SPIE Code of Conduct

Effective Date: 28 August 2023


Integrity and professional conduct are fundamental to scientific advancement. SPIE cannot flourish without the respectful and equitable treatment of all those engaged within its communities. As citizens of the global community of science, optics and photonics professionals share responsibility for its welfare. The members and constituents of SPIE occupy positions of authority within their fields, and that authority is accompanied by ethical responsibilities.

Integrity in the conception, conduct, and communication of SPIE programs and activities reflects not only on the reputations of individuals and their organizations, but also on the image, reputation, and credibility of SPIE. Failure to uphold ethical principles harms the Society, scientific credibility, the well-being of individuals, and the broader optics and photonics community.

The SPIE Code of Conduct is presented as a set of guidelines, expectations, and best practices for professional behavior regarding the practice, learning, training, publishing, and communication of science and technology which governs all SPIE constituents (inclusive of members, authors, volunteers, exhibitors, conference attendees, sponsors, award winners, and everyone else who participates in an SPIE program or activity).

A process to guide the remediation and resolution of suspected violations is also an important component of the SPIE Code of Conduct. This process can be found in Section 6 of the Code: “Process for Reporting and Investigating Complaints.”

  1. Mission of SPIE

    All SPIE members will support the mission of the Society: “SPIE partners with researchers, educators, and industry to advance light-based research and technologies for the betterment of the human condition.”

  2. Our Community

    SPIE as an organization derives its authority and strength from its members and expects everyone who participates in an SPIE program or activity to accept a personal obligation to the communities we serve and to commit to the highest ethical and professional conduct as outlined in The SPIE Code of Conduct (aka, The Code).  

  3. Rationale

    SPIE fosters and supports a safe and professional environment in order to learn, conduct research, and communicate science with integrity, respect, fairness, and trustworthiness at all organizational levels and in all scientific endeavors. Adherence to The Code holds everyone accountable to promoting ethical behavior and an ethical environment at SPIE events and activities.


All who participate in SPIE programs and activities are expected to work to maintain an environment that allows the SPIE community to flourish through respectful, inclusive, and equitable treatment of others, to embrace the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas, and to promote equality of opportunity and fair treatment for their colleagues.

  1. Scope

    The Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines, expectations, and best practices for professional behavior that apply to all SPIE constituents, while participating in an SPIE program or activity. SPIE programs and activities include, but are not limited to, SPIE events, publications, awards, honors and recognition, student programs, governance programs, and all appointed, elected, and volunteer positions.

    The Code of Conduct applies to all locations and situations at SPIE activities and events and when SPIE business is conducted in public or private facilities.

    SPIE fosters and supports an environment free from harassment and unlawful discrimination at our events, which are fundamentally designed to enable information exchange, education, networking, and community building with colleagues in an environment of mutual respect.

    SPIE will not retaliate against those who, in good faith, take action to report behavior that violates The Code. These provisions also apply to those who participate in investigations or other enforcement actions taken to address violations of The Code.

Guidelines and Expectations 

    1. Adherence to Law and Regulations

      SPIE constituents must comply with all applicable laws and regulations where SPIE business is being conducted, and when participating in an SPIE activity or event must adhere to all SPIE policies.

    2. Expected Behavior

      While participating in an SPIE program or activity, SPIE constituents are expected to adhere to the following:

