OSA's Digital Library

Biomedical Optics Express

Biomedical Optics Express


ADS Editor Help

OSA welcomes you to the Publications All-Digital System (ADS)—an all-electronic environment for author, editor, and reviewer activity. Through the ADS, individuals can also update their contact information or reviewer areas of expertise at any time. Read More...

Using the System Monitoring Peer Review
Logging In and Out Monitoring Peer Review
Searching for Manuscripts – Reviewer Declines
Editor Queue – Reviewer Requests More Time
Manuscript Specs Screen – Reviewer Is Tardy
Manuscript History  
Manuscript Assignment  
Initiating Peer Review Editorial Action and Follow-up
Search for Reviewers Editor Guidelines
Reviewer Search Results First Manuscript Decision
Reviewer History Final Manuscript Decision
Reviewer Pool Appeals and Resubmission
Adding New Reviewers
Contacting Reviewers Thank You Letters for Reviewers

Logging In and Out

Your login to the Editor section of the ADS system is your primary e-mail address (as recorded in OSA's database). Your password is the same as for other OSA web services (MyOSA, InfoBase, etc.). If you have never established an OSA password, please use your member ID as your password. If you do not know your member ID, please contact your Manuscript Assistant or use the "Forgot Password" option. By logging in, you will gain access only to the manuscripts assigned to you by the Editor-in-Chief.

After logging in, you will have access to the Editor Queue, which will give you access to the active manuscripts you have been asked to review. A secondary toolbar will list five tabs: InfoBase, the journal name, Papers, Reports, Editor Help, and LOGOUT. Clicking on the InfoBase tab will take you to the main Optics InfoBase page. The Optics InfoBase contains electronic versions of all OSA journals. You have free access to all materials on InfoBase for the duration of your term. If you encounter problems accessing the PDFs of papers, please contact Dan Mcdonold at dmcdonold@osa.org. The journal name tab will take you to the specific Journal online page. On this site you will find a short description of the journal, a list of the current editorial board, and an OSA staff list with contact information. Clicking on the Papers tab will bring you to your main queue, the Editor Help tab will take you to this page, and the LOGOUT tab will send you to the current issue Table of Contents. The Reports tab can only be used by the Editor-in-Chief of your journal, so please disregard it.

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Searching for Manuscript Records

You may perform searches of your queue in several ways. If you'd like to see a list of all the papers you've handled during your entire tenure, including those that you have accepted for publication or rejected, pick the "All" option in the Status window and push the Search button. In general, however, you will mainly be interested in papers currently in the peer review process. To list these papers, select the "In-Review" option in the Status window. When you first log into your queue, it will default to this setting.

To refine the search, you can also search, in either above status, by manuscript number (Doc ID:), any author name (Author:), by the current step (Process), or by the title (Title:). The Editor search field is only used by Chief Editors and OSA staff, so you can ignore it. If you need information on a paper handled by another editor, please contact OSA staff for assistance.

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Editor Queue Display

Your Editor Queue will automatically contain all active papers assigned to you (excluding rejected and accepted papers). If you'd like to see a list of all the papers you've handled during your tenure (including published and rejected), select Status "All" and click on Search.

There are five columns in your queue: ID, TITLE, NEXT STEP, DUE, and FROM.

  • The ID column lists the manuscript ID numbers and the PDF file size of each paper. You may view the PDF version of the manuscript by clicking on the Document ID link. Generally, within the ADS system the document ID is a link to the PDF file.
  • The TITLE column contains the title of the submission, the corresponding author's name, your name, the Target Review date (the date by which a paper should complete peer review), and the Target Publish date. The Target Review or Target Publish dates will be bold red if these dates have passed. If you click on the title you will access a Manuscript Specs screen. This screen will be described in greater detail in the next section labeled Manuscript Specs Screen.
  • The NEXT STEP column lists the current process for the manuscript. Clicking on that item will take you to the appropriate action screen. The process will not link to an action screen if it corresponds to an author or staff function.
  • The DUE column gives the due date for the current action requested. If you click on this date you will see a detailed schedule for that paper. If the action is past due the date will be bold red.
  • The FROM column contains the name of the person from which an action is pending (author, topical editor, reviewer, staff). Reviewer activity status is indicated by check marks (v). If there is one check mark next to a reviewer's name, it indicates that the reviewer has agreed to review the paper. If there are two check marks, the review has been submitted. If there is an exclamation point (!), the reviewer has requested more time. Please view and approve or decline this request as soon as possible

You may sort your queue by the criteria in each column by clicking on its label.

