The development of new technology is driven by scientific research. The Internet, with its roots in the ARPANET and NSFNet, is no exception. Many of the fundamental, long-term improvements to the architecture, security, end-to-end protocols and management of the Internet originate in the related academic research communities. Even shorter-term, more commercially driven extensions are oftentimes derived from academic research. When interoperability is required, the IETF standardizes such new technology. Timely and relevant standardization benefits from continuous input and review from the academic research community.
For an individual researcher, it can however by quite puzzling how to begin to most effectively participate in the IETF and arguably to a much lesser degree in the IRTF. The interactions in the IETF are much different than those in academic conferences, and effective participation follows different rules. The goal of this document is to highlight such differences and provide a rough guideline that will hopefully enable researchers new to the IETF to become successful contributors more quickly.