Guidelines for the General Chair of a SIGPLAN Event

[N.B.: SIGPLAN rules are highlighted like this to distinguish them from general recommendations and discussion.]

Executive Summary

You may be an experienced conference organizer, in which case much of the advice on this page may already be familiar to you. Nevertheless, even experienced organizers sometimes forget some important points, so please at least skim this page as well as the following ones:

Please help us keep this document (and the rest of this site) up to date: If you notice any errors, duplications, inconsistencies, etc., please inform the SIGPLAN vice chair.

Program Chair

Select potential Program Chair(s) and send their names to the SIGPLAN Vice-Chair for approval. Do this before asking the person to serve, at least 18 months prior to the event. Make sure the Program Chair reviews SIGPLAN’s conference submission review policy and diversity policy and point them to the web page describing program-chair responsibilities.

Date and Location

Select three potential sites for the conference and send them to the ACM Program Coordinator for SIGPLAN and to the SIGPLAN Vice-Chair. When selecting the location for a SIGPLAN conference or event, organizers should be sensitive to the needs, concerns, and safety of all community members. If the event is part of a series, then the date of the conference may have been established by the time you agreed to serve as chair (two years prior to the meeting). ACM must handle all negotiations with the venue. Please be careful about what information you provide directly to venues so as not to reduce ACM’s negotiating leverage.

Submission and Review Policies

The Program Chair may not submit papers to the conference, and the SIGPLAN Executive Committee recommends that the General Chair also not be allowed to submit papers. The conference steering committee should be consulted for any changes to the accepted way of organizing and running the conference. The SIGPLAN Executive Committee serves as the steering committee for conferences without steering committees of their own.

Approval and Call for Papers

Develop a timeline, at least eighteen months in advance of the conference date. Unless the conference is part of a series which already has approval for ongoing sponsorship, submit to the SIGPLAN Vice-Chair a SIGPLAN sponsorship request form eighteen months before the date of the conference. If you are unsure as to whether you need to submit a request form, ask the SIGPLAN Vice Chair. An ACM preliminary approval form (PAF) must be submitted in order to issue a call for papers. Approval of a PAF also causes the conference to be added to ACM’s master calendar.

If your conference is part of PACMPL, send your CFP to the Information Director (for posting on PACMPL’s website) and to the Editor-in-Chief (for review—the exact wording can apparently impact PACMPL’s indexing).


Establish a web site for the conference and send the URL to the SIGPLAN Information Director (as soon as date and site are determined). You can put a preliminary call on the web without listing the program committee, but a PAF must have been approved.

Financial Support for Students

The Professional Activities Committee of SIGPLAN has been established to award travel grants for students to present at SIGPLAN-sponsored events. Please mention its availability on your web page. PAC also has supported programs for underrepresented groups. If you would like to explore this possibility, please contact the PAC chair, listed on the PAC web page.

Consider seeking NSF funding to support student participation too. If you do so, do it well in advance, and consider specifying ACM as the recipient of the funds, so that they can handle disbursement.

Organizational Team

Select other members of the organizational team (e.g., local arrangements chair, publicity chair, publications chair, tutorial chair, etc). Send the names to the SIGPLAN Chair and Vice-Chair, one year before the event.

Local arrangements (such as registration and hotel management) for the main SIGPLAN conferences (PLDI, OOPSLA, POPL, and ICFP) are usually handled by a professional organization.

The conference steering committee should be consulted about any changes to the accepted way of organizing and running the conference.

Budget and Finances

Complete the TMRF budget form. The budget must include line items for contingency and return-to-SIG fees.

SIGPLAN’s general guideline is that the conference may offer complimentary registration and travel/lodging for keynote speakers and may offer complimentary registration for one tutorial speaker per tutorial.

ACM handles the bank accounts for sponsored conferences. Send email to the ACM Representative to SIGPLAN (the SIGPLAN Vice Chair can tell you who this is at the moment) for an advance. Expenses for reimbursement should also be sent to the ACM Representative to SIGPLAN.

Andrew Black wrote a document after SPLASH 2014 explaining where the money was spent.

Program Committee

Help the Program Chair to select the program committee. The list of potential committee members has to be approved by the SIGPLAN Vice-Chair (who will consult the SIGPLAN Executive Committee) before the members are invited. You and the PC Chair should decide on policies for submission and revewing (see Guidelines for Program Committee Chair). Please use the PC proposal spreadsheet to expedite the approval process.

Satellite Events

Co-located conferences or workshops make your event more attractive to participants. Establish a deadline for submission of workshop proposals. Consider appointing a workshop chair to coordinate them. (Make sure that whoever is handling this task – whether you or a workshop chair – has a conversation early in the process with the SIGPLAN Vice Chair to get clear on SIGPLAN’s expectations for how workshop PCs are formed and vetted.

You should contact chairs of co-located events and plan the common advance program, joint technical sessions, joint social events, etc. You should consider workshops on “hot” topics. Have the workshop chairs submit a proposal to the SIGPLAN Vice-Chair, as specified in the In-Cooperation or Sponsorship web pages.

SIGPLAN’s general guideline is that the conference does not provide additional funds to workshops to pay travel or registration costs for workshop organizers, keynote speakers, or other dignitaries. This guideline is not strict, and may be relaxed under certain circumstances.

More information and advice on workshop organization can be found here.

Preparing the Program

Once the conference program is set, work with the PC chair to prepare an advance program that can be posted on the conference’s web page. The advance program can also be used to create a schedule of events to be handed out at the on-site conference registration.

Post-event Reporting

Send a report at the end of the conference to the SIGPLAN Vice-Chair. The report should include information about any workshops that co-located with the conference. Please include:

  • number of attendees, broken down into categories (ACM members, students, SIGPLAN members),
  • number of papers and/or proposals submitted and the number accepted,
  • financial information,
  • general description of events that went well and those that did not, and
  • discussion of problems.

Important Email Addresses

SIGPLAN Vice Chair:
SIGPLAN Information Director:

See Also

Some columns containing useful advice for conference organizers have been published in SIGPLAN Notices and elsewhere over the years: