Network Working Group                                       B. Carpenter
Internet-Draft                                         Univ. of Auckland
Intended status: Informational                             June 14, 2015
Expires: December 16, 2015

               What is an Author of an IETF Stream Draft?


   This draft suggests guidelines for assigning authorship in IETF
   stream Internet-Drafts.  It also discusses the related issues of
   acknowledgements, editors and contributors.

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 December 16, 2015.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2015 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.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction and Scope  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  General Issues of Authorship Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Contributors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   5.  Editors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  List of Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   7.  Revised or Replacement Documents  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   8.  Other Exceptions and Discussions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   9.  Intellectual Property Rights  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   10. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   11. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   12. Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   13. Change log  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   14. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8

1.  Introduction and Scope

   The question sometimes comes up of who should be listed as the
   author(s) of a draft, who should be listed as editors or
   contributors, and what acknowledgements are appropriate.  The
   guidelines below are aimed at Internet-Drafts in the IETF publication
   stream [RFC4844], [RFC5741].

   Any inconsistency with [RFC7221] is unintentional, and related issues
   are discussed in [I-D.crocker-rfc2418bis-wgguidelines].  The
   guidelines are intended to be compatible with the RFC Editor's style
   guide [RFC7322], with the RFC Editor's authorship policies
   interest/2015-May/008869.html> and with the IESG statement on
   Internet Draft Authorship <

   This draft has been written to aid discussion and is not intended to
   be published as an RFC.  It in no way, shape or form intends to
   change the IETF standards process and the related rules on
   intellectual property.  It could be used as input to revision of the
   Tao of the IETF or of other relevant IETF documents.

2.  General Issues of Authorship Ethics

   There are some quite general aspects of the ethics of professional
   authorship of academic or technical documents that naturally apply to
   IETF drafts.  This is not the place for a detailed discussion of
   authorship ethics, but the most important points are

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   o  Factual accuracy.

   o  Avoidance of misleading or obfuscating statements.

   o  Avoidance of misleading omissions.

   o  Balance between opposing arguments, when relevant.

   o  Careful acknowledgement and citation of sources and references.

   o  Avoidance of unacknowledged plagiarism.

   Factual accuracy includes accuracy about who wrote the document: only
   people who made a real contribution should be listed as authors or

   Other aspects are that personal or business considerations should not
   affect accuracy and balance, and any hidden conflicts of interest
   should be documented.  Corrections, clarifications and retractions
   should be made promptly when needed.

   Many academic journals and universities have published policies about
   authorship ethics.  Examples from life sciences are
   responsibilities/>, and <

   However, the IETF has some peculiarities.  Perhaps the most important
   is that we generally encourage the free flow of ideas and their re-
   use in fresh documents.  Sometimes that means that small or large
   sections of text are copied from one document into another, and
   subsequently changed as the discussion evolves.  In the world at
   large that is considered to be plagiarism.  In the IETF, we consider
   it to be normal business as long as due acknowledgement is given.
   This document is specifically scoped for IETF Internet-Drafts and is
   not intended to apply to non-IETF Internet-Drafts.  Some parts might
   apply to other document streams but that is incidental.  (See
   Section 5 of [RFC4844] for an explanation of the various document

3.  Authors

   Authors are people who have made a substantial creative contribution
   to the document.  Normally this means writing text or drawing
   diagrams.  Occasionally, with the consent of the other authors, it
   means making some other substantial creative contribution to the
   document, for example by writing a software implementation as part of
   the design process.  It's a matter of judgement whether a person who

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   simply makes a key intellectual contribution should rank as an

   People who did not make any such substantial contribution should not
   be listed as authors.  Funding support, professional reputation,
   managerial or supervisory status, and CV embellishment don't count.
   It's also worth noting that in the IETF, authorship by an employee
   does not imply endorsement by the employer.  Therefore, authors
   should not be added just because of who they work for.

