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Instructions for Authors

About CourseSource

Why Publish in CourseSource

Publication Criteria and Types of Articles Published

Editorial Policies

Online Submission Procedure

General Guidelines

Article Specific Guidelines

 

About CourseSource

CourseSource was developed in response to a recommendation in the 2011 report Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education. CourseSource publishes original, peer-reviewed biology teaching and learning resources that:

  • Incorporate student-centered, evidence-based pedagogy
  • Focus on professional society-developed learning goals and objectives
  • Are organized and formatted so that transfer and use in other classrooms is easily done

Because CourseSource articles describe implementations of evidence-based teaching strategies, they do not require substantial evidence concerning the use of specific active learning teaching strategies.

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Why Publish in CourseSource?

CourseSource will provide authors with the opportunity to publish teaching materials in a high-quality format that documents their scholarly teaching efforts, accomplishments and innovations. Authors will retain copyright to their materials, through a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License, and currently pay no page charges.

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Publication Criteria and Types of Articles Published in CourseSource

CourseSource publishes original works centered on scholarly teaching. Authors are required to give full details on previous or duplicate publication of content of the resource, as previous publication does not automatically preclude publication in CourseSource. In the cover letter, please include a reference or URL for any document that might be considered a previous publication. 

CourseSource publishes the following types of articles:

Lessons: peer-reviewed articles that describe innovative classroom activities or laboratory exercises for teaching undergraduate biology. Lessons describe pedagogical approaches to address learning goals and objectives in a way that actively engages students. Published Lessons must be “field-tested,” i.e., have been taught by the authors and contain detailed instructions and supporting materials that allow implementation by other biology educators.

Science Behind the Lesson: peer-reviewed articles that summarize scientific topics related to a submitted or published Lesson. Science Behind the Lesson articles should expand upon and explain a particular topic so that an educator can rapidly learn or review background information that is needed to understand and teach the related Lesson.

Teaching Tools and Strategies: peer-reviewed resources and strategies that are of broad interest to the biology education community. The subject matter could include topics such as how to use a survey to facilitate group formation; use of a particular application to facilitate student interaction; a syllabus example from a Learning Goal and Objective oriented course; etc.

Reviews: peer-reviewed articles that examine, evaluate, critique, and/or appraise topics, tools or materials that are of broad interest to the biology education community. Reviews can focus on: MOOCs, TedTalks, iTunesU lectures, etc.; Books; Articles; Applications; Tools; Events such as workshops or meetings; Websites; or any other materials/tools of interest to undergraduate biology educators. Published Reviews must be about topics that have been “field-tested,” i.e., have been used in the classroom one or more times by the authors, except if the Review topic is an event. It is acceptable to review commercial products.

Essays: peer-reviewed perspectives concerning topics or challenges that are of broad interest to the biology education community. The subject matter should be presented within a scholarly and/or personal context, citing references and resources that address the topic.

Announcements: editor-reviewed, noncommercial notices or news of interest to CourseSource readers. Examples include meetings, workshops, conferences, funding opportunities, and fellowships that are “open access” to all qualified applicants.

Guidelines for each article type can be found below and in the Instructions for Authors document.

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Editorial Policies

Informed Consent:

The use of human subjects or other animals for research purposes is regulated by the federal government and individual institutions. Manuscripts containing information related to human or animal research will not be considered unless they clearly state that the research has complied with all relevant federal and institutional policies.

Funding and Competing Interests:

Conflict of interest exists when an author, reviewer, or editor has financial, personal, or professional relationships that could inappropriately bias or compromise his or her actions. Presence of absence of perceived conflicts must be addressed with a Conflict of Interest Notification statement on the manuscript’s title page. Sources of outside support for the creation of the resource must be named in the contributed manuscript.

Authorship:

All authors should have contributed directly to, been involved in drafting and revising, and approve the final article.

Style Guidelines:

CourseSource follows the style guidelines of the Council of Science Editors (CSE) Style Manual. Reference list formatting follows the guidelines of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) citation style.

CourseSource Style criteria include:

Simplicity, Clarity, and Readability

  • Use sentences that are less than three lines long where possible.
    • Minimize the number of clauses in a sentence.
    • Minimize the number of phrases in a sentence that contain words such as “of” or “that.”
  • Keep the subject and verb of the sentence close to each other.
  • Use the least complicated words possible.