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Manuscript Specs Screen

By clicking on the title of a particular paper, you are taken to that papers Specs screen. This screen contains details about the submission, including corresponding author's address, additional author names and affiliations, the abstract of the paper, and keywords provided by the author. If the new submission is related to a published article, the link to that article will be given (for errata, comments/replies, or multipart papers). You will also see fields for the received date, and revised, accepted, and published dates if applicable.

Comments Field

At the bottom of the Specs screen, and on all other screens in the header area, you will see a line labeled Comments, followed by two bubbles. This area is used to record notes that OSA staff and/or the editor believe are important to the processing of a paper. If you'd like to add a comment, please click on the empty bubble. You will be taken to a dialog box where you will be able to type your comments. Press the Save Comments button to complete, or Cancel to return to the specs screen. The last three comments added to this record will appear on all screens for that particular manuscript in the Header Information. The Header Information will be described more fully in the Manuscript Assignment section. If you'd like to see all the comments entered on a particular paper, click on the second bubble. Keep in mind that only you, OSA staff, and the Chief Editor have access to these comments. The authors are unable to view these notes.

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Manuscripts History Screen

In the upper right corner of the Specs Screen, you may notice two links – one marked Specs and the other marked History. You can use these two links to move back and forth between the current Specs screen and the History screen. The History screen contains a list of all the actions you (and OSA staff) have made on a particular paper. The information on this page is divided into five columns:

  • PROCESS – This column contains a list of the actions made on the paper. They are listed in chronological order.
  • START DATE – the date a particular process began.
  • END DATE – the date a process was completed.
  • PROCESS RESULT – the outcome of each process.
  • FROM – the person responsible for each process.
To see more detail on a particular step, you may click on the plus (+) sign in the Process column. Doing so in the Submit Manuscript line will allow you to see the automatic e-mail sent to the authors when they uploaded their paper. Clicking on the + next to Quality Check will give you access to the acknowledgement letter sent to the authors. The Peer Review line can be expanded to show a list of all reviewers asked to review the paper, along with the dates of their replies. If you'd like to see one of the completed reviews, click on the + next to that reviewer's name. If you want to see a copy of the decision letter you chose, click on the + next to First Manuscript Decision. To see a copy of the letter that was actually sent to the author (with the OSA staff's format requirements attached), expand the process labeled Preproduction Review.

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Manuscript Assignment

You will receive a weekly e-mail status report listing all active papers currently in your queue. When a new paper is first assigned to you by the Chief Editor, the words "Peer Review" will appear in the Next Step column in your Editor Queue. You are responsible at this point for assigning Reviewers. To do so, click on the link for that paper within the NEXT STEP column and you will be taken to the Peer Review page.

The top part of this screen will contain the manuscript header, which includes the document ID, the paper's status, the paper's title, the corresponding author's name and e-mail address, coauthor names and affiliations, abstract, OCIS codes, and freeform keywords. Below that will be a list of comments entered by you or OSA staff. Directions on how to use the comment field can be found in the Manuscript Specs Screen section above. This header section will appear on all screens. For your convenience, there is also a link to the Review Criteria, just below the header section.

Below this is a list of the reviewers currently assigned to the paper. If the area is blank, no reviewers have been asked to review. To select reviewers, click on the Add a Reviewer button. Directions on how to find and assign reviewers to papers will be found in the next 6 sections. At the bottom of the Peer Review screen is a button labeled Close Peer Review. Only push this button when you have received reviewer comments sufficient to make a decision, or in the infrequent cases where you wish to make a decision without sending the paper to review. Once you push this button and choose "OK" in the subsequent "Are you Sure?" pop-up window, only OSA staff can reverse your choice. If you accidentally close peer review please contact OSA staff immediately.

