For most conferences in my field it seems to be invitation-only, i.e. somebody has to suggest you/remember you. Are there any conferences that have open calls for applications to the programme committee?

3 Answers 3


It's rare. I know of one conference though (in theoretical computer science) where the steering committee actively maintains a list of "qualified but has never served", and strongly encourages PC chairs to look over that list when selecting names. Your best strategy might be to approach the steering committee and suggest that they do something like this, so as not to sound like you're shilling for yourself :)

  • 1
    That would be SOCG. I'm surprised that all conferences don't do this.
    – JeffE
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 14:07
  • Actually I was thinking of SODA, but I wasn't aware that SoCG also does it.
    – Suresh
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 16:14
  • 2
    I think there is a reason why few conferences have a transparent way to choose PC members, using an open list: it's hard to judge whether reviewers are reliable. In CS, I have heard that people tend to "know" which people seem qualified but would not do good reviewers (e.g., fail to hand in the reviews on time). But there is no public list (or no transparent way to exclude such people from public lists), it's just shared privately between people in the field. I don't know whether this is a good system, but this may be part of the justification why the "public list" approach is not very common.
    – a3nm
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 11:50

I agree with Suresh, it's rare, I've never seen a call for invitation to a PC in my field (Computer Science). I have actually seen people making fun of emails asking to be in a PC (i.e. if you ask the PC Chair to join the PC, it could be negatively perceived).

From what I understand, there are at least five possibilities to get a PC chair to invite you to join a PC (of course, none of them are automatic, they can just be helpful. In the end, the PC Chair makes his own choices, in order to have a PC that is attractive enough for authors to submit a paper, and serious enough so that the reviewing process can be done effectively):

  • if you were in the PC of the previous editions
  • if you know the PC Chair, so that he can trust you to do your job,
  • if you already are in other PCs of conferences in a related area (i.e. other PC Chairs trusted you)
  • if you have published several papers in previous editions of a conference
  • if someone you know is invited to join the PC, but he can't and suggests you.

Of course, it's a cycle: the higher reputation you have, the higher are your chances to be invited to join a PC, and the more PC you join, the higher is your reputation.

  • I agree completely with @Charles Morisset, it's like a "snowball" activity! lol! You let others to know your work (by publishing - in well-acknowledged venues-, and attending [good] confs/workshops, for instance), and, when you have the opportunity to serve as a PC Member, you MUST do a great JOB, so that your name will be spread to the community, and new invitations will come. Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 15:13
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    This comment pertains to the 'top' conferences. It's a 'boys' club. Members get each other to review/accept and perpetuate work of other members. They sell to the world that the work is great. Not much difference to a cult. Only difference: members tend to belong to 'top' schools and hence people believe them. How you get in? Go to the same schools, be a student or colleague. For lower ranked conferences, the above list by user102 applies. Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 22:25

Talk to members of the current organizing committee? It's tough work, and scientists are always busy, so they'll usually be receptive to having someone else to split the work with, and there's always a chance that somebody is too busy to help with next year's committee, and they're looking for a replacement.

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