Active Voice

  • Use active voice unless passive voice is essential for meaning.

First and second person and Imperatives

  • Use a conversational tone that includes “I,” “we,” and “you.”
    • Example: “We liked how students responded to the challenge we posed.”
  • Use direct instructions.
    • Example: “Do not hand out the second page until students have turned in the first page.”

Replicability

  • Include step-by-step instructions for teacher and student preparation for the Lesson, and for the materials, resources, and information needed to teach the Lesson.

Copyright:

The authors must affirm that they either own the copyright to or have received written permission to use the text, figures, tables, artwork, abstract, summaries, and supporting materials. CourseSource applies the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License to all publications. Under this license, authors retain ownership of the copyright to their article, but allow anyone to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute and/or copy the article, as long as the original authors and source are cited. No permission is required from the authors or the publishers for these uses of the published materials.

Peer Review Procedure:

All article types are subject to peer review. Authors will submit their manuscripts through the online system at http://coursesource.msubmit.net/. Upon submission, the manuscript goes through an initial quality check by the managing editor or Editor-in-Chief to ensure that the article fits within the scope of CourseSource and has all required elements. After passing the initial check, the article is then assigned to the appropriate Course Editor (e.g. Genetics, Microbiology, etc.), who then assigns two reviewers to read and review the manuscript. Next, reviewer comments are sent to the Course Editor for collation and review. The Course Editor will then make a recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief whether to accept or reject the article. Based on the extensiveness of the suggested revisions, the article will be accepted with minor revisions, sent back through peer-review after major revisions or rejected. Once the manuscript is accepted, it will be sent to a Senior Editor who will provide copy editing and may suggest final changes to the authors.

Editorial Review Procedure:  

Announcements will be editorially reviewed. Please send a word file (.doc, .docx, .rtx) to the managing editor at coursesourceeditor@gmail.com.

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Online Submission Procedure

All CourseSource submissions will be made through the online submission and peer-review site http://coursesource.msubmit.net/.

  • Create a user account: To register a brand new account, click the "New Users: Please Register Here" link on the home page. You will be asked to enter your Last Name, Email address, and Telephone Number so that the system may first determine if an account already exists for you. If the system determines you already have an account, your login name and a new, temporary password will be automatically emailed to you. If you need further assistance, please contact CourseSource staff directly at coursesourceeditor@gmail.com.

If the system does not find an existing account in the database, you will be directed to the registration screen where you can enter in your personal information and choose a login name and password. You may log in immediately after creating your new account. You will also receive an email with your selected login information.

  • Preparing to submit: Collect the following information before submission to aid in the process:
    • Author Information:
      • First and Last names (All Authors)
      • Institutions (All Authors)
      • Job Titles (All Authors)
      • Postal Address (Corresponding Author)
      • Work Telephone Numbers (Corresponding Author)
      • Email Addresses (All Authors)
    • Manuscript Title
    • Manuscript Abstract
    • Manuscript Files:
      • Main text, figures, images and supporting materials (all in acceptable formats).
  • Submission process: There are four steps to the submission process: Files, Manuscript Information, Validate, and Submit.
    • Files: This step guides authors through the file upload, description and order process. A PDF will be generated of all applicable uploaded files for the manuscript.
    • Manuscript Information: This step requires the following information from the authors:
      • Title and Abstract
      • Author Information
      • Metadata: a unique advantage of CourseSource is the ability to search for and filter articles by a plethora of criteria. The majority of criteria are assigned to each article at this point in the submission process.
      • Detailed Information
      • Author Reviewer Suggestions
    • Validate: This step will go over and ask for approval for all the files and information gathered for the submission.
    • Submit: This is the final step of the submission process where the manuscript is first reviewed for any missing information and then officially submitted to CourseSource.