      1. Respect Others
        • Respect all who participate in SPIE programs or activities, including their privacy and the protection of their personal information and data.
        • Credit the creators, collaborators, contributors, and sources of new ideas, inventions, and artifacts. Those who expend these efforts deserve acknowledgement and the ability to gain value from their work.
        • Respect copyrights, patents, trade secrets, license agreements, and other methods of protecting intellectual property rights. Do not misuse or infringe on the intellectual property rights of others.
        • Treat others with mutual consideration, valuing a diversity of views and opinions.
        • Be honest in your work and your dealings with others. Dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, coercive manipulation, censorship, or other misconduct can alter the content or meaning of findings, and may affect the planning, conduct, reporting, or application of science and technology.
        • Do not misrepresent your accomplishments, publications, or professional honors or titles.
        • Do not engage in disruptive behavior, including disruption of talks at oral or poster sessions, in the exhibit hall, or at any other event organized by SPIE.
      2. Treat Others Fairly
        • Foster fair participation while engaging in SPIE programs or activities, including participation of underrepresented groups in order to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.
        • Work to ensure equality of access to, and participation in, the activities of the Society.
        • Do not engage in unlawful discrimination.
        • Do not engage in the prejudicial treatment of others; avoid bias.
        • Do not engage in bribery.
      3. Do Not Harm Others
        • Do not injure others, their property, data, professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment through false or malicious action.
        • Do not engage in, participate in, or tolerate physical or verbal abuse or intimidation of any kind.
        • Do not engage in, participate in, or tolerate harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, bullying behavior, defamation, or other abuses of power and authority.
        • Do not undermine, hinder, or impede colleagues or students in their professional or intellectual development.
        • Do not retaliate against anyone who, in good faith, reports an act of misconduct, a violation of laws, rules, or regulations, or a violation of the SPIE Code of Conduct.
    3. Communications

      SPIE constituents have a responsibility to serve the public interest and to further advance scientific and technical knowledge. This includes ensuring that public comments made in connection with SPIE programs and activities are made with care and accuracy to avoid misleading, exaggerated, or premature statements.

    4. Environment

      SPIE provides an environment for the optics and photonics community to remain current with developments in their field, learn with and engage others, and maintain and improve expertise. SPIE Constituents are responsible for creating and upholding a safe, open, supportive, and professional environment for learning, conducting, and communicating science and technology with integrity, respect, fairness, and trustworthiness, when participating in SPIE programs or activities.

      SPIE values diverse participation and provides a supportive environment that protects the rights of all people to pursue the advancement of optics and photonics, and to participate in the scientific community. SPIE will support members of groups that have historically been excluded or discouraged from scientific fields. SPIE does not allow its constituents to engage in unlawful discrimination during SPIE programs and activities. SPIE supports career advancement, fosters open and free communication of science and technology, and advances the progress of science overall through the inclusion of all contributors.

      SPIE strongly encourages its constituents to participate in efforts designed to recognize and counteract bias (explicit, implicit, and systemic; perceived or otherwise) at all SPIE events and activities.

      SPIE constituents are expected to treat each other with respect and consideration and to create a welcoming, collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that successfully advances optics and photonics. This responsibility encompasses both formal sessions and informal interactions at all SPIE activities.


SPIE recognizes leaders in the optics and photonics community through several mechanisms, including but not limited to:

  • Officers, Directors, and Advisors serving on the SPIE Board
  • Governance Committee Chairs, Members, and Advisors
  • Conference chairs and program committee members
  • SPIE Student Chapter officers
  • Journal Editors-in-Chief and Associate Editors
  • SPIE Press Series Editors
  • Recipients of all SPIE awards and honors

These roles are voluntary leadership positions within the Society and those who hold them are ambassadors of the SPIE mission and values. Consequently, in addition to adhering to the SPIE Code of Conduct, SPIE volunteer leaders are expected to uphold and promote both the Code of Conduct and its foundational principles in all aspects of professional conduct. This section provides additional guidance for SPIE volunteer leaders.

As leaders in the optics and photonics community, and ambassadors of SPIE, volunteer leaders shall:

  • Create and support activities that are aligned with SPIE’s mission to advance light-based research and technologies for the betterment of the human condition.
  • Understand, abide by, uphold, and promote SPIE’s Code of Conduct.
  • Understand and abide by SPIE bylaws, governing policies, and procedures.
  • Abide by all applicable laws and regulations when doing work on behalf of SPIE.
  • Hold themselves to the highest standard of professional behavior, with honesty and integrity, and treat others with equity, fairness, and respect.
  • Conduct themselves in a professional manner when participating in any SPIE program or activity, or when acting on behalf of SPIE.
  • Act solely within the authority granted by virtue of their SPIE volunteer position.
  • When representing SPIE in an official capacity, act in the best interest of the Society.
  • Maintain the confidentiality of any proprietary or privileged information pertaining to SPIE and its members, partners, or other constituents.
  • Disclose real or perceived conflicts of interest.

