The Bicycle Principles – CSCCE collaborators, community members, and staff consider short form training best practices

In a new publication, which came out in November in PLOS ONE, CSCCE community of practice member Jason Williams (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory), Rochelle Trachtenberg (Georgetown University), and co-authors describe the Bicycle Principles for short form trainings in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine), as well as a series of recommendations for their successful implementation. 

The work is an output from a conference that took place at CSHL’s Banbury Center and online in May of 2022. The conference convened 30 experts in short form training, including CSCCE’s Director Lou Woodley and several collaborators and members of our community of practice: Melissa Burke (Australian Biocommons), Allissa Dillman (NIH Office of Data Science Strategy), Maria Doyle (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre), Christina Hall (Australian Biocommons), Kate Hertweck (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative), Kari Jordan (The Carpentries), Lisanna Paladin (EMBL Heidelberg), Tracy Teal (RStudio, now Posit).

In this blog post, we offer a short overview of the Bicycle Principle and associated recommendations, but for more detail, please download the paper and check out

The Bicycle Principles

Short form training is one of the main ways that researchers and practitioners in STEMM stay up to date with new technologies and techniques. For example, the last 10 years has seen a rapid change in the computational tools available to life scientists. Without access to ongoing trainings, researchers wouldn’t have the opportunity to upskill as needed. 

However, it’s not always clear, as a potential participant, which short form trainings are effective. Such trainings encompass a diverse array of topics, formats, and trainers, with little to no standardization. And many trainings have failed to support the full participation of all their learners by not being accessible to all. The Bicycle Principles aim to address these issues by offering a framework in which organizers can operate. 

The principles are divided into two categories (the two wheels of the bicycle), and are shared here under a CC BY license. 

Core Principles

All short-format training should…

  1. Use Best Evidence; grounded in findings from the education sciences and formally evaluated instruction.
  2. Be Effective; provide evidence (i.e., from assessment, evaluation) to learners that they have made progress in achieving programmatic and learning goals.
  3. Be Inclusive; maximize the ability of all learners to participate in and benefit from the learning experience.
  4. Promote Catalytic learning; prepare learners to succeed when the application of knowledge, skills, and abilities requires further self-directed study.

Community Principles 

These apply when short-format training is organized by communities (e.g., institutions, organizations, professional societies) to achieve their objectives.

Communities increase the impact of short-format by working to…

  1. Reach: include new types and larger audiences of learners.
  2. Scale: increase delivery of short-format training by new groups and larger numbers of instructors and instructional developers.
  3. Sustain: work to maintain the availability, usability, relevance, and reliability of learning materials as well as supporting the supporting infrastructures, trainers, and communities which enable effective and inclusive training.

Recommendations for implementation

In order to have an effect, the Bicycle Principles need to be adopted by trainers, organizations, and institutions, and advocated for by learners. Those at the Banbury Center conference created a set of 14 recommendations to be implemented at the grass roots level by instructors, those convening communities, and those hosting and funding short form training solutions. These included professionalizing the training of short form instructors, integrating equity and inclusion as essential, and ensuring that trainings are evaluated. 


Jason J. Williams, Rochelle E. Tractenberg, Bérénice Batut, Erin A. Becker, Anne M. Brown, Melissa L. Burke, Ben Busby, Nisha K. Cooch, Allissa A. Dillman, Samuel S. Donovan, Maria A. Doyle, Celia W. G. van Gelder, Christina R. Hall, Kate L. Hertweck, Kari L. Jordan, John R. Jungck, Ainsley R. Latour, Jessica M. Lindvall, Marta Lloret-Llinares, Gary S. McDowell, Rana Morris, Teresa Mourad, Amy Nisselle, Patricia Ordóñez, Lisanna Paladin, Patricia M. Palagi, Mahadeo A. Sukhai, Tracy K. Teal, Louise Woodley. (2023) An international consensus on effective, inclusive, and career-spanning short-format training in the life sciences and beyond. PLOS ONE 18(11): e0293879.