforth called a document, since that what they are in
   this context) to its registration agency which then makes it
   available to clients that look up DOIs.  Publishers have considerable
   flexibility as to what actually resides at the URI(s) that a DOI
   refers to.  Sometimes it's the document itself, while for commercial
   publishers it's typically a page with the abstract and bibliographic
   information, and some way to buy the actual document.  Since some
   RFCs are in multiple formats (e.g., Postscript and text) an
   appropriate URI would be that of the RFC Editor's info page that has
   the RFC's abstract and links to the document in various formats.
   Hence the URI above would be set to redirect to


   More information on the structure and use of DOIs is in the DOI
   Handbook [DOI-HB].

3.  DOIs for RFCs

   Once the RFC series has DOIs assigned, it would be a good idea to
   include the DOI in the XML boilerplate of each RFC, which would both
   permit it to be displayed if a rendering engine wants to do that, and
   aid software that does things with DOIs.  Online databases and
   indexes that include RFCs would be updated to include the DOI, e.g.
   the ACM Digital Library.  (A practical advantage of this is that the
   DOI would link directly to the IETF, rather than perhaps to a copy of
   an RFC behind a paywall.)

   Since RFCs are immutable, existing RFCs still wouldn't mention their
   own DOIs within the RFC itself, but putting the DOIs into indexes
   would still provide value.

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4.  The process of assigning DOIs

   There are three phases to assigning DOIs to RFCs, getting a DOI
   prefix, retroactively assigning DOIs to existing documents, and
   updating the publication process to assign DOIs as new RFCs are

4.1.  Getting a DOI prefix

   There are ten registration agencies [DOI-RA] that assign DOI
   prefixes.  Most of them serve specialized audiences or limited
   geographic areas, but there are a few that handle scholarly and
   technical materials.  All registration agencies charge for DOIs to
   defray the cost of maintaining the metadata databases.  The prices
   are fairly low, on the order of $660/year for membership, 15 cents
   per document deposit fees for a bulk upload of the backfile (the
   existing RFCs), and $1/per document to deposit them as they are

4.2.  Retroactively assigning DOIs

   Other than paying the deposit fees, assigning DOIs to all of the
   existing RFCs is primarily a software problem.  We'd need tools to
   extract or create the metadata for all of the RFCs and submit it to
   the registration agency using the agency's online API.  Where we are
   aware of indexes and databases that include RFCs, we would try to get
   them to include the DOI.

4.3.  Assigning DOIs to new RFCs

   As new RFCs are published, the publication process will add steps to
   collect and submit the metadata to the registration agency.

4.4.  Use of DOIs in RFCs

   The DOI agency requests that documents that are assigned DOIs in turn
   include DOIs when possible when referring to other organizations'
   documents.  Hence it would be a good idea to add a DOI field to the
   xml2rfc reference entity, and request that authors provide DOIs when

   Since it is usually possible to retrieve the bibliographic
   information for a document from its DOI (see the discussion of bibtex
   above), it might also be worth adding this feature to xml2rfc, so a
   reference with only a DOI could be automatically fetched and

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5.  Informative References

   [DOI-HB]   International DOI Foundation, "DOI Handbook", April 2012,

   [DOI-RA]   International DOI Foundation, "DOI Registration Agencies",
              July 2013,

   [ISO-DOI]  International Organization for Standardization (ISO), "ISO
              26324:2012 Information and documentation -- Digital object
              identifier system", 2012,

   [RFC3044]  Rozenfeld, S., "Using The ISSN (International Serial
              Standard Number) as URN (Uniform Resource Names) within an
              ISSN-URN Namespace", RFC 3044, January 2001.

   [RFC3650]  Sun, S., Lannom, L., and B. Boesch, "Handle System
              Overview", RFC 3650, November 2003.

   [RFC3651]  Sun, S., Reilly, S., and L. Lannom, "Handle System
              Namespace and Service Definition", RFC 3651, November

   [RFC3652]  Sun, S., Reilly, S., Lannom, L., and J. Petrone, "Handle
              System Protocol (ver 2.1) Specification", RFC 3652,
              November 2003.

Appendix A.  Change Log

A.1.  Changes from -00 to -01

   DOI in the xml, not necessarily in the text

   Use of DOI in RFCs section.

Author's Address

   John Levine
   Taughannock Networks
   PO Box 727
   Trumansburg, NY  14886

   Phone: +1 831 480 2300
   Email: standards@taugh.com
   URI:   http://jl.ly

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