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Does someone know what are the different roles between a Program Committee (PC) member and Reviewer for conferences (e.g., in the field of machine learning)?

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Do you mean "what is the difference between a PC member and a reviewer" or "are there any reviewing roles that lie between PC member and reviewer" –  Suresh Dec 10 '12 at 5:59
@Suresh, it would be the best if you can comment on both. Thank you! –  Giantron Dec 10 '12 at 6:35
PC = reviewer + administrative work. I believe they are responsible for 1) assigning papers to reviewers (marriage problem). 2) nominate papers for best paper award/journal track. 3) set up a program for the conference. Usually different PCs are monitoring different subareas. These are my observations though never been PC myself. –  seteropere Dec 10 '12 at 7:21
@seteropere Thanks a lot :) –  Giantron Dec 10 '12 at 11:03
@seteropere: That could be the makings of a good answer for this question! –  TCSGrad Dec 10 '12 at 18:10
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The responsibilities of a programme committee member and a mere reviewer could easily be the same, or differ. All depends on the particular conference/workshop setup. E.g., in computer science/AI there the difference is mainly a result of the venue size. Large first-tier conferences, such as e.g., IJCAI have a four layer programme committee structure. Here PC chairs, the top layer, govern the whole process from recruiting the various types of PC members, through conflict-of-interest handling, bidding on submissions, to notification and proceedings composition and publication. For such conferences the PC chairs recruit Senior PC members who are responsible for larger batches of submissions, or small sub-areas and report to PC chairs. For some conferences, the SPCs recruit regular PC members who in turn report to them and are responsible for the reviews. Regular PC members normally do the reviews themselves, but it's relatively common that they sometimes "subcontract" the job to other reviewers they recruit. These lowest level reviewers would do the review and get credit too, but the actual PC member is ultimately responsible for the review and the discussions among the PC members. Upon completing the review and discussion phases, SPCs give final recommendation for acceptance/rejection and possibly write meta-review summarizing discussion to each submission. The PC chairs would distribute the notifications and handle the proceedings and programme schedule composition.

Now, for mid-size conferences, or workshops the senior PC members layer is usually missing and regular PC members report directly to PC chairs and take over the tasks of SPCs for large conferences. The mechanics of sub-reviewing stays the same.

For small-size conferences and workshops, there are virtually no administrative tasks left for the PC members, so they do just the reviewing (possibly recruit sub-reviewers) and the PC chairs finally decide about acceptance and rejection of the individual submissions on the basis of the received recommendations.

What I describe above is regular scheme of things in "applied computer science".

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Very informative answer. would love to hear from you about whether the submission crisis exist also in IJCAI/AAAI and other top-tier conferences in AI. –  seteropere Dec 11 '12 at 3:54
@seteropere: interesting. Regarding the submission crisis in conferences I observe: the number of submissions for IJCAI and AAMAS seem to be stable over the past years 5+ in the range of 1300 and 600 respectively. Hence, the explosion does not seem to happen. The PCs are large indeed, but the global consistency seems to be well maintained by the SPC layer. IMHO, the quality of reviews is consistently very high for IJCAI, for AAMAS only slightly lower - PC discusses submissions extensively in discussion rounds. I do not observe re-submissions, rejections tend to end up at collocated workshops. –  walkmanyi Dec 11 '12 at 8:55
@seteropere: since the community is generally very compact, IMHO the comment straightforwardly extends to AAAI too. –  walkmanyi Dec 11 '12 at 8:55
@walkmanyi, thanks for the informative answer. For some large-size conferences (e.g., CVPR, ICCV, etc.), there are also area chairs. The number of area chairs is much fewer than the SPCs of other conferences (e.g., IJCAI), noting that those conferences are of similar size. –  Giantron Dec 12 '12 at 1:35
@Giantron PC looks much stronger in the CV than only reviewer. In particular PC means you are a recognized researcher in your area. –  seteropere Dec 12 '12 at 1:50
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PC = reviewer + administrative work.

They are responsible for:

  • Assigning papers to reviewers (marriage problem).
  • Nominate papers for best paper award/journal track.
  • Set up a program for the conference.

    Usually different PCs monitor different subareas. Also, I believe they contribute on solving conflict of interest issues - if there is any. These are my observations, never been PC myself

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