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Guidelines for Authors: Science and Children

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About Science and Children

Science and Children is an award-winning, peer-reviewed, practitioners' journal for grade PreK–5 teachers, university faculty responsible for teacher preparation, and state and district science supervisors and leaders. Science and Children is published six times a year and is available in print and as an e-journal. Science and Children subscribers are members of the National Science Teaching Association who select it as their preferred journal. We hope you will consider writing a manuscript for Science and Children to interest our readers and enhance preschool and elementary science teaching. NSTA offers no remuneration for published articles.

We seek manuscripts that detail innovative, classroom-tested preschool and elementary school science activities and strategies that demonstrate current research regarding the teaching and learning of science as in the Framework for K–12 Science Education.

Creating a manuscript for Science and Children

Getting Started

To understand the voice, format, and type of articles published in Science and Children, it is strongly recommended that you read a few past issues of the journal.

Each issue of Science and Children is centered on a theme that focuses on practical, timely classroom ideas and strategies that appeal to a preschool and elementary-level audience. A call for papers for upcoming themes can be found at https://www.nsta.org/call-papers-science-and-children. To provide our readers with a broad spectrum of ideas, we also regularly publish articles that are not theme-based. Science and Children also publishes several columns that focus on specific topics. Descriptions of these columns are provided at https://www.nsta.org/call-papers-science-and-children.

Feature articles that describe classroom activities should demonstrate current research regarding the teaching and learning of science as exemplified in the Framework for K–12 Science Education. For example, are students explaining phenomena or designing solutions? Are the three dimensions integrated for both instruction and assessment? Are there opportunities for students to express and clarify their ideas? Is the context relevant and authentic to students?

Manuscripts that describe a classroom activity should also provide the following:

  • content area, grade level, big idea/unit, essential pre-existing knowledge, time required, cost;
  • a description of the phenomena being explored and the sensemaking tasks that students are engaged in as they figure out science and/or design solutions
  • descriptions of how students are doing science and/or engineering through the science and engineering practices (see A Framework for K–12 Science Education)
  • examples of teacher and student interactions and classroom information that demonstrate that your manuscript is an authentic, classroom-tested activity;
  • suggestions for managing the activity, such as monitoring student engagement; and distributing, storing, and disposing of materials and equipment;
  • all aspects of the learning experience from pre-assessment through summative assessment;
  • Word documents of supplemental materials such as worksheets, checklists, assessments, and rubrics that enable the reader to quickly integrate your described activity into their classroom;
  • safety precautions. See NSTA Safety in the Science Classroom, Laboratory, or Field Studies to assist you at static.nsta.org/pdfs/MinimumSafetyPracticesAndRegulations.pdf;
  • support for claims made in the manuscript, including research citations and personal anecdotal evidence.

We do not publish feature articles that:

  • do not reflect current research regarding the teaching and learning of science as exemplified in A Framework for K–12 Science Education
  • have been previously published in either print or digital format (websites, blogs, e-books, etc.);
  • focus on research without providing ample practical details for the classroom application of the research results or ideas;
  • contain material that is not original, or does not provide a unique approach to a classic activity;
  • are strictly opinions, personal reflections, travelogues, or diary-type submissions;
  • are term papers, dissertations, university writing assignments, outlines of lesson or unit plans, lists of ideas, or reviews of literature;
  • promote a commercial product such as materials, books, software, or professional services;
  • do not apply to preschool or elementary (grades PreK–5) science teaching and learning.

Preparing your manuscript

The guidelines for writing and submitting your manuscript can be found below. In addition, you can access the Write From the Start webinar which reviews how to write for one of NSTA’s K–12 journals

  • Our manuscripts go through a double-blind peer-review process. Do not include names or institutions within the text of your manuscript. Do not include a cover sheet that shows your name or any other identifying information. Submit only the blinded version to Manuscript Central.
  • Submit the main body of your manuscript as a Word document (.doc or .docx). If your manuscript is not submitted as a Word document, it will be returned to you—which will delay the review process.
  • Figures, photos, and other graphics must be uploaded as separate files during the submission process (see Supplemental Materials section). Manuscript Central will convert all of the elements into a PDF for our reviewers. The main body of your manuscript should be approximately 2,000 words. References, captions, and other supplementary text are not included in the word count. 
  • You may go over the 2,000 word count if asked to revise your manuscript
  • Your manuscript should be double spaced, use 12-point font and have one-inch margins. Avoid extra formatting of any kind.
  • A 200-word abstract should accompany your submission.
  • References and resources lists should be alphabetized by author and limited to current, readily available items. Cite only the most germane references (try to limit your references to no more than 6). Provide a page number for any direct quote. See previous issues of Science and Children for reference format.

Connecting to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013)

NSTA supports three-dimensional teaching and learning as expressed in the Framework for K–12 Science Education (Framework; NRC 2012). Manuscripts with specific connections to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) are most beneficial to teachers. NSTA recommends that all activity-based lessons/units include a fully completed NGSS chart. See recommendations for NGSS chart inclusion.

  • If your state hasn't yet adopted the NGSS, please visit www.nextgenscience.org to familiarize yourself with the document and see how your manuscript correlates with the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross Cutting Concepts.
  • When describing activity-based lessons, you are asked to use a chart that describes how those articles are correlated to the elements of the dimensions of the NGSS. Please review the following Appendices:
  • Please arrange the NGSS references in a table using the format shown here: sample blank NGSS chart.
  • Additionally, we have an annotated NGSS chart with specifics about completing the chart.
  • In the chart, the classroom connections box should describe what STUDENTS are doing in the article/lesson that is evidence of this element of the dimension.
  • Engineering articles should include a life science, physical science, or earth science standard in addition to an engineering standard.

