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Recently I served as a Program Committee member (=reviewer) in several conferences in computer science. In these conferences, there is a "hierarchy" of reviewers: there are "PC members", "senior PC members", "area chairs", and the "PC chair".

Do I need to do anything in order to "advance" in this hierarchy? Or should I just wait until some PC chair in the future decides to "promote" me?

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I am not sure if this is the same in your field, but in mine (software systems) PC member and senior PC member are actually different roles with different tasks. It's not so much an honour badge to be a senior PC member than being assigned for a different job in the selection process (typically, PC members do most of the reviewing while senior members do less reviewing and more "meta-reviewing", similar to an Associate Editor for a journal). It's also not the case that, once "promoted", you will always remain in that role - every team of program chairs is free to assemble their own PC, and they invite people to the different roles. This often, but not always, includes re-inviting previous committee members.

I know of cases where people who used to be senior PC members were asked to serve as regular PC members in the following year (or not at all). Also, many senior PC members are actually more junior (in terms of academic age or rank) than some of the regular PC members. This has to do with PC composition - you want to have good coverage of all topical areas that you receive contributions in, and of course past performance and the subjective impression (of the PC chairs) of the different people plays a big role as well.


That is all to say that there typically is no defined promotion process between different levels in a program committee. You need to do good work in previous years and gain sufficient notoriety in the community that the next batch of PC chairs sees you as somebody who they trust to oversee the selection of papers in a specific niche topical area.

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This is something you should explore with a conference chair. I'm not especially familiar with any "hierarchy" other than "chair" and "member", but suspect that, where it exists, the definitions and requirements differ.

A PC chair, of course has a lot of responsibility, both in organizing the program and in finding other members, It can take quite a lot of time and effort unless you already have a large set of collaborators and others in your field who know and respect you. I assume that position is invited by the Conference Chair.

I also don't know what effect it will have on your professional standing. How is "Senior PC member" a bonus over just "PC member". Both contribute and show activity in the profession. Chair is a step beyond, of course.

But if the Conference Chair of a given conference rotates among a fairly close set of people, then get yourself associated with them and known to them. Offer to help. Offer ideas for improvement, though carefully. But just saying you want to be more involved will probably be enough. Finding willing people is a major task.

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In my field (TCS/ML/AI), there is a seniority difference between PC and SPC, and in some instances tenure cases (at least their service parts) would place some weight on SPC/PC distinctions.

The easiest way of becoming an SPC is to ask: for instance, if you attend a conference, usually the chairs of next year’s conference are announced, approach them and mention that you’d love to be more involved in the next iteration in a more serious capacity.

Another approach is to initiate other activities to show your readiness to be involved. For example, initiating tutorials or workshops.

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