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OSA Publishing

General Policies

Ethical Guidelines
Conflicts of Interest
Data Availability Statements
Revised Manuscripts
Transfers Between OSA Journals
Resubmission of Rejected Manuscripts
Conference Papers
Comments and Replies
Corrections and Retractions

Ethical Guidelines

The following documents are provided to inform authors, editors, reviewers, and readers of OSA's ethical policies and guidelines. OSA journals are members of COPE, and submissions are screened for plagiarism using Similarity Check. Any questions may be addressed to the OSA Editorial Ethics subcommittee at ethics@osa.org.

  1. Guidelines of the Optical Society of America Concerning Ethical Practices in the Publication of Research (PDF)
  2. Guidelines of the Optical Society of America on the Use of Humans and Animals in Research:

    It is the expectation of the Optical Society of America that research using animals and human subjects reported at the meetings and in the publications of the Society will have been conducted in accordance with internationally recognized principles regarding the ethical conduct of biomedical research. Authors must include a brief statement within the manuscript identifying the institutional and/or licensing committee (i.e. Institutional Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) that approved the experiments. Experiments involving animal subjects are expected to be consistent with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (published by U.S. National Academy of Sciences, ISBN 0-309-05377-3). Experiments involving human subjects are expected to conform to the principles expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki. For such experiments, authors must also include a statement confirming that informed consent was obtained from all subjects.

  3. OSA Plagiarism Policy: Editorial on Plagiarism (PDF), published February 2013
  4. Conflicts of Interest Policy. Basic guidelines for disclosing conflicts of interest are included in the Guidelines of the Optical Society of America Concerning Ethical Practices in the Publication of Research. OSA's Journals require full disclosure by authors of all conflicts of interest relevant to a submitted manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest

[Version 8 July 2019]

The following policy is mandatory for all OSA Journals plus Photonics Research. A Disclosures statement is required for all submissions. Authors, reviewers and editors for the Journal of Optical Communications and Networking (JOCN) may voluntarily comply with the guidelines but the Disclosures statement is not required for JOCN.

Conflicts of Interest Policy (PDF)

Conflicts of Interest: Definition

Awareness and proper management of potential conflicts of interest for authors, reviewers and editors is essential to OSA's mission to disseminate and archive optics and photonics knowledge. OSA defines a conflict of interest as arising from any relationship authors, reviewers or editors have which interferes with, or could reasonably be perceived as interfering with, the full and objective presentation, peer review, editorial decision-making, or publication of a manuscript. Conflicts of interest can be financial or non-financial, professional or personal, and can arise in relation to an organization or an individual. OSA Journals requires full disclosure by authors of all conflicts of interest relevant to a submitted manuscript, which is integral to the transparent reporting of research.

Sources of funding for reported research, as well as relevant commercial relationships of authors represent special categories of potential financial conflicts of interest for which specific disclosures are expected by the scientific community and the public. For the purposes of publishing in OSA Journals, a Commercial Relationship is defined as any involvement with a for-profit entity which produces, markets, re-sells, or distributes goods or services, which fits within any of the Commercial Relationships Disclosure Codes listed below. Relevant Commercial Relationships are defined as those that (1) relate to the content of the publication for which disclosure is taking place and (2) occurred or extended within a 12-month period preceding the manuscript submission or the review request. OSA considers financial relationships to create conflicts of interest when individuals have both a financial relationship with a commercial entity and the opportunity to affect published content related to the products or services of that commercial entity. Disclosures should also be made for relevant commercial relationships involving family members.

Obligations of Authors

Appropriate disclosures are made in three distinct sections of a manuscript: Acknowledgements, Funding, and Disclosures. The distinctions between these sections are described below.

  • All sources of funding for the research reported, including direct and indirect financial support, supply of equipment or materials, in-kind support (e.g., optical design/manufacturing) and other support (such as specialist statistical or writing assistance) should be disclosed in the manuscript. Specific sources of government, foundation, or commercial grants or awards, including identifiers if available, should be listed in a separate Funding section for each author. Other sources of relevant research funding may be listed in an Acknowledgments section.
  • All relevant commercial relationships which occurred or extended within a 12-month period preceding submission, and which relate to the content of the manuscript, should be disclosed for any authors who have such relationships. This should be done using the Commercial Relationships Disclosure Codes below, in a separate Disclosures section.
  • Authors should list in the Disclosures section any additional conflicts of interest, financial or non-financial, dealing with the subject matter of the manuscript that editors, reviewers or readers might reasonably expect to know or might otherwise affect the interpretation of the findings.
  • If there are no conflicts, the Disclosures section should include the following statement: "The authors declare no conflicts of interest."
  • It is the responsibility of the First or Corresponding Author to assure that each Co-author is aware of this Policy and to ensure that all required funding and disclosure information is included for all authors.
  • Authors are expected to submit a Correction if a previously unrecognized conflict of interest is discovered after publication.