Supplemental files

Upload the following as separate files rather than embed them in the text of your manuscript. Authors are responsible for permissions for the use of any graphics or photos and for the accuracy of permissions, citations, quotations, figures, and facts used in their manuscripts.

  • Photos of students involved in the work you are describing. Be sure students are participating in a safe manner and have appropriate safety attire. Photos of students should be candid; they should be engaged in the activity, not posing for the camera. If photos of students are used, a signed Model Release Form is required for each identifiable student. Signed forms can be submitted to use after manuscript acceptance. Photos should be high resolution (a minimum of 300 dpi), so please check your camera settings before taking any pictures. You may also include photos of student work (with all identifying information removed), examples of apparatus used, the activity in progress, or images to be used in instruction.
  • Support materials you use to organize your lesson and support students. These include tables, charts, graphs, record sheets, assessments, rubrics, etc. Supplemental materials may be used in the journal article or we may provide a link to them in our Online Connections. Note that these materials will be evaluated by the reviewers.
  • Trade books directly related to the Disciplinary Core Idea(s) presented in your manuscript. These must be scientifically accurate and grade level appropriate. Refer to the trade books in the manuscript text and include them in a Resources section at the end of the manuscript.
  • Author videos and other supplemental multimedia files, which can be posted on our NSTA Connections web page, embedded in the digital edition of the journal, and added to NSTA's YouTube channel. We are interested in audio and video files, slideshows, presentations such as PowerPoint files, Google slides, and other digital resources that enhance your article. You can also provide links to other online resources, such as YouTube videos and educational websites. If you would like to submit a file, please use www.wetransfer.com to upload your file and share it with S&C@nsta.org using the box found on the left of the screen at wetransfer.com (see image at right). Be sure to include your name and the title of your manuscript in the Message box.

A final check before submitting

Many of our authors find it helpful to ask a colleague to read their manuscript prior to submission. Ask them to consider whether you have shared the complete experience and identified the grade level, assessment techniques, safety considerations, and how it aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards.

You might want to share the section "What our reviewers look for" with your colleague. This will help them provide you with valuable input.

Submitting your manuscript

All manuscripts are submitted electronically through Manuscript Central at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/nsta. The first time you enter Manuscript Central you will be asked to set up an account. User-friendly step-by-step submissions directions are given on the website. Make sure you submit a Word document without a cover sheet and with all individual or institution identifiers removed—even on screenshots and in live websites or website addresses.

You will be notified when your manuscript has been successfully posted on Manuscript Central. A notice will also be sent to the Science and Children Field Editor who will first check your manuscript for compliance with the guidelines in the above sections. If no compliance problems are found, your manuscript will be sent to three selected members of the Science and Children Review Panel whose background and expertise match the content of your manuscript. If there are problems with compliance to guidelines, you will be sent a letter detailing what needs to be done before resubmitting your manuscript under the same identification number it was initially given.

Finally, run through this summary of the author guidelines and author checklist to make sure that your manuscript is complete before you submit it. Click here to view.

What our reviewers look for

Reviewers are notified of a review assignment and provide input to the Science and Children Field Editor through Manuscript Central. Reviewers are asked to provide feedback on a set of questions, which you may preview. After the reviews have been received and considered, the Field Editor will take one of the following actions with regards to your manuscript: Accept, Send for Minor Revisions, Send for Major Revisions, Reject with Encouragement to Resubmit, or Reject. You will be sent a detailed letter informing you of the decision. If your manuscript is not rejected, you will have the option of revising it according to the submission directions and reviewers' suggestions contained in the Field Editor's decision letter.

All revised manuscripts are submitted to Manuscript Central, and like the original, must be blinded before being submitted. Once we are in receipt of your revision, it will go through another blind peer review. Reviewers will look for your responses to their suggestions and consider if the manuscript has been revised to meet the format and quality of Science and Children. Please note that the review/revision process may go on for a few rounds.

Upon acceptance

The process is not over when your manuscript is accepted. You will be asked to clarify and provide additional information as the manuscript is reviewed by our editorial team. You will also be asked to update your material; identify the people and institutions you had omitted during the blind review; complete your biography; provide model releases, credits, and captions for photos if you have not done so; and submit other support material you may want to include.

Even if your manuscript was for an issue on a particular theme and then accepted, it may not appear in that issue of Science and Children. Space is limited, and the Field Editor may choose to save your article for a future issue in order to balance the grade level and subject matter of the content presented in the current issue. Articles are typically published within three years of acceptance.

Once your article is published, you will receive five complimentary copies of the issue in which it appeared. NSTA will hold copyright to your manuscript, but our Copyright Transfer Agreement gives authors broad rights to reuse their work as long as the original source material is properly cited.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the submission process, please contact the journal editor by phone or email.

Science and Children
Valynda Mayes, Managing Editor
1840 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201-3000
Phone: 703.312.9234

Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters to the Editor. Letters should be submitted in a timely manner and focus directly on an issue addressed in Science and Children and be validated by reference to research. Limit letters to 300 words. For verification purposes, include writer's name, institutional affiliation, address, and email.

All letters are subject to editing for clarity and space. Writers whose letters are chosen for print will be notified. Authors of articles addressed in Letters to the Editor will be given a chance to respond to the letter writer's comments.

Letters to the Editor should not be submitted through Manuscript Central. Instead, they should be emailed to ebarrettzahn@nsta.org.

 

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