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Guidelines for DCMI Working Groups

Creator: Makx Dekkers
Date Issued: 2003-10-31
Is Replaced By: Not Applicable
Latest version:
Status of document: This is a DCMI Process Document.
Description of document: This document outlines the structure and operation of Working Groups in the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative [DCMI]. It describes the details of the organizational structure and the decision making process. 
(2006-10-30) Please note that these guidelines will be modified to reflect the new structure for technical work that was discussed and approved at DCMI meetings in Manzanillo in October 2006. DCMI Working Groups will henceforth continue either as DCMI Communities or as DCMI Task Groups. A DCMI Community, with a Web page and mailing list, will serve as a forum for open discussion on special topics or domain applications. A DCMI Task Group will develop specific deliverables such as application profiles on a DCMI wiki.

Purpose and background

This document defines the procedures which are employed in developing Dublin Core specifications and in carrying out other tasks to advance the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. These tasks are carried out by Dublin Core Working Groups. In particular, this document sets out guidelines for:

  • the initiation of new work items;
  • the establishment and conduct of Working Groups;
  • the responsibilities of the chairs and members of Working Groups;
  • the communication of Working Group documents and reports; and
  • the ratification of decisions on work items.

Initiation of a new Dublin Core work item

A proposal for a new DCMI work item may originate from:

  • the DCMI Directorate; or
  • a DCMI Working Group; or
  • anyone who participates in the Dublin Core (dc-general) international discussion list.

In the first case, a work item proposal will be developed and documented by the Directorate. In the last two cases, a work item proposal will be developed, documented and submitted by a proposer to the Directorate. In all three cases, the Directorate will consult with the Advisory Board. The proposer must be willing to participate in any Working Group dealing with the work item.

The Directorate may either:

  • approve the work item and refer it to an existing Working Group for action;
  • approve the work item and establish a new Working Group to carry it out;
  • decide to take no further action; or
  • defer any action until a specified date.

This decision should be documented and communicated to the proposer. In the case of the third and fourth courses of action, reasons should be given.

Working Groups

DCMI Working Groups are constituted to address work items raised in the course of DCMI activities. Membership of DCMI Working Groups is open to all interested parties. A Working Group becomes dormant at the completion of its charter and should not address additional work items without charter revisions reviewed by the DCMI Advisory Board and approved by the DCMI Directorate.

Chairs and Co-Chairs (if any) of Working Groups are appointed by the DCMI Directorate. The Managing Director has the task of following up and coordinating Working Group chairs.

Because the DCMI Workshops provide an opportunity to discuss and review work items and to introduce new people, all working groups will automatically expire at each DCMI Workshop, although they may be re-constituted if necessary.

Working Group activities are conducted through a combination of face-to-face meetings, teleconferencing, and an archived mailing list. Minutes from face-to-face meetings and teleconference calls will be maintained by the chair or the chair’s designee.

Responsibilities of Working Group chairs

Working Group chairs will:

  • write the Working Group charter, in consultation with the DCMI Directorate;
  • invite all interested parties, through the Dublin Core (dc-general) list, to join the Working Group;
  • ensure that an e-mail list is established for use by all Working Group members;
  • ensure that an official list of Working Group members is maintained;
  • submit to the DCMI Directorate a list of deliverables and their target dates;
  • manage the work of the Working Group to ensure that deliverables are completed by the target dates;
  • should a deliverable miss the target date, report the reason for slippage to the DCMI Directorate and submit a new target date;
  • make regular reports of progress to the DCMI Directorate;
  • ensure that all Working Group members have an opportunity to approve or disapprove all decisions and Working Drafts of the Group;
  • resolve any lack of consensus in the Group; and
  • ensure that decisions are accompanied by explanation that will support that consensus both within the Working Group and in the larger community.

Responsibilities of Working Group members

Working Group members will:

  • participate in e-mail discussions in a timely fashion;
  • read and comment on proposals and related documents;
  • carry out any actions which are assigned to them by the Working Group chair, with their agreement;
  • participate in face-to-face meetings and teleconference calls when possible; and
  • be sensitive to the importance of consensus as a central feature of the DCMI process.

It is recognised that some individuals will join Working Groups in order to follow, rather than participate in, the discussions. This is acceptable, although Working Group members are encouraged to share their expertise with the community through active participation.

Conduct of Working Groups

Within each working group, the discussion will be focussed on discrete “open issues”. Discussion of open issues will be managed by the chair via e-mail, teleconference, and/or face-to-face meetings. Such discussions will lead to decisions or actions.

“Actions” are tasks deemed necessary to the conversion of open issues to decisions. Actions must be assigned to specific individuals or groups of individuals, and should include a deadline as well. Examples of actions include preparing a document or document component, articulating a technical solution to a problem, and eliciting information from an individual or group external to the Working Group.

“Decisions” are made reflecting rough consensus as judged by the chair. Failure to respond in e-mail discussions of open issues or proposed decisions on the Working Group mailing list may be construed by the chair as evidence of agreement. Reversals of decisions made previously by the Working Group require a very clear consensus as judged by the chair.

In the conduct of e-mail discussions, the Chair will ensure that:

  • the discussion is focused on open issues, leading to specific actions or decisions;
  • time limits are imposed for discussion and consensus building (intervals will vary according to the complexity of issues, and established and extended at the discretion of the chair); and
  • the subject lines of e-mail messages are constructed so as to facilitate the reference to particular open issues.

In the conduct of teleconference or face-to-face discussions, the Chair will ensure that:

  • the discussion is focused on open issues, leading to specific actions or decisions;
  • meetings are scheduled in advance (1 week or more for teleconferences, 4 weeks or more for face-to-face meetings);
  • meetings have advance agendas; and
  • meetings are conducted according to formal techniques for managing meetings (such as agendas, time limits, queues, and rules of order).

Working Group Web page

All working group documents are publicly accessible via the DCMI Web site. The Web site will include a page for every Working Group detailing:

  • the charter for the working group;
  • a list of expected deliverables, and deadlines for completion;
  • a schedule of events (meetings and conference calls, past and planned);
  • the current version of the Group’s Working Draft(s)(if any); and
  • a link to the e-mail archive of the Working Group list.

Working Group documents

During its development within a Working Group, a report may go through a number of Working Draft versions. The Working Draft may be developed by the Chair, or by one or more members of the Working Group with the oversight of the Chair. These versions may be notified to members of the Working Group only, or may be given wider notification at the discretion of the Chair.

The work item may be abandoned following comment at the Working Draft stage, if these comments reveal major flaws or seriously unsatisfactory features. In this event, reasons for the decision should be issued by the Working Group Chair.

Once the Chair is satisfied that there is broad community consensus, he or she will submit the Working Draft to the DCMI Managing Director. Further process is governed by the Procedure for approval of DCMI Metadata Terms and Recommendations.