Applied Optics Editor Ron Driggers explains the new policy for considering expanded conference papers in OSA journals.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

It is not hard for me to become confused (just ask my kids), because I think about confusing things all the time. I even enjoy strange questions, such as: If a fly had no wings, would it be called a walk? Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway? Is there another word for synonym? Can a vegetarian eat animal crackers? Ok, enough of those questions! However, it’s not only me but many others have been confused about whether you can submit a conference paper for publication in Applied Optics.

My own opinion and the opinion of other leadership members in the optics and optical engineering community involves the purpose of a conference paper and the purpose of a journal paper. Conference attendance and the presentation of a conference paper are intended to allow for personal interactions to share your thoughts and ideas with others (colleagues and other researchers). This exchange of ideas and concepts can be preliminary rather than well developed. The important aspect here is “in person,” so that others can have a dialogue with you. The purpose of a journal paper is to provide an archival quality document that contains significant and original work. It should be polished and provide a detailed analysis, experiment, or methods that others can duplicate, where the significance and originality are self-apparent.

The confusion here is that some conference papers are now copyrighted and are even becoming peer reviewed for quality. Additionally, conference papers are more widely accessible online and some are also indexed. Even the publication models are changing rapidly, so it is difficult to keep tabs on the appropriate guiding ethics. Please refer to General Policies on conference papers in the OSA Author and Reviewer Resource Center (https://www.osapublishing.org/submit/review/general_policies.cfm#general) for the guidelines that apply to all OSA journals:

  • 1. Conference papers that are expanded for journal consideration should meet standard journal criteria for originality, novelty and quality.
  • 2. Work that also appears in conference proceedings should be expanded, revised, and/or refined with substantial or significant new information in comparison to the conference proceedings.
  • 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 are obligated to ensure 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.

I have been a journal editor for approximately seven years now, and there has always been confusion about whether it is acceptable to submit a conference paper to a journal. At Applied Optics, we will publish any conference paper submission that is upgraded to journal quality and meets the other criteria mentioned above. It must satisfy the requirements of significance and originality and must pass peer review. It must be expanded from the conference paper with appropriate attention to presentation quality as expected in an archival publication. An extremely important point is that attribution to the conference proceeding should be provided. A suggested statement is provided with the OSA policy. Finally, authors must be aware when they have transferred copyright for the conference paper to another party so that they may act accordingly and obtain permission to reuse text or figures in a new submission when necessary. I will say that the professional societies to which I belong encourage the expansion of conference papers for publication in journals. However, if you plan to use a figure or verbatim text from someone else’s conference paper, then I suggest that you contact publishers to ensure that you are not in conflict with their copyright policies.

From the OSA point of view, the policy above has been established to provide clarity and consistency when OSA journals consider publishing work adapted from conference proceedings.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion. Now all I have to do is ponder such things as…can you daydream at night?

Ron Driggers
Editor, Applied Optics

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