If, after examining the paper and the header information, you believe that you are not the appropriate Topical Editor for a particular manuscript, or if you believe your handling of the paper will constitute a conflict of interest, please send a message to the OSA Manuscript Office. We will convey your concerns to the Chief Editor.

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Search for Reviewers

To find potential reviewers for a manuscript, click on the Add a Reviewer button at the bottom of the Peer Review screen. This will take you to the Assign Reviewer screen where you will see one box labeled Reviewer Pool and a second box labeled OCIS List. If the author provided reviewer suggestions or requests to avoid certain competitors, then that information will be listed on this page just below the Author Comments label.

The OCIS List contains reviewers that match all OCIS codes given to this paper by the author. To search for additional reviewers, select the Search for Reviewers button at the bottom of this page. This will take you to a screen where you can search for reviewers by first and/or last name, affiliation, research interests (freeform terms provided by the reviewer), or by OCIS codes. There is also a check box at the bottom of this page labelled "Search Entire Database." We suggest you check this box before searching, as the results will include everyone in our database, not just those that agreed to review papers in the past. To search by OCIS code, click on the arrow to the left of the Main OCIS line. You will see a list of the main OCIS codes. When you pick a main OCIS code the Select OCIS Codes box will be populated with all the individual OCIS codes under that main code. To search on a particular code, select it and then click on the [Add OCIS to Search Criteria] link. The code will then be added to the Selected OCIS box. To remove a particular OCIS code from the Selected OCIS box, highlight that code and click on the [Remove OCIS from Search Criteria] link. Please keep in mind that if multiple search criteria are entered the results must match all criteria ("and" search).

From our experience, the Research Interest search generally provides the most useful results.

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Reviewer Search Results

The Search Results screen will list all the reviewers matching the criteria entered on the Search for Reviewers screen. The search results will include the reviewer(s) name, affiliation, and research interests (if any), sorted by last name. If the reviewer has been asked to review for OSA in the past 30 days a red warning message will appear just below the reviewer's name. Please refrain from sending review requests to these people. A maximum of 25 reviewers matching the search criteria will be displayed on this page. If your search finds more than 25 potential reviewers buttons will appear above the reviewer list allowing you to see the next 25 matches, or to go back to the previous 25.

To view the review history of a particular person, click on his/her name. A description of the reviewer history page can be found in the next section. You can add people to the Reviewer Pool by checking the boxes in the right column and clicking on the Add to Reviewers Pool button just above the list of reviewers. You may select multiple people at one time. It is suggested that you select at least 4 people to add to a papers reviewer pool. If you would like to start a new search for this record, click on the Back to Search link above the Add To Reviewers Pool button. If you cannot find a particular person in our database that you know would be an excellent reviewer, you may add him/her to the OSA database by clicking on the "Add New Reviewer to Database" button. This will be covered in more detail in the Adding Reviewers Not in OSA Database section below.

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Reviewer History

The Reviewer History page will include the reviewer's complete contact information, OCIS codes grouped by 1-2-3-level of expertise (1 being the highest level of expertise, 2 slightly lower, etc), and research interests entered by the reviewer. Below this is a list of every paper the reviewer has been asked to review since 2003. This list is divided into 6 columns:

  • TITLE –This column indicates the OSA journal for each review request.
  • TASK –This is the action requested of the reviewer. Request Response indicates when the reviewer is first asked to review. Review indicates that the reviewer has agreed to review. The Review Reminder lines tell how many times the reviewer was reminded before returning a particular review.
  • SENT – This is the date a particular request was made.
  • RECEIVED – This is the date the reviewer responded to that request.
  • DAYS – The amount of days it took the reviewer to respond.
  • RESPONSE – If in a row with the task Request Response, this column will show the reviewer's response to the review request.The standard responses for reviewers when they decline are "too busy," "not in area of expertise," "out of office," and "other." If the task is Review, the information in this column will indicate the reviewer's recommendation for that paper. This is helpful to identify whether a particular reviewer consistently gives negative or positive reviews. N/A in this column indicates that the reviewer never responded to a particular request.
In general, we ask Topical Editors to avoid sending papers to reviewers that have reviewed another OSA journal paper in the past month. We also ask that a reviewer not be contacted more than 4 times a year. However, you can use your own judgment if you strongly feel a reviewer needs to see a particular paper. Also, be sure to pay close attention to the reviewer's responsiveness before assigning a review to him/her. A reviewer who has declined the past 5 requests is likely to decline the 6th request as well. Moreover, if a reviewer typically takes months to respond to a request, or doesn't respond at all, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Reviewer Pool

