In the interest of openness and fairness, this page documents key TCRTS policies related to the organization of the major conferences that it sponsors and oversees, in particular the Real-Time Systems Symposium (RTSS) and the Real-Time and Embedded Technology and Application Symposium (RTAS).

Steering Committee

RTSS and RTAS are sponsored by the IEEE Technical Community on Real-Time Systems (TCRTS).

The TCRTS Executive Committee oversees RTSS and RTAS. The Chair of the TCRTS Executive Committee serves for a period of two years, having served previously as Vice Chair. The Vice Chair, and hence the Chair, are elected via a vote of IEEE Computer Society members.

The Chair of the Executive Committee is responsible for inviting and appointing members of the Committee to serve for a period of two years. A list of the current members of the TCRTS Executive Committee is published on the TCRTS website.

Selecting the Venue

RTAS is part of CPS/IoT Week and hence the conference location is determined by the CPS/IoT Week steering committee.

RTSS is a stand-alone conference. Each year a call is sent out on the TCRTS mailing list inviting proposals to host RTSS in two years’ time. This call may indicate a preferred geographical region. The TCRTS Executive Committee reviews the proposals received and selects a shortlist to be considered and voted upon by all participants (i.e. those attending RTSS) during a TCRTS meeting held at the conference. The vote takes place after short presentations by the prospective local organisers.

Selecting the Program Chair and General Chair

Program Chairs: The Conference Planning Sub-Committee of the TCRTS Executive proposes a shortlist of candidates for the next Program Chair of each conference. The Program Chair is selected from the shortlist via a vote of the full TCRTS Executive Committee, with the exception of members with a Conflict of Interest (COI).

The Program Chair for RTAS becomes the General Chair for the following year.

For RTSS, the General Chair is selected independently of Program Chair appointments, with the appointment taking place once the venue has been selected. Again, the Conference Planning Sub-Committee proposes a shortlist of candidates which is voted upon by the full TCRTS Executive Committee, with the exception of members with a Conflict of Interest (COI).

Note the difference between the two conferences is due to the differences in General Chair workload between a standalone conference (RTSS) and one that is organized as part of a larger event (RTAS).

Selecting Track Chairs

Track Chairs are invited and appointed by the Program Chair in consultation with the General Chair and the Chair of the TCRTS Executive Committee.

Selecting other Organisational Roles

The Program Chair is responsible in consultation with the General Chair for selecting Artefact Evaluation, Brief Presentation, Industry Session, Publications, Publicity, and Web Chairs.

Selecting the Program Committee

The Program Committee (PC) is selected by the Program Chair and the Track Chair(s).

PC members are permitted to serve for a maximum of three consecutive years on the PC, with exceptions permitted for well-founded reasons such as diversity, and to support minority groups. Note since Program / Track Chairs do not review papers, previous Chairs are not counted as serving on the PC for the purposes of this policy.

The objectives in choosing the composition of the PC are: to ensure that there is sufficient expertise in the relevant topic areas, to ensure that the PC has a suitably diverse demographic that reflects the entire community, and to ensure a strong degree of continuity. PC members are expected to have a high level of expertise, to be active researchers with recent publications, and are chosen based on merit. To ensure that the PC retains sufficient experience and collective memory of the standards required, typically 10% (and exceptionally at the very most 20%) of the PC should be new to the role (i.e. have not been a PC member for RTSS or RTAS before). PhD students are not selected as PC members. 

Serving on the PC of a major conference is both an honour and a significant time commitment. The Chair of the TCRTS Executive keeps a record of PC members who have not fulfilled their role well in prior PCs, for example by providing poor quality or late reviews, or by being absent from the PC meeting without good cause or notification. This record acts as a caution regarding subsequent appointments to the PC; it is however purely advisory, no-one is precluded.

Eligibility to Submit Papers

The Program Chair is not permitted to submit papers to any track of the main conference. Track Chairs are not permitted to submit papers to their own track. All other members of the organizing team, including: General Chair, Local Organisers, PC members etc. are permitted to submit papers to the conference. Workshop/Brief Presentations/Demos Chairs are not permitted to submit papers to their own workshops/sessions.

The Review Process

The review process is double blind, i.e. authors’ identities and affiliations are not made known to the reviewers during the review process, and reviewers’ identities and affiliations are not made known to authors. See the double-blind submission requirements and the double-blind policy FAQ for each conference for further details.

PC members bid for papers, indicating their reviewing preferences (yes, no, or maybe) and any Conflicts of Interest (COIs) – see later definition, against a list of all authors.

Authors of papers may optionally indicate PC members that they have a COI with that is outside of the normal scope of COIs. This information, including proper reasons for the additional COIs must be communicated directly to the Program Chair in writing prior to the submission deadline. These PC members will not normally be eligible to review the authors’ paper(s). Note the final decision on whether to make this restriction rests with the Program Chair.

Once the bids have been completed, the Track Chairs assign papers to PC members based on their preferences. Typically, the conference management system will provide an initial assignment, which may then be refined by the Track Chairs.

Each paper is reviewed by at least four PC members.

Once the initial reviews have been completed, PC members have the opportunity to look at the other reviews for papers they were allocated, and to discuss them online with the other reviewers. The reviews are then sent to the authors who have a short period of time to write a rebuttal. The purpose of the rebuttal is to answer questions that the reviewers may have raised and correct any specific misunderstandings in the reviews.