Additionally, SPIE volunteer leaders are expected to use their leadership position to promote SPIE principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, integrity, and respect throughout the SPIE community. Specifically, SPIE volunteer leaders are encouraged to:

  • Create and support opportunities within SPIE for professional growth and development for other members of the community.
  • Create and support policies within SPIE that promote participation and engagement from all segments of the optics and photonics community.

SPIE reserves the right to revoke or otherwise limit the privilege of participating in a leadership role in Society activities, and all leadership activities are made at the discretion of the SPIE Board of Directors or Executive Committee within the limits of the Bylaws and applicable law.  


By adhering to the SPIE Code of Conduct, all who participate in the creation, presentation, and/or publication of content submitted to SPIE, as well as all those involved in the review and publication process, are expected to adhere to the following ethical principles and guidelines, pertaining to all submissions to SPIE.

SPIE undertakes to publish materials in service to the global optics and photonics community. In so doing, SPIE explicitly declares it will only undertake publication behaviors that are ethical and scientifically rigorous. SPIE is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the purpose of which is to educate and support editors, publishers, and those concerned with publication conduct: https://publicationethics.org/about/our-organisation.

This section provides specific guidance concerning SPIE content and publications.

  1. Scope

    This section of the SPIE Code of Conduct applies to all authors and presenters of all content presented at SPIE events and activities, and all content submitted for publication, as well as all those involved in the review and publication process. Publications include, but are not limited to presentations, books, journals, journal articles, conference proceedings, papers, abstracts, posters, and presentation recordings on SPIE websites (including the Digital Library) as well as in print form.

  2. Content

    Content submitted to SPIE should employ research methods that follow ethical guidelines. Findings and interpretations should be reported fully, accurately, and objectively. Content should include any characterizations of uncertainties. Work presented as original should be novel and/or represent a substantive extension of previously published research. Clear, accurate records that allow for analysis, review, verification, and replication should be maintained.

    Content creators are strongly encouraged to make access possible to their data and methods. Fabrication of data, selective reporting, falsification of results, and manipulation of materials, equipment, or processes with the intent to mislead or deceive is an egregious violation of The Code, as is theft of data or research results from others, or the sabotage of the work of others.

    A set of references that communicates precedents, sources (including a public database), and context of the reported work should be included as appropriate. Any content, including code, data, and other unpublished material, must be appropriately cited, even if obtained from a public database.

  3. Expected Behavior and Responsibilities
    1. Authors and Presenters

      SPIE believes that developing new ideas creates value for society and contributors to this endeavor deserve appropriate recognition for their efforts. Authorship and presentation create a record of attribution and establishes accountability and responsibility with respect to the work In preparing content for submission to SPIE, it is vitally important to respect the contributions of others by properly attributing previous or other work and sharing appropriate credit consistent with academic customs.

      Authorship should be limited to, and should not exclude, those who make a significant or meaningful contribution to a body of work. Those who have not contributed significantly should not be listed as authors. Other individuals who made contributions to the work but are not deemed to be authors should be acknowledged as contributors.

      Every coauthor should have the opportunity to review any submission to SPIE before its submission.

      All authors and contributors must take public responsibility for the full content of their publication, agree to the submission for publication, give prior approval for the final version to be published, and make no substantial changes to a publication after it has been accepted without the agreement of all coauthors and relevant SPIE staff.

      All authors and contributors are responsible for conforming to copyright requirements, appropriate and objective citation of prior and relevant work, and appropriate acknowledgement of supporting contributors.

      Being wrong is ethical provided that errors are promptly acknowledged and corrected when they are detected. All authors have an obligation to work with SPIE to ensure both errata and/or retractions are disclosed and published promptly.

    2. Reviewers

      SPIE aspires to select and publish the highest quality optics and photonics research. To achieve this, the review process must be objective, fair, and thorough.