Obligations of Editors

  • Editors should disclose to the editor-in-chief any conflicts of interest, financial or non-financial, resulting from direct competitive, collaborative (within the past five years), or other relationships with any of the authors or organizations with interests in the paper, and avoid cases in which such conflicts preclude an objective evaluation. If in doubt, the editor is encouraged to consult with the editor-in-chief regarding the appropriate course of action.
  • If a manuscript competes with the research of an editor such that the editor feels s/he could not handle the paper objectively, or whose handling could be perceived as biased, the editor should decline responsibility for that manuscript. If in doubt, the editor is encouraged to consult with the editor-in-chief regarding the appropriate course of action.
  • Editors should take all disclosed conflicts of interest into account during the review process.
  • Editors should attempt to avoid reviewers who have known conflicts of interest that, in the editors' judgment, could interfere with an unbiased review.
  • Article submissions from editors are managed so that no details of the review process, other than those available to all authors, are accessible to the editor.

Obligations of Reviewers

  • Reviewers should disclose to the editor conflicts of interest, financial or non-financial, resulting from direct competitive, collaborative (within the past five years), or other relationships with any of the authors or organizations with interests in the paper, and avoid cases in which such conflicts preclude an objective evaluation. If in doubt, the reviewer is encouraged to consult with the editor regarding the appropriate course of action.

Commercial Relationships Disclosure Codes

These codes are to be used for Relevant Commercial Relationships, as defined above.

F (Financial Support) Indicates financial support received from a commercial entity in the form of research funding, grants, research materials or in-kind services (e.g., optical design/manufacturing).

I (Personal Financial Interest) Indicates individual ownership of shares or other investment vehicles in a commercial entity other than through a managed fund (e.g., mutual or retirement fund).

E (Employment) Indicates employment (full or part-time) by a commercial entity.

C Indicates engagement as a paid consultant for a commercial entity.

P (Patent) Indicates any involvement with a patent or competing patent, patent application, copyright, or trade secret, whether or not the patent, copyright, etc. is presently licensed or otherwise commercialized.

R (Recipient) Indicates receipt of gifts, honoraria, travel reimbursement, patent royalties, or any other financial compensation valued in any amount from a commercial entity.

S (non-remunerative) Indicates position(s) of influence such as officer, board member, trustee, spokesperson, etc. which are not financially compensated.

Examples of Conflicts of Interest disclosures (Initials represent those of relevant authors):

For illustration, authors Jonas Grumby, Roy Hinkley, and Andrew Squiggman are represented below as JTG, RHH, and AJS.

Funding. National Institutes of Health (NIH) (DP3DK108248); U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (DE-AC02-05CH11231, DE-AC52-07NA27344).

Acknowledgments. Statistical support was provided by Albert J. Brooks, University of Missouri. Writing assistance was provided by Writing Associates, Inc. Optical Design support was provided by Optics Design, Inc.

Disclosures. JTG: 123 Corporation (I,E,P), RHH: 456 Corporation (R,S). A: 789 Corporation (C).

Disclosures. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Data Availability Statement

[Version 22 December 2020]

Under this new OSA policy, all authors must declare if and how any data that were generated or analyzed as part of the current study can be accessed. The new policy will go into effect for all OSA journals, with the exception of the Journal of Optical Communications and Networking, starting on 1 March 2021 and may be followed voluntarily in the interim.

OSA strongly encourages authors to make research data associated with their manuscripts publicly available where possible, and to use best practices when selecting data repositories and citing datasets. See DataCite and OSA Supplementary Materials Guidelines for more information. Information about how to access the data underlying the results presented in a paper should be provided in a Data Availability Statement (DAS) and, where possible, datasets should be cited in the reference list.

What to Include?

The DAS should appear in the manuscript immediately after the Disclosures statement. All OSA article preparation templates include a sample DAS.

OSA has identified four common (sometimes overlapping) situations that authors should use as guidance. These are provided as minimal models, and authors should feel free to include any additional details that may be relevant.

  1. When datasets are included as integral supplementary material in the paper, they must be declared (e.g., as "Dataset 1" following our current supplementary materials policy) and cited in the DAS, and should appear in the references.

    Data availability. Data underlying the results presented in this paper are available in Dataset 1, Ref. [3].