Steps from Author Submission to Publication

  • The Author submits a manuscript.
  • The Managing Editor assigns a Course Editor, based on the biological discipline of the manuscript.
  • The Managing Editor also assigns Reviewers to the manuscript.
  • The Managing Editor contacts Potential Reviewers via e-mail.
  • Potential Reviewers can Accept/Decline the request.
  • Additional reviewers are assigned as needed so that each manuscript receives at least two peer reviews.
  • The Reviewers review the manuscript using the review rubric for the article type.
  • The Course Editor summarizes the reviews and recommends a decision. Articles often go through multiple rounds of revision before they are accepted.
  • Once the Course Editor finishes with the revision process, the Editor-in-Chief makes the final decision.
  • Once the manuscript is accepted, a Senior Editor provides copy editing and may make suggestions for final edits to the authors.
  • PDF proofs are sent to authors for final approval prior to publication.
  • Article is assigned a DOI number and published on coursesource.org.

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General Guidelines

These guidelines apply to all CourseSource article formats. Guidelines for specific article types are found below.

  1. Article Templates:  Microsoft Word templates are provided for each article type.  To ensure appropriate formatting, authors must enter their manuscript text into the appropriate CourseSource article template.  The templates contain extensive descriptions of what should be included in each section of the article and automatically format the document for publication.  The use of the template aids in uploading the information from the text files into the website.
  2. Document Format: The text of the article should be double-spaced, in 11-point Times New Roman or Cambria font or equivalent, and employ italics rather than underlining (except in the case of URL addresses). Please number all pages and lines in the document. Figures and tables should not be included in the text document, but rather provided as separate documents.
  3. Links to Online Materials: All URL addresses in the text should be activated and ready to click.
  4. Figures: Figure files should be uploaded individually and provided as TIFF, JPEG, or EPS images at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. PowerPoint files will not be accepted for figures.
  5. Tables: Table files should be uploaded individually and provided as a word document using the provided Table Template.
  6. Primary Image: Authors must submit a primary image that will be associated with the submitted article when it is displayed on the CourseSource website. Primary image file should be uploaded individually and provided as TIFF or EPS images at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi.
  • For a tutorial on converting PowerPoint files using Adobe Illustrator, please visit http://art.cadmus.com/da/howto/creating_ai_eps_excell.jsp.
  • Another useful tutorial on creating EPS and TIFF files can be found at http://art.cadmus.com/da/index.jsp.
  • Prepare figures and tables at the size they are to be published:
    • Up to 1 column wide: width 4.23 – 8.47 cm
    • 1 to 1.5 columns wide: width 10.16 – 11.43 cm
    • 2 columns wide: width 14.39 – 17.57 cm
    • Physical length must be less than or equal to 23.5 cm
  1. Rich Media: Rich media files such as videos, audio clips, animations, slideshows and interactive diagrams should be submitted as AVI, WMV, MOV, or MP4 files.  If a desired file type is not included here, please email coursesourceeditor@gmail.com.
  2. Supporting Materials: Supporting materials can be submitted in any format mentioned above and titled "Supporting File S1, S2, S3," etc.

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Article Specific Guidelines

Below, you will find specific guidelines for each article type published by CourseSource.

Lesson Manuscripts Guidelines:

CourseSource Lessons represent peer-reviewed, innovative classroom activities or laboratory exercises for teaching undergraduate biology that:

  • Address one or more Learning Goals, if applicable include Learning Goals outlined by the participating Professional Societies (https://www.coursesource.org/courses).
  • Represent scientific teaching approaches (i.e., applying principles of how people learn, inclusive teaching strategies, active learning, and assessment).
  • Are field tested (i.e., have been used in a classroom situation).

The Lesson should provide sufficiently detailed instructions and supporting materials so that knowledgeable readers could implement or adapt the Lesson for their classrooms. The Lesson manuscript should also suggest modifications and extensions to allow easy implementation by a broad range of faculty in undergraduate biology education.

  1. Acceptance criteria for Lesson Manuscripts: Reviewers will use a rubric to guide their assessment of a manuscript. Authors are highly encouraged to review the Lesson rubric prior to submission.
  2. Length of Lesson Manuscript: Approximately 4,000 words, excluding references and supporting materials. The length is provided as a guide; where appropriate, longer submissions will be published.
  3. Template for Lesson Manuscript Preparation: Download the Lesson Template that includes format guidelines and a detailed description of the information needed in a Lesson Manuscript.