The Reviewer Pool serves as a "holding place" for all potential reviewers chosen by you for a paper. The names will be saved in the pool after each session. It is suggested that you put at least four names in the Reviewer Pool before contacting the reviewers. Reviewers often decline requests for reviews, and it is much easier to ask another person if his/her name is already in the Pool. However, before sending a request to a new reviewer we suggest that you quickly recheck that reviewer's history to be sure that he has not recently agreed to review another OSA manuscript. You can do this by selecting the person's name in the Reviewer Pool box and clicking the Reviewer History button just below the Pool. You may remove someone from the pool by selecting their name and clicking the Remove Reviewers from Pool button.

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Adding Reviewers Not in OSA Database

If a person that would make an excellent reviewer for a particular paper (or in general) does not appear in our database, you may and him/her by clicking on the "Add New Reviewer to Database" button. Only their name and email address are required to add them. After clicking on the button, you will be prompted to enter the potential reviewer's name and email address. The system will then search our database for possible matches. If none are found, please click on the button labelled "Add New Record" and follow the subsequent instructions. If you find someone in our system, but his email is incorrect, DO NOT add a new record. Contact OSA Staff immediately. They will assist you in updating our records.

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Contacting Reviewers

To send a request to reviewers, select the reviewers you wish to contact first, and click on the Assign Reviewers from Pool button. We suggest you initially contact three people, as at least one of the candidates will almost certainly decline. After clicking the Assign Reviewers from Pool button you will be taken a page that will list the reviewers you are about to contact. If one of the reviewers is currently reviewing another OSA paper, or has reviewed in the past 14 days, a warning message will appear just below that reviewer's name in red. To cancel the assignment, use your browser back button to return to the Assign Reviewer page. You may remove the person from your pool or select a new person to contact. Below the list of reviewers is a text box containing the standard text of the e-mail that is sent to potential reviewers. You may edit this message as you see fit. If more than one name appears in the List Reviewers area the same e-mail text will be sent to all of them.

If you'd prefer to send different custom letters to each reviewer, select just one name from the Reviewer Pool at a time. If a selected reviewer has reviewed for OSA in the past month or has been asked more than 4 times during the past year, it is strongly suggested that you modify the reviewer request letter to convey to them why you think their comments would be particularly important for this paper. When done, click on the Send Review Request button at the bottom of the page. The reviewer will receive an e-mail asking him to review the paper, and you will be returned to the Assign Reviewer Page. If you are finished assigning reviewers to this paper, you may either return to your queue by clicking the Back to Queue link at the upper left corner of the screen or go back to the Peer Review screen by choosing the Back to Peer Review link. If you return to the Peer Review Screen, the reviewers contacted will be listed in a table, along with the status and due date. This information will be saved for each record, regardless of the reviewers' responses. If you are finished assigning reviewers to a paper you may log out or return to your queue.

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Monitoring Peer Review

After contacting reviewers, their names will appear in the FROM column in your Editor Queue. If there is one check mark next to a reviewer's name, it indicates that the reviewer has agreed to review the paper. If there are two check marks, the reviewer has submitted his review. If there is an exclamation point (!) next to the name, the reviewer has requested more time. The way to reply to this request is detailed below in the Reviewer Requests Additional Time section. If the reviewer's name disappears, that means he has declined to review. You may also see the details of the review process at any time by clicking on the Peer Review Next Step. This will return you to the Peer Review screen, where you can see the status of each reviewer, including their response, due date, date last reminded, the date the review was completed, and their overall recommendation. You can also click on the Comments link in the right column to view their detailed comments to you and to the author, and any uploaded review documents.

