Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) L. Eggert
Internet-Draft NetApp
Obsoletes: 2014 (if approved) May 18, 2016
Intended status: Informational
Expires: November 19, 2016

IRTF Research Group Guidelines and Procedures


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 obsoletes RFC2014.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

This Internet-Draft will expire on November 19, 2016.

Copyright Notice

Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the document authors. All rights reserved.

This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents ( in effect on the date of publication of this document. Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect to this document.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

This document defines guidelines and procedures for Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Research Groups. It obsoletes [RFC2014], which originally documented them. The IRTF focuses on longer term research issues related to the Internet, while its parallel organization, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), focuses on 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 [RFC2026].

The IRTF is 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 Groups and possibly other individuals ("members at large") from the research community.

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 the 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 Group.

[RFC4440] provides additional important background information that the readers of this document should familiarize themselves with. [RFC7418] provides an introduction to the IRTF for IETF participants, focusing on the differences between the two organizations.

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

1.1. IRTF Approach

The reader is encouraged to study The Internet Standards Process [RFC2026] 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 (often abbreviated as "RG") 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 any concrete technologies developed in a Research Group will be brought to the IETF as input to IETF Working Group(s) or in the form of birds-of-a-feather (BoF) sessions 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. IRTF and Intellectual Property Rights

The IRTF follows the IETF Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) disclosure rules, as described in Section 3.2 of [RFC5743]. This is a summary of these rules as they relate to IRTF research group discussions, mailing lists and Internet Drafts:

Participants may file an IPR disclosure here:

See [RFC3979] for definitions of "IPR" and "contribution" and for the detailed rules (substituting "IRTF" for "IETF").

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 SHALL be reviewed by the IRSG and then forwarded to the IAB for approval.

If approved, the charter is placed on the IRTF Web site.

2.1. Criteria for Formation

In determining whether it is appropriate to create a Research Group, the IRTF Chair, the IRSG and the IAB SHALL consider several issues:

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) SHALL 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 Suite.

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

  2. Chair(s)

  3. Mailing list(s)

  4. Membership Policy

  5. Description of Research Group

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 Chairs 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 objectives.

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 a Chair.

3.1. Meeting Planning

For coordinated, structured Research Group interactions, a 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:

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 REQUIRED 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 list and made available through other channels, e.g., the IETF proceedings web pages.

3.2. Meeting Venue

Each Research Group SHALL 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 event.

Face-to-face meetings that are collocated with academic conferences or workshops have also worked well for some Research Groups, particularly those with substantial academic participation. Such groups are still encouraged to occasionally collocate a meeting with an IETF meeting, in order to facilitate the cross-fertilization between research and engineering that the IRTF is chartered to stimulate.

3.3. Meeting Management

The challenge of 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.


Coordination of Research Groups


Progress tracking

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. They are also responsible for helping review documents that are being published on the IRTF Stream [RFC5743]. In addition, most IRSG members are also Research Group chairs.

5.3. Research Group Chair

A 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. A 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

Moderate the Research Group email list

Organize, prepare and chair face-to-face and on-line formal meetings

Communicate results of meetings

Distribute the work

Document development

Document publication

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 participants appointed by an RG Chair and approval from the IETF Chair.

6. Research Group Documents

6.1. Meeting Documents

All relevant documents for a meeting (including the final agenda) SHOULD be published and be made available as Internet Drafts at least two weeks before a meeting starts. If a meeting is collocated with an IETF meeting, the agenda and document submission deadlines communicated for that IETF meeting take precedence.

It is strongly RECOMMENDED that a Research Group Chair make sure that all meeting materials are made available via the IETF Datatracker's proceedings system, which also handles "interim" meetings not collocated with IETF meetings. All relevant documents (including the final agenda and the minutes of the meeting) SHOULD be placed there. This has the advantage that all participants can retrieve all files and thus make sure they have all relevant 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 Informational or Experimental Request For Comments (RFCs). The RFC series is the archival publication record for the Internet community. Since 2009, IRTF RFCs have been published on a separate IRTF Document Stream [RFC5743]. A document can be written by individuals in a Research Group, by the 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). Initial publication as an Internet Draft is preferred, if only to facilitate review, before asking for RFC publication.

