The role and responsibility of an editor or PC chair

I just saw a tweet arguing that a program committee (PC) chair was being disrespectful of the reviewers, if they (the editor) overruled their (the reviewers) recommendations to accept a paper. I beg to differ. It is the PC chairs job to make the final decision on what gets into the research program and they can very well reject papers they deem unfit, even if the reviewers think otherwise. A PC chair is not just an executing organ of the reviewers’ will and there is more context to decisions than what reviewers can see.

This may become more apparent when you invert the situation. I remember an editor (as a reviewer) rejecting a paper because, in their words, “the reviewers said so”. Again, it has to be the editor’s decision to reject a paper, based on input from the reviewers, and they shouldn’t be hiding behind the reviews. I made a mental note to avoid that editor.

The buck stops with the editor / PC chair (except for totally extenuating circumstances that might pull in the general chair or even the steering committee). They are given power, and they are expected to properly wield it.

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