- Reviewer Declines

If a reviewer declines a request to review, you will be notified in your weekly e-mail status report and expected to send a request to another reviewer, unless two other referees have already agreed to review the paper.

- Reviewer Requests Additional Time

If a reviewer requests more time to complete his/her report, you will receive an email message. You may then return to the record to accept or deny the request for an extension. You do this by clicking on Peer Review from your main queue, then the Request More Time link in the reviewer's record. On the subsequent screen will appear the reviewer's request, a blank field labelled Additional Days to Review, and buttons to approve or deny the request. To approve, look at the Current Complete Date for Review above the reviewer comments, check the date by when the reviewer would be able to submit his comments, then add the number of dats in the field provided. DO NOT leave this field blank when approving a request for more time. This will create an error in the record. If you accidentally do this please contact OSA Staff immediately. The reviewer will receive a second e-mail from you via the system indicating your response to their request. The reviewer's due date will automatically update based on the extension you approve. If you deny the due date extension the reviewer will be informed that you plan to seek another reviewer who is currently available but that if you are unsuccessful you might contact the reviewer again to ask for assistance.

- Tardy Reviewers

Keep in mind that though tardy reviewers are reminded automatically via e-mail, some will never respond. Please check your queue periodically to see if one or both reviewers for a paper are unresponsive. If it appears that a reviewer will not respond, you may want to send a request to another reviewer, or close peer review and make a decision based on one review. OSA staff will also monitor reviewer activity and contact you if necessary.

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Manual Reminder to Reviewers

Occasionally, you will find it necessary to close the peer review process of a paper before receiving responses from all contacted reviewers. If you would like to give the tardy reviewers one more chance to submit comments, you may click on the Send Reminder hyperlink for that individual on the Peer Review page. You will be able to edit the default reminder message as you wish, such as to state that peer review of this paper will end shortly, thus please send comments immediately to be considered with the manuscript decision.

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Closing Peer Review

When you are ready to proceed to the First Decision stage, you may select the Close Peer Review button. When you do this, any unresponsive reviewer would no longer be able to submit his/her review to our system. If he attempts to send his comments after Peer Review is closed, he will be directed to OSA Staff, who will contact you accordingly. After closing peer review for a particular paper you will proceed to the First Manuscript Decision screen. Likewise, the NEXT STEP indicator will change to First Manuscript Decision.

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First Manuscript Decision

On the First Decision page the manuscript header, author information and running comments are displayed. Comments can be entered by you or staff and are meant to help share information about a paper that does not naturally fit elsewhere in the system. Below the header will be a summary of the reviews received along with links to the complete reviews. Further down the page you can select from a list of decision letters: Manuscript Accepted, Manuscript Accepted-Optional Revisions, Manuscript Accepted with Mandatory Revisions, Manuscript Requires Major Revisions, or Manuscript Rejected. The default text for the letter selected will appear in the e-mail text box. The letters can be modified as you wish. You may also choose to include as much or as little of the reviewer comments as you see fit. Please be sure the reviewers' names do not appear in their comments to the author. All reviews are strictly confidential, unless the reviewer asks to be identified. Once you have made your decision and completed the e-mail text, select the Send to Author button. A reject decision will be sent to the author immediately. Any other decision will be held until OSA Staff performs a preproduction review for the manuscript. Your decision and a list of any required copy revisions will be sent to the author in the same e-mail. The author will now have the opportunity to review your decision and respond accordingly.