A Lesson article submission checklist can be found on page 6 of the Instructions for Authors document.

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Science Behind the Lesson Manuscripts Guidelines:

Science Behind the Lesson (SBL) Manuscripts are peer-reviewed summaries of scientific topics that are related to a submitted or published Lesson. SBL articles expand upon and explain a particular scientific topic in more depth, so that instructors can rapidly learn or review information needed to understand and implement the related Lesson.

  1. Acceptance criteria for SBL Manuscripts: Reviewers will use a rubric to guide their assessment of a manuscript. Authors are highly encouraged to review the rubric prior to submission.
  2. Length of SBL Manuscripts: Approximately 4,000 words, excluding references and supporting materials. The length is provided as a guide; where appropriate, longer submissions will be published.
  3. Template for SBL Manuscript Preparation: Download the SBL Template that includes format guidelines and a detailed description of the information needed in an SBL Manuscript.

A Science Behind the Lesson article submission checklist can be found on page 7 of the Instructions for Authors document.

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Teaching Tools and Strategies Manuscripts Guidelines:

Teaching Tools and Strategies are peer-reviewed articles about how to use a tool or strategy to improve student learning or examples of the use of such tools or strategies in action.

  1. Acceptance criteria for Teaching Tools and Strategies Manuscripts: Reviewers will use a rubric to guide their assessment of a manuscript. Authors are highly encouraged to review the rubric prior to submission.
  2. Length of Teaching Tools and Strategies Manuscripts: Approximately 2,000 words, excluding references and supporting materials. The length is provided as a guide; where appropriate, longer submissions will be published.
  3. Template for Teaching Tools and Strategies Manuscript Preparation: Download the Teaching Tools and Strategies Template that includes format guidelines and a detailed description of the information needed in a Teaching Tools and Strategies Manuscript.

A Teaching Tools and Strategies article submission checklist can be found on page 8 of the Instructions for Authors document.

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Review Manuscripts Guidelines:

Review manuscripts are peer-reviewed analyses/evaluation/critiques/recommendations regarding topics, tools or materials that are of broad interest to the biology education community. Reviews may focus on:

  • MOOCs, TedTalks, iTunesU Lectures, etc.
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Applications (Apps) and other computer- or web-based tools
  • Events such as workshops or meetings
  • Websites
  • Other materials/tools of interest
  1. Acceptance criteria for Review Manuscripts: Reviewers will use a rubric to guide their assessment of a manuscript. Authors are highly encouraged to review the rubric prior to submission.
  2. Length of Review Manuscripts: Approximately 3,000 words, excluding references and supporting materials. The length is provided as a guide; where appropriate, longer submissions will be published.
  3. Template for Review Manuscript Preparation: Download the Review Template that includes format guidelines and a detailed description of the information needed in a Review Manuscript.

A Review article submission checklist can be found on page 9 of the Instructions for Authors document.

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Essay Manuscripts Guidelines:

Essays are peer-reviewed articles about topics or challenges that are of broad interest to the biology education community. The subject matter should be presented within a scholarly and/or personal context, citing references and resources that address the topic.

  1. Acceptance criteria for Essay Manuscripts: Reviewers will use a rubric to guide their assessment of a manuscript. Authors are highly encouraged to review the rubric prior to submission.
  2. Length of Essay Manuscripts: Approximately 2,000 words, excluding references and supporting materials. The length is provided as a guide; where appropriate, longer submissions will be published.
  3. Template for Essay Manuscript Preparation: Download the Essay Template that includes format guidelines and a detailed description of the information needed in an Essay Manuscript.

An Essay article submission checklist can be found on page 10 of the Instructions for Authors document.

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Announcement Guidelines:

Announcements are submitted by emailing the managing editor (coursesourceeditor@gmail.com).  Announcements are editor-reviewed, noncommercial announcements of meetings, workshops and conferences, funding opportunities, fellowships, and other opportunities that are of interest to the undergraduate biology education community.

  1. Length of Announcements: Generally, around 300 words, excluding references and supporting materials. The length is provided as a guide; where appropriate, longer submissions will be published.
  2. Link to More Information: When appropriate, include a link to more information pertaining to the subject of the announcement.

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