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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                           August 19, 2014
Expires: February 20, 2015

              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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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Structure and resolution of DOIs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  DOIs for RFCs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   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  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     4.4.  Use of DOIs in RFCs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Appendix A.  Change Log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     A.1.  Changes from -01 to -02 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     A.2.  Changes from -00 to -01 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

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 associated with bibliographic 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 and
   use.  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.

   The benefits of DOIs apply equally to documents from all of the RFC
   submission streams, so all RFCs would get DOIs.

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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


   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.  Since the RFC Editor's series
   already have numbers, it would be straightforward to use mnemonic
   suffixes.  DOIs might use the familiar series names and numbers,
   e.g., rfc1149.  (DOIs are case-insensitive.)  DOIs are treated as
   opaque identifiers, so the RFC Editor could use some other naming
   scheme if it turned out to be advantageous to do so.  The reliable
   way to find the DOI for an RFC would be to look it up in the RFC

   Although the handle system has its own protocol described in
   [RFC3652], the usual way to look up a DOI is to use web lookup.  A
   proposed "doi:" URN was never widely implemented, so the standard way
   to look up a DOI is to use the public http proxy at
   http://dx.doi.org.  The sample DOI above could be looked up at:


   Whenever a publisher assigns a DOI, it provides the bibliographic
   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.  The document's
   metadata is typically uploaded to the registration agency in XML
   using a web API.

   Publishers have considerable flexibility as to what 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), and some STDs and BCPs consist of multiple
   documents, an appropriate URI would be that of the RFC Editor's info
   page that has the document's abstract and links to the document(s) in
   various formats.  Hence the URI above would be set to redirect to


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   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 RFC Editor, 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.

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.

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4.3.  Assigning DOIs to new RFCs

   As new RFCs are published, the publication process will add steps to
   collect and submit the bibliographic metadata to the registration
   agency.  This should be a largely or entirely automatic process,
   since it should be possible to extract the metadata mechanically
   either from a document's xml2rfc source, or from the existing
   catalogs of RFCs.

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
   possible.  The RFC production center might add missing DOIs when it's
   easy to do so, e.g., when the same reference with a DOI has appeared
   in a prior RFC, or a quick online search finds the DOI.  With a DOI
   field in the xml2rfc reference structure, DOIs in references from
   citation libraries would appear in the RFCs automatically once the
   DOIs are added to the libraries.

   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

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,

   [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

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   [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 -01 to -02

   Clarify submission process, multi-document DOIs.  Note all streams
   treated the same.  Remove unused reference.

A.2.  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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