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Final Manuscript Decision

When an author submits a revision in response to your decision, you will be notified in your weekly e-mail report. From the Editor Queue page, select the Final Manuscript Decision link in the Next Step column to take action on this revision. Select the decision you wish to make and add comments to the standard letter text as you deem necessary. Once you have made your decision and completed the text, select the Send to Author button. If the final decision is not "Reject", the paper will receive another OSA staff preproduction review before the letter is sent to the author. Due to OSA's one-bounce policy, the option for "Major Revisions Required" is not given. Please contact OSA Staff if it is necessary to use that decision for a revised manuscript. You may also choose for the manuscript to Repeat Review. This is similar to the first reviewer round, but the reviewer will be able to view the Author's response and all original reviewer comments to the Author, as well as the revised manuscript, via the online review site. Before sending a paper to re-review, please keep in mind that this option should only be used when absolutely necessary, as it increases the peer review time for papers. If you decide that re-review is warranted, click on the Add a Reviewer button on the re-review screen. The previous reviewers' names should already appear in the Reviewer Pool. You may send the revision to some or all of the previous referees, or send it to new reviewers if you wish. Be sure to monitor the re-review activity so you can take action once the reviews are complete.

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When an author appeals the rejection of his/her paper, they will generally send a message to OSA Staff. If you receive an appeal directly from an author, please email it to your Manuscript Assistant immediately. When receiving an appeal, you may handle it as you see fit. If you believe it is without merit, you can uphold your original decision. If the author is still not satisfied, the matter will be referred to the Editor-in-Chief.

If, after reviewing the author's response and the original submission, you feel that further evaluation is warranted please instruct OSA Staff to reactivate the manuscript record. However, this should only be done in exceptional circumstances. In most cases, you should encourage the author to revise his/her paper and resubmit it as a new paper. This new paper will include a detailed response to the previous reviews, and will be assigned to your queue for a final decision.

We realize that appeals are particularly difficult to handle, so if you need guidance please contact OSA Staff.

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If an author submits a revision of a rejected submission, that revision will be assigned a new manuscript number. Staff will add a running comment for you on the Manuscript Specs screen that gives the document ID of the previous record. The author's response to the previous decision will appear in the Comment section of the Assign Reviewer page or in the pdf file of the resubmission.

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Editor Guidelines

Guidelines for Editors are available in PDF format.

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Thanking Reviewers

The functionality for sending Thank You letters through ADS is not yet available. Even so, please consider using one of the five standard Thank You letters at the bottom of this page to personally acknowledge the efforts of your reviewers. You may send the letters yourself, or instruct staff to send a letter on your behalf.

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(Difficult Review)

Dear XXX,

Thank you for your review of the [journal name] manuscript, ["ms title" (id#)].

We know that good reviewers have busy schedules with other professional responsibilities so I appreciate the effort you put into completing this challenging review. OSA journals rely on the advice of reviewers such as you to maintain the highest quality of publication.


Topical Editor

(Overburdened Reviewer)

Dear XXX,

Thank you for your review of the [journal name] manuscript, ["ms title" (id#)]. You have donated your time and expertise on several occasions in recent months, and I want to personally acknowledge your efforts. I realize that you are busy and appreciate your contribution.

Please accept my sincere thanks for your support. Contributions from dedicated members of the optics community such as you allow us to maintain the highest quality of publication.


Topical Editor

(Exceptional Review)

Dear XXX,

Thank you for your excellent review of the [journal name] manuscript, ["ms title" (id#)]. I appreciate the insight and constructive comments you've offered, which are very useful to me as Topical Editor.

OSA journals rely on the expert advice of reviewers such as you to maintain the highest quality of publication.

With sincere thanks,

Topical Editor

(Decision Conflicts with Review)

Dear XXX,

Thank you for the review of the [journal name] manuscript, ["ms title" (id#)]. After careful consideration of the issues, I have decided to accept the manuscript despite your objections. Therefore, please accept a short explanation of my decision.

[Editor's comments]

[Additional language that could be used: Although I am an active researcher in the optics field, some of the manuscripts that cross my desk are beyond my personal expertise. Consequently I try to rely on the reviewers' advice as much as possible. In the case of a conflict between reviewers or reviewers and author, I follow my instincts but cannot always guarantee that I will make the correct decision. In this case]

I do appreciate your opinion and the effort you made to review this manuscript. I also hope that you will continue to review for [journal name] and other OSA journals in the future. This journal could not maintain its high standards without the help of highly qualified and dedicated reviewers such as you.

With sincere thanks,

Topical Editor

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