      Reviewers include, but are not limited to peer reviewers, Press Series Editors, Editors-in Chief, Editorial Board Members of Journals, Symposium/Conference Chairs, and members of conference committees (including organizing and technical program committees, where such committees exist).

      Reviewers must give prompt and unbiased consideration to all content submitted for presentation or publication, judging each object on its merits as a contribution to research and knowledge, based solely on its correctness, importance, originality, clarity, and relevance.

      Reviewers have an obligation to retain confidentiality when reviewing submissions from authors who submit content to SPIE.

      Reviewers must not disclose information about a paper, poster, presentation, book, or manuscript under consideration to anyone other than other members of the relevant editorial team, conference team, or appropriate SPIE staff and volunteers.

      It is a violation of The Code to seek to gain an advantage by means of reviewing the work of others. Privileged information or ideas that are obtained through review must be kept confidential and not used for personal, commercial, or competitive gain.

      Unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations disclosed in a submitted paper, poster, presentation, book or manuscript must not be used in any reviewer’s own work or in any other way except with the consent of the author.

      Reviewers at all levels must never reveal the names of any fellow reviewers without the express permission of the reviewer whose name they are disclosing, as well as the permission of the respective Editor-in-Chief, Press Series Editor, or Conference Chair. 

      Reviewers who feel inadequately qualified or lack the time to judge the research reported in a manuscript will have an ethical obligation to decline the assignment.

      Reviewers of relevant editorial or conference teams presented with convincing evidence that substance or conclusions of a published paper, poster, presentation, or book are erroneous should contact appropriate SPIE staff.

    3. Compliance and Safety of Research

      The research being reported must conform to all relevant requirements of institutions, funding agencies, and laws relevant to where the research was conducted. Requirements may include but are not limited to declaration of funding sources, avoidance of specific hazards, approval for acceptable use of biological materials, acceptable use of animal and human subjects research, including explicit confirmation of informed consent.

    4. Plagiarism

      Plagiarism is the act of presenting another’s ideas, processes, results, or words as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating them into your work without full acknowledgement. Plagiarism includes verbatim or near-verbatim copying, or very close paraphrasing, of text or results from another’s work. Self-plagiarism refers to unacceptably close replication of the author’s own previously published text or results without proper citation.

      It is unethical to author publications describing essentially the same research in more than one journal of primary publication. Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently is unethical.

      Publication in an SPIE journal of an expanded version of an SPIE conference publication (conference proceedings paper, abstract, poster, or recorded conference presentation) does not constitute loss of originality or self-plagiarism.

      SPIE considers plagiarism by authors and contributors in any form, to any degree, to be unethical, unacceptable, and a serious breach of professional conduct. All acts of plagiarism are a violation of the SPIE Code of Conduct. 

      In the absence of explicit special conditions, SPIE applies a “reasonable person” standard in deciding whether a submission constitutes self-plagiarism.

    5. Conflicts of Interest

      Real or perceived conflicts of interest related to participation in any SPIE program or activity should be fully disclosed to the appropriate staff member or volunteer Chair.

      Real or perceived conflicts of interest have the potential to compromise the integrity, reputation, and trustworthiness of individuals, their work, their contribution to SPIE, and to the Society itself. Relevant conflicts are those that would make others feel misled or deceived, or may influence judgement or decision-making, including financial, personal, or professional conflicts.

      Sources of financial support for any project should be acknowledged and disclosed.

    6. Additional Publications Guidelines can be found here:

      SPIE Publications Guidelines


The SPIE Anti-Harassment Policy can be found here:

SPIE Anti-Harassment Policy


This section outlines ways to report potential violations of the SPIE Code of Conduct, the process for evaluating reports, and the consequences for violations.

    1. Reporting Violations of the SPIE Code of Conduct

      Any SPIE Constituent can report potential violations of the SPIE Code of Conduct. Anyone experiencing or witnessing behavior that constitutes an immediate threat to someone's personal safety should dial emergency services (911 in the USA). Potential violations of the SPIE Code of Conduct should be reported through the following channels.