Prior to the PC meeting, the reviewers have the opportunity to read the rebuttal for each paper they reviewed and update their reviews and scores as appropriate. During the PC meeting, each paper that has at least one supporting reviewer is discussed. The discussion is initiated by one of the reviewers (appointed as the meta-reviewer for that paper by the Track Chair) who summarises the work, and the main review comments. The other reviewers then articulate their views. The meta-reviewer provides a summary of the PC discussion as feedback to the authors from the PC meeting inside the online review system (or indicates that no such discussion took place). Papers that are shepherded will have clear points set out which must be addressed in the revision. If these points are not satisfactorily resolved, then the paper will not be accepted. Note that the shepherding phase, which assesses the final camera-ready version of a paper, is single-blind, i.e. the authors’ identities will be known to the shepherd.

PC members with a COI with a paper will not review or see the reviews for that paper, and they will not be party to the discussions about it during the PC meeting.

The review process for any papers where the Track Chair / Program Chair has a COI are handled by an alternate chair (often someone who has previously chaired the conference). This ensures that the Track Chair / Program Chair has no knowledge of the identities of the reviewers. The alternate takes over the PC meeting for a brief time to cover the Chair’s COIs.

Note submitted papers undergo plagiarism checks and the authors’ names are checked against the IEEE prohibited authors list.

Selection Criteria

The PC selects papers for inclusion in the conference program based exclusively on merit and novelty.

Any other criteria, such as whether authors are affiliated with well-known companies, whether authors are members of an underrepresented minority, or whether authors are well-known members of the community, etc., play no role in the selection process.

The adoption of a double-blind peer reviewing process further serves to reduce the impact of any unconscious biases.

Outstanding Paper, Best Paper, and Best Student Paper Awards

As part of the review process, reviewers may nominate papers which they consider as being of outstanding quality. After the PC meeting, the Program Chair (or Track Chair in the case of Program Chair COI) is responsible for selecting a small sub-committee to consider which of the nominated papers will receive Outstanding Paper Awards. Typically, 3-4 papers (exceptionally at most 5) receive such awards each year. This equates to approximately 10% of accepted papers (2.5% of submitted papers).

Papers that receive an Outstanding Paper Award form the shortlist for the Best Paper and Best Student Paper Awards (in exceptional cases, a wider set of papers may be examined for the latter award, e.g. if none of the Outstanding Papers was authored by a student). The recipients of these awards are determined by the sub-committee on the basis of the final versions of the papers. (Note, these decisions, which assess the final camera-ready versions of papers, are taken single-blind, i.e. the authors’ identities will be known to the sub-committee).

To be eligible for the Best Student Paper Award, a paper must have as its first author a person who was a student at the time of the submission deadline.

Papers (co-)authored by a Track Chair are eligible without restrictions for all awards (Outstanding Paper, Best Paper, and Best Student Paper if the first author meets the above requirement). If a Track Chair’s paper is nominated by the PC for an Outstanding Paper Award, the Track Chair is barred from playing any role in the awards subcommittee due to the obvious conflict of interest.

Best Presentation Award

The Program Chair is responsible for selecting a small sub-committee who will attend all the conference sessions and determine the recipient of the Best Presentation Award.

Selecting Satellite Events: Hot Topics Day and Workshops

RTSS typically hosts a Hot Topics Day. A call for proposals for workshops / tutorials / special sessions at RTSS is made each year. Hot Topics Day events are selected by a small sub-committee comprising the Hot Topics Day Chair, Program Chair, and General Chair. The criteria for selection are set out in the call for proposals. The space available for Hot Topics Day events may be limited depending upon the venue for RTSS.

RTAS does not have any associated workshops. Workshop proposals may be submitted to the CPS/IoT Week organizers.

Conflicts of Interest (COIs)

For the purposes of reviewing papers, PC members have a conflict with a paper, if they and the authors:

  1. Had at any time a supervisor/PhD student relationship.
  2. Are both from the same institution, or have worked at the same institution in the past 3 years.
  3. Are currently working together on a research paper, project, or funding proposal, or have done so during the past 3 years.
  4. Are related, or are close personal friends.
  5. Are in some form of financial relationship, or have been at some point during the past 3 years.
  6. Any other reason or circumstance that creates a risk that professional judgement may be unduly influenced.

Since the Track Chairs / Program Chairs do not themselves review papers, but rather facilitate discussion, point (iii) above is deemed to be a COI only if there is a substantial history of the Chair working with the authors.

Program Chairs may, at their discretion, choose whether or not to elicit COI information from authors as well as (mandatory) obtaining this information from PC members (reviewers). However, due to continuing experience each year of a small minority of different authors apparently using the COI process to avoid certain reviewers that they do not actually have a COI with, author entered COIs, if obtained, may ONLY be used in an advisory manner and MUST be checked by PC members before being confirmed in the conference management system. Authors may continue to use the existing mechanism for flagging exceptional COIs to the Program Chair. Note Program and Track Chairs may at their discretion, also declare COIs for PC members where the COIs are someone from the same institution, or the PhD advisor or student of the PC members. Nevertheless, the responsibility for declaring COIs rests with the PC members and they are expected to diligently declare all valid COIs that they have with authors.

Registration Fees

In the interests of fairness, TCRTS policy is that students should only ever be charged the student registration rate, even if they are the only person registering as author for a particular paper. (Full registration fees are not appropriate for student authors).

The above TCRTS policy applies to RTSS, and is recommended for RTAS where registration fees are set by CPS/IoT Week.


RTSS and RTAS take a number of actions on equity, diversity and inclusion. See the Equity page for each conference for more details.