   There are quite a few subjective judgements to be made about whether
   a contribution is substantial enough to count as authorship.  What
   fraction of new or corrected text counts?  Is a particular brilliant
   idea enough?  Should the author of a previous trail-blazing document
   be invited to join?  Should someone who promised to contribute
   significantly, but only contributed fragments, be removed?  It's hard
   to give definite guidelines for such cases.

   In normal circumstances, people should never be listed as authors
   without their explicit permission.  In case of doubt, the person
   submitting the draft should check with each listed author in advance
   to avoid any misunderstandings.  If an author wishes to withdraw,
   this should be honoured, although the person may then be listed as a
   contributor or be mentioned in the acknowledgements.

   The practical impact is that the authors will be listed as such on
   the front page if the document becomes an RFC, and in public

4.  Contributors

   Contributors are people who made smaller creative contributions to
   the document than the authors, for example providing initial ideas
   that others have transformed into publishable text, or drafting only
   a few paragraphs.

   People who did not make any such contribution should not be listed as
   contributors.  People should not normally be listed as contributors
   without their explicit permission.

   The dividing line between contributors and authors is a matter of
   judgement and cannot be rigidly defined.  However, the RFC Editor's
   policy is to query any document that has more than five listed
   authors.  Any list of more than five authors will need to be
   negotiated if the document is approved for publication as an RFC.

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5.  Editors

   When a document has a large number of contributors and potential
   authors, it may be appropriate to designate one or two people as both
   "Authors" and "Editors" and list the others as contributors.  The
   editors will indeed do the actual work of editing the document on
   behalf of the community.  The practical impact of this is that the
   editors will be listed as such on the front page if the document
   becomes an RFC, and in public bibliographies.

   In some cases, it may be appropriate to retain a list of authors of
   which one or two are designated as editors.  What matters is "truth
   in advertising": the people involved should all feel happy that the
   designations of editors, authors and contributors are fair and

   It's worth noting that in some people's opinion, once a draft has
   been adopted by a WG, all future changes are performed as an editing
   action on behalf of the WG.  Traditionally, the IETF has chosen to
   retain the word "Author" in most cases, with the formal designation
   of editors being exceptional.  Some other standards development
   organizations always remove individual authorship when a document is
   formally adopted.

6.  List of Acknowledgements

   Acknowledgements should be given to people who have made significant
   creative contributions smaller than those from the authors and
   contributors, or to people who have made useful comments, provided
   critical reviews, or otherwise contributed significantly to the
   development of the document.  If text or ideas have been adopted from
   other written sources, including IETF documents, clearly a reference
   is an ethical requirement, but an acknowledgement might also be

   Acknowledgements may also be given to people or organizations that
   have given material support and assistance, but this should not
   include the authors' regular employers unless there are exceptional

   An acknowledgement should be written as a description of a fact.  It
   does not and should not signify that the person acknowledged agrees
   with or supports the document.  In general, people who do not wish to
   be listed as an author or a contributor, but have in fact made a
   significant contribution, should be given an acknowledgement.  In
   unusual circumstances, acknowledgements of contributions have
   specifically indicated that the contributor does not support the
   document as posted.  Language such as the following might be used:

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      Thanks to <insert names> for their valuable comments and help
      during the development of this document, even though they did not
      fully agree with the WG's conclusion.

   When in doubt, it is usually better to include an acknowledgement
   than to omit it.

7.  Revised or Replacement Documents

   A common occurrence is that an IETF document from some years ago
   requires updating.  This is often done by people who were not the
   original authors.  The question then arises of whether to list the
   original authors on the "bis" draft, even if they are long gone from
   IETF participation.

   When an Internet-Draft is prepared by one or more new people but
   reuses significant amounts of text from one or more earlier RFCs and/
   or I-Ds, a situation arises that often requires thought and careful
   handling.  The criteria above suggest that the authors of the
   original documents should continue to be listed as authors.  After
   all, there is rarely any question that the earlier publications
   constitute "a substantial creative contribution" to the revised
   document.  However, there are no guarantees that the prior authors
   will want to be listed as authors of the new draft and take on
   whatever responsibilities that implies.  Ideally, those assembling
   the newer version will consult with the authors of the previous ones
   and make mutually acceptable arrangements, but, especially when that
   is not feasible, sensitivity to all possible issues will be needed.