        • The SPIE Reporting Hotline: 1-888-818-6898 or spie.ethicspoint.com
        • Any current SPIE Officer or Director of the Board: Officers are the Treasurer, Vice President, President-Elect, President, or Immediate Past President.
        • Any SPIE staff member at an SPIE event: If a staff member cannot be located on site at an SPIE conference, please go to the Cashier Desk for assistance.
        • Any Editor-in-Chief or Press Series Editor: For publication conduct violations.

      It is difficult for SPIE to act on anonymous reports however, every report will be investigated to the extent possible. SPIE is very sensitive to the potential ramifications of making a report and will maintain the reporter’s confidentiality to the extent possible. SPIE will limit disclosure to investigative bodies and only to the information necessary to ensure proper investigation.

    2. Investigating Complaints

      Depending on the method used to report a potential violation of the Code of Conduct, the complaint will be routed to:

        • Appropriate senior SPIE staff (when immediate action is required, such as meeting disturbances)
        • The Publication Conduct subcommittee (publication violations)
        • The Audit Committee (financial fraud)
        • The CEO (concerns staff or general complaints)
        • The Executive Committee (concerns the CEO)


      If a violation is not directly handled by one of the above methods or if it warrants escalation to a formal investigation, it will be sent to the Executive Committee who will follow the steps listed below.

        1. Charges and Evidence: The Executive Committee will solicit charges and evidence from the reporting individuals.
        2. Review: The Executive Committee will review the submitted materials and decide whether to move forward with the process or dismiss the charges.
        3. Notification: If the Executive Committee decides to move forward with the process, they will notify the accused constituent of the charges against them via registered certified letter and/or encrypted electronic messaging service and provide them 14 days to respond.
        4. Rebuttal: If the accused chooses to appeal the preliminary decision, they may do so in writing to the Executive Committee, with any new, contradictory information that may back up their case, including written statements from others.
        5. Final Decision and Recommendation: The Executive Committee will evaluate the evidence and make findings of fact on the essential points at issue. This process may include speaking with parties with knowledge of the incident, including the reporting individual, the alleged victim (if different from the reporting individual), any known witnesses, and the alleged offender. SPIE may seek other legal or professional counsel as needed prior to recommending a decision and any follow-up actions. The Executive Committee will vote on the decision, they will consider and vote separately on any action to be taken. Revocation of membership requires approval by a two-thirds vote of the SPIE Board.
        6. Notification and Action: The CEO will notify the accused constituent, all reporting parties, and any alleged victims of the decision made by the Executive Committee, including any consequences via commercial courier.
    3. Consequences

      SPIE may take any disciplinary action it deems appropriate in response to a violation of the SPIE Code of Conduct consistent with the Bylaws and applicable law. Consequences may vary from publication of an erratum to suspension or ejection from an SPIE activity or event without warning, refund, or recompense. Serious or repeated offenses may result in more significant consequences such as being banned from participation in future SPIE events or volunteer activities, revocation of SPIE awards and honors, termination of SPIE membership (for a determined period of time or indefinitely), contacting the violator's employer, filing a report with law enforcement, as applicable.

      Only those complaints reported within: (i) Five years of the date of alleged violation; or (ii) five years from when discovery of the alleged violation is first made in circumstances where such discovery could not have reasonably been made sooner through no fault of the complainant, whichever is later, will be considered.

      SPIE will not take any retaliatory action against anyone for raising a good faith conduct concern, for making a good faith report of a potential violation of the Code of Conduct or assisting or cooperating in an investigation into a possible violation. Individuals who believe they have been retaliated against in violation of this provision or who have witnessed or know of such retaliation, should report this information to the SPIE President or the SPIE Reporting Hotline: 1-888-818-6898.

    4. Appeals

      If the constituent found in violation of the SPIE Code of Conduct is not satisfied with the handling of a report, action taken, or consequences, they may bring their concerns to the attention of the SPIE President.


Appendix A:  Process for Policy Changes and Governing body:  Changes to the Code of Conduct can only be made by a majority vote of the SPIE Board of Directors.