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 RFC Editor, IAB or IESG may impose. [RFC5743] describes the approach that Research Groups follow when they want to publish RFCs on the IRTF Stream. In summary, after the group has decided that a given document is ready, a Chair initiates an IRSG Review. After approval by the IRSG, the IESG reviews the document for conflicts with the Internet Standards Process as described in [RFC5742]. After the IESG review concludes, the document undergoes final publication preparation at the RFC Editor.

7. IANA Considerations

This document has no IANA considerations.

8. Security Considerations

Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

9. Acknowledgments

This document is based on the October 1996 RFC "IRTF Research Group Guidelines and Procedures" by A. Weinrib [RFC2014], which in turn was based on the March 1994 RFC "IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures" by E. Huizer and D. Crocker [RFC1603].

Lars Eggert has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program 2014-2018 under grant agreement No. 644866. This document reflects only the authors' views and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

10. References

10.1. Normative References

[RFC2014] Weinrib, A. and J. Postel, "IRTF Research Group Guidelines and Procedures", BCP 8, RFC 2014, DOI 10.17487/RFC2014, October 1996.
[RFC2026] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, DOI 10.17487/RFC2026, October 1996.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.
[RFC3979] Bradner, S., "Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology", BCP 79, RFC 3979, DOI 10.17487/RFC3979, March 2005.
[RFC5742] Alvestrand, H. and R. Housley, "IESG Procedures for Handling of Independent and IRTF Stream Submissions", BCP 92, RFC 5742, DOI 10.17487/RFC5742, December 2009.

10.2. Informative References

, "
[RFC1603] Huizer, E. and D. Crocker, "IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures", RFC 1603, DOI 10.17487/RFC1603, March 1994.
[RFC4440] Floyd, S., Paxson, V., Falk, A. and IAB, "IAB Thoughts on the Role of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)", RFC 4440, DOI 10.17487/RFC4440, March 2006.
[RFC5743] Falk, A., "Definition of an Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Document Stream", RFC 5743, DOI 10.17487/RFC5743, December 2009.
[RFC6322] Hoffman, P., "Datatracker States and Annotations for the IAB, IRTF, and Independent Submission Streams", RFC 6322, DOI 10.17487/RFC6322, July 2011.
[RFC7418] Dawkins, S., An IRTF Primer for IETF Participants", RFC 7418, DOI 10.17487/RFC7418, December 2014.

Appendix A. Changes from RFC2014

Rev Changes
-03 Changed the stream to IRTF and status to Informational, per discussion with the IAB at the Cambridge, MA retreat. Added funding acknowledgment.
-02 Added text about and reference to [RFC7418]. Add pointer to IRTF RFC process wiki. More wordsmithing.
-01 Use [RFC2119] terms instead of local definitions. Fix idnits (missing IANA section, say that we obsolete [RFC2014], etc.) Update obsoleted references. Update acknowledgments. Remove text about the Internet Monthly Report (IMR). Remove text that says that a RG should have 4-5 members, and that proposed charters should include the names of such "charter members". Add suggestion that RG acronyms end in "RG". Change recommendation that RGs have 1-2 chairs to instead say "a small number", to allow cases where more than two chairs are useful. Update text on IRTF RFC Stream publication [RFC5742][RFC5743]. Add text on IRTF IPR policies. Add pointers and text to [RFC4440] and [RFC6322].
-00 Document contains the entire, unmodified contents of [RFC2014], except for (1) boilerplate and layout changes that are due to the conversion to xml2rfc and (2) changed author information. It is being submitted so that it will be easier to view diffs of the content changes that will be introduced in subsequent versions.

Author's Address

Lars Eggert NetApp Sonnenallee 1 Kirchheim, 85551 Germany Phone: +49 151 12055791 EMail: URI: