These give detailed instructions for laboratory practical work and are usually limited to 2-3 sides to permit convenient use in schools, although they may be supplemented by appendicies, listing suppliers and so on as described below.
The practical protocols will be illustrated by Bioscience Explained staff; if your paper is accepted for publication you may be asked for additional information to help with the illustration. In most cases, protocols will also be classroom-tested by the Journal as part of the review process.
Practical laboratory exercises should include information for use by students and by teachers and technicians under the headings listed below.
Information for students
A concise statement of the purpose of the laboratory exercise, usually in one sentence.
Equipment and materials
A list of equipment and materials required by each student or group of students undertaking the practical work.
A numbered, chronological sequence of instructions for carrying out the practical work. This should include explanations of why particular steps are necessary when the reasons are not immediately apparent.
The Journal will advise readers to make their own safety assessments based on local conditions, so papers are not expected to carry full risk assessments. Please indicate, however, any special safety hazards and the specific precautions necessary to minimise risk. Where general safe laboratory procedures are required it is sufficient to say so. Ethical, etc. concerns If the practical exercise raises any ethical considerations, (e.g., if students are required to take samples of their own DNA) these must be mentioned.
Information for teachers and technicians
Where appropriate, detailed instructions for the preparation of media and reagents should be given. These will be incorporated into a database on the Bioscience Explained Web site, and linked to the article.
Indicate which materials must or can be prepared in advance of the laboratory work e.g., cultures of microorganisms.
An estimate of how long the laboratory activity generally takes, with, where appropriate, details of waiting periods e.g., for incubation of reagents or cultures. Stop points in a procedure may also be indicated.
An indication of what can go wrong, and how such problems can be avoided or diagnosed. Scope for open-ended investigations Where the exercise lends itself to open-ended work by students, please indicate the type of additional investigations that may be carried out.
List the suppliers of special items of equipment and materials together with contact addresses, and web sites (telephone and fax numbers are not required).
Disposal of waste and recycling of materials
Where special disposal arrangements might be necessary e.g., for hazardous chemicals or for microorganisms, this should be indicated. If significant recycling of materials is possible, this should also be indicated.
Storage of materials
Indicate which materials might deteriorate during storage and the steps that can be taken to minimise this.
An indication of the type of results that might be experienced should be given, together with typical data when this is appropriate.
Other sources of information
You may list up to 20 additional sources of information, relevant to the practical work. These may be books, papers in journals or Web sites. They should generally be readily-accessible to readers of the Journal.
Please see the General guidance for details of the preferred form of references.