  2. When datasets are cited but not submitted as integral supplementary material, they must be cited in the DAS and should appear in the references.

    Data availability. Data underlying the results presented in this paper are available in Ref. [3].

  3. If the data generated or analyzed as part of the research are not publicly available, that should be stated. Authors are encouraged to explain why (e.g. the data may be restricted for privacy reasons), and how the data might be obtained or accessed in the future.

    Data availability. Data underlying the results presented in this paper are not publicly available at this time but may be obtained from the authors upon reasonable request.

  4. If no data were generated or analyzed in the presented research, that should be stated.

    Data availability. No data were generated or analyzed in the presented research.

  5. Revised Manuscripts

    Manuscripts returned to the author for revision should be returned to OSA as quickly as possible. The decision email will include the due date for submission of the revised manuscript. Any revisions received after that date may be assigned a new received date. After revising the paper and writing a detailed reply to the reviewers with a list of changes made to the paper, the corresponding author will log on to Prism to submit a revised manuscript and response. Many editors find a red-lined version of the manuscript to be useful when evaluating the revised paper. Authors can upload a red-lined manuscript in Prism. The editor will then make a final decision or, less often, may choose to send the manuscript back to reviewers. Editors are encouraged to accept or reject revised manuscripts without requesting further mandatory revisions.

    Transfers between OSA Journals

    OSA journals are editorially independent. However, if an editor receives a manuscript that is out of scope but may be suitable for another OSA journal, the editors of both journals will consult and, if they agree, will contact the author to offer to transfer the manuscript. If the author agrees to the transfer, the original receipt date is retained.

    In the case of submissions to Optica that do not meet the journal's criteria for broad interest, the editor may recommend that the author transfer the manuscript to another OSA journal for consideration. The author can choose whether or not to transfer the manuscript and to which journal. Further details of the Optica process can be found here.

    Authors also have the option to transfer manuscripts and peer review details from other OSA journals to OSA Continuum. The transfer option is available to the author for two weeks following certain decisions in another OSA journal. When authors have already received useful peer review comments, the OSA Continuum editors prefer to see a revised manuscript before taking action.

    In neither case does the transfer of manuscript files guarantee acceptance. Any reviewer comments and identities will be available to the editors of the receiving journal since they could facilitate a rapid decision. The editors at the receiving journal may decline the transfer, request further revision, or seek further review as needed.

    Resubmission of Rejected Manuscripts

    Authors of rejected manuscripts may revise their papers and resubmit them to the same journal or to another OSA publication. Authors must include a detailed cover letter outlining the changes made to the manuscript, as well as a response to the previous referee comments, and disclose the previous manuscript number during the resubmission process. If the resubmission is made to the same journal as the initial submission, the paper will generally be assigned to the same Associate/Topical Editor and handled at their discretion. If the author has not suitably addressed the reviewer and editor concerns, the editor may decline reconsideration. If the resubmission is made to a different journal, the author must justify why the paper should be reconsidered in the new journal. OSA staff will make the previous history (reviewer comments, decision letter) available to the new Associate/Topical Editor as background information. The new editor will proceed at their discretion. OSA discourages serial resubmission of rejected manuscripts.

    Conference Papers

    OSA values the role of conferences and journals to serve the optics and photonics community with high-quality, timely, and relevant content. To foster the development of work in progress and to support the dissemination of results in an archival publication, OSA encourages manuscripts based partly or entirely on work presented at conferences to be submitted to an OSA Journal.

    The following guidelines are intended to clarify OSA's policy for authors, reviewers and editors:

    1. Conference papers that are revised and submitted for journal consideration are subject to each journal's criteria for originality, novelty and quality.
    2. Results that appear in conference proceedings may form the basis for a journal submission. Such a journal submission will be assessed on its own merit for novelty without regard for prior publication in the conference proceedings. Such submissions will have been expanded, revised, and/or refined to add value to the conference proceedings; for example, by including more complete data or interpretation in comparison to the paper that appears in the conference proceedings, and may cite a more complete set of the relevant literature.
    3. Appropriate attribution to the conference proceeding should be included as a citation or an acknowledgment in the journal manuscript. This is also applicable for submissions to feature issues based on OSA conferences. The following statement is suggested for the Acknowledgments: "Portions of this work were presented at the {conference name} in {year}, {paper number or paper title}". Include multiple conferences if applicable.
    4. Authors should verify that copyright policies associated with the conference proceeding allow for publication of derivative work. Authors are responsible for obtaining any permission required to reuse text, figures, etc. Papers from OSA conferences do not require further permissions unless they contain figures, tables, code, etc. which are reprinted from other sources.
    5. Many conference proceedings are now indexed by Google Scholar, Web of Science, CrossRef, Scopus, etc. and may also receive a DOI. OSA requires authors to modify the title of the journal manuscript to avoid indexing two publications with the same title.
    6. All papers submitted will follow the normal journal processes, including assignment of editors, peer review and appeals.

    Comments and Replies

    Comments on articles previously published will be considered in OSA Journals. A Comment should occupy no more than three journal pages (no more than one page for Optics Letters and no more than two for Express Journals) including title, author list, tables, figures, and references. All Comment papers submitted to Optics Letters should be received no more than 6 months after the publishing of the original article.

    The abstract should be brief. The Comment should be substantive and collegial in tone. Polemical Comments will be rejected. The main purpose of a Comment should be to point out and to correct significant errors or deficiencies in papers, to clarify the implications of a paper, or to take issue with the conclusions reached. Comments whose primary purpose is to discuss issues of priority or to call attention to oversights in a reference list will generally not be considered for publication.

    Before a Comment is reviewed by qualified referees, it may be forwarded to the authors of the article being commented on to allow them an opportunity to provide additional feedback. After receiving this response, the editor can decide whether it is appropriate to send the Comment to review. If, after peer review, the editor decides to accept the Comment for publication, the original authors will be asked to submit a formal Reply. Replies are subject to the same length restrictions as Comments. If the Reply is accepted, both Comment and Reply will be published together in the next available issue of the journal.

    Corrections and Retractions

    [Version 12 May 2017]

    The Optical Society (OSA) recognizes its responsibility as a publisher to preserve the integrity and completeness of the scholarly record. Changes to articles after they have been published online may only be made under the circumstances outlined below. OSA's policy is based on best practice in the academic publishing community.

    An Erratum is a statement by the authors of the original paper, published in the same journal, which briefly describes any correction(s) resulting from errors or omissions, noting any effects on the conclusions of the paper.

    • The original paper is neither corrected nor removed from the online journal, but an erratum notice is given on the abstract page.
    • The Erratum is made freely available to all readers and is linked to the original article.
    • Errata are submitted to the journal through the Prism article tracking system.

    A Publisher's Note informs readers that an article has been corrected subsequent to publication. It is issued by the Publisher and is used in cases where typographical or production errors (which are the fault of the Publisher) affect the integrity of the article metadata (such as title, author list or byline) or will significantly impact the readers' ability to comprehend the article.

    • The original article is replaced with a corrected version where possible and a separate Publisher's Note describing the correction is linked to it. The date that the correction is made is noted on the corrected article.
    • Publisher's Notes are freely available to all readers.

    Errors or omissions by the authors that affect the integrity of article metadata (such as author list, byline, or funding) are considered at the discretion of the Editors and Publisher.

    • If approved, the original article is replaced with a corrected version where possible and a separate Publisher's Note describing the correction is linked to it.
    • The date the correction is made is noted on the corrected article.

    A Retraction is a notice that the paper should not be regarded as part of the scientific literature. Retractions can be initiated by the authors when they have discovered substantial scientific errors, and may also be issued if the OSA Editorial Ethics Review Panel has determined that misconduct has occurred, such as plagiarism, fraudulent use of data, duplicate submission, bogus authorship, etc.

    • The Retraction is made freely available to all readers and is linked to the original article.
    • A notice of retraction is appended to the original .pdf article and also displayed on the abstract page.
    • The retraction indicates the reason for the action and who is responsible for the decision. If a retraction is made without the unanimous agreement of the authors, that is also noted.

    OSA Publishing does not permit publication of Addenda.


    Crossmark is a multi-publisher initiative to provide a standard way for readers to locate the current version of a piece of content. By applying the Crossmark logo OSA Publishing is committing to maintaining the content it publishes and to alerting readers to changes if and when they occur.

    Clicking on the Crossmark logo will tell you the current status of a document and may also give you additional publication record information about the document.


    OSA Journals maintain high standards for acceptance. In many cases, papers are deemed unsuitable for publication either before or after peer review. Authors who believe an appeal is warranted should contact the Journal editorial staff with the request for an appeal. The staff will then open an Appeal process for the manuscript in Prism. The author will be directed to complete a brief online questionnaire to submit arguments to the editor along with a thorough response to all of the referee comments. A final ruling will be made by the editor as soon as possible. The editor's ruling on the appeal, in almost all cases, will be final. Under exceptional circumstances, an appeal may subsequently be made to the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

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