8.  Other Exceptions and Discussions

   It goes without saying that normally nobody should be listed as an
   author, contributor or editor against their will.  Ideally, the
   parties involved will agree among themselves, or defer to the
   judgement of the WG Chairs or Area Directors.  Practice may vary
   between WGs.  However, we need flexibility to deal with unusual
   cases, such as these:

   o  As noted above, an acknowledgement is a statement of fact (the
      person contributed to the discussion).  In some cases it may be
      included even if the person acknowledged objects, for example if
      they made a suggestion that might later be viewed as prior art.

   o  Generalising the point made in Section 7, an earlier author or
      contributor may deserve to be listed, even if they cannot be
      contacted when a document is updated after a long interval.  Each
      such case needs to be considered on its merits.

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   o  In particular, an author or contributor might be deceased.

9.  Intellectual Property Rights

   This document does not discuss intellectual property rights and in no
   way preempts or alters the IETF's rules and requirements concerning
   intellectual property rights.  In particular some of the ethical
   guidelines above might be mandatory requirements under those rules.
   All IETF participants are strongly advised to be familiar with the

   It is worth noting that if a draft includes complete acknowledgements
   and references, it will be much simpler to clarify its status as
   possible prior art in years to come.

   Copyright in IETF documents is governed by BCP 78 [RFC5378] and its
   predecessors, the IETF Trust's Legal Provisions, and applicable
   national and international law.

   The word "contributor" used in this draft might not mean the same
   thing as the word "Contributor" used in BCP 79 [RFC3979].  That BCP
   should be consulted by anyone concerned about the IETF requirement
   for disclosure of intellectual property rights.

10.  Security Considerations

   None, really.

11.  IANA Considerations

   This memo includes no request to IANA.

12.  Acknowledgements

   Valuable comments were received from Loa Andersson, Andy Bierman,
   Carsten Bormann, Dave Crocker, David Farmer, John Klensin (who also
   contributed some text), Larry Kreeger, Eliot Lear, Tom Petch,
   Alexandru Petrescu, Yaron Sheffer, and Joe Touch.

   Especially given the topic of this draft, the author apologises for
   any accidental omissions.

13.  Change log

   draft-carpenter-whats-an-author-02, 2015-06-14: more comments, nits,
   some reorganisation.

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   draft-carpenter-whats-an-author-01, 2015-05-30: incorporating
   community comments, citing RFC Editor and IESG statements.

   draft-carpenter-whats-an-author-00, 2015-04-24: original version.

14.  Informative References

              dcrocker, d. and R. Droms, "IETF Working Group Guidelines
              and Procedures", draft-crocker-rfc2418bis-wgguidelines-00
              (work in progress), March 2015.

   [RFC3979]  Bradner, S., "Intellectual Property Rights in IETF
              Technology", BCP 79, RFC 3979, March 2005.

   [RFC4844]  Daigle, L. and Internet Architecture Board, "The RFC
              Series and RFC Editor", RFC 4844, July 2007.

   [RFC5378]  Bradner, S. and J. Contreras, "Rights Contributors Provide
              to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378, November 2008.

   [RFC5741]  Daigle, L., Kolkman, O., and IAB, "RFC Streams, Headers,
              and Boilerplates", RFC 5741, December 2009.

   [RFC7221]  Farrel, A. and D. Crocker, "Handling of Internet-Drafts by
              IETF Working Groups", RFC 7221, April 2014.

   [RFC7322]  Flanagan, H. and S. Ginoza, "RFC Style Guide", RFC 7322,
              September 2014.

Author's Address

   Brian Carpenter
   Department of Computer Science
   University of Auckland
   PB 92019
   Auckland  1142
   New Zealand


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