DCCEM Rules & Regulations

We have some simple rules about using the Facility, microscope booking and working safely in the EM Facility, particularly out-of-hours.

These rules apply to the David Cockayne Centre (DCCEM) in the Holder Building, Parks Rd and the equipment provided by the DCCEM facilities in the Hirsch Building on the Begbroke Science Park.

New users of the DCCEM must sign a copy of the User Agreement before starting their work or training within DCCEM.



Users must adhere to all Health and Safety rules. There is a section on Safety and Security on the Department website.  Additional local rules are covered during your training or available in the red folder outside the labs.  Users are responsible for completion of all appropriate COSHH and Risk Assessment documentation prior to usage of DCCEM facilities.

Food and drink may not be taken into any part of the DCCEM.

Children under 16 are not allowed into microscope areas, unless given permission by The Director of the DCCEM.

Liquid Nitrogen - Liquid nitrogen is provided for use within the DCCEM only and is monitored by staff. Do not attempt to use liquid nitrogen without training from DCCEM staff. Users must follow all training guidelines including the use of PPE – see Graham Wyatt for training.  Users must not decant LN2 for use by others unless pre-authorised by Neil Young.

Sample Preparation - Access to sample preparation facilities is available during working hours and subject to users being approved to use the equipment. Users must abide by the Sample Preparation Lab Rules. Contact Ian Griffiths for details.

Out of Hours - Only those users authorised to work out of hours (see below) may access equipment outside of normal working hours (9am-5pm Monday to Friday). If you work out-of-hours, inform someone where you are. When working out-of-hours, never attempt new procedures with equipment, work only within your training and experience.  A sign-in/sign-out whiteboard is provided within the DCCEM to be used during out of hours sessions.

Headphones or other distractions such as laptops, playing videos etc, are not allowed to be used in the DCCEM at any time.


These rules are designed to help users access a fair share of time on a microscope. No rules are perfect, so we also ask people to use common sense and courtesy:

To operate any instrument, you must have received appropriate instruction. We have two different levels of users for any microscope which are instrument specific. User status does not commute between instruments.

Approved (A) - users have completed their basic training. They may book the instrument alone during normal working hours, which are weekdays from 9am to 5pm (not including public holidays). Users may operate the instruments within the bounds of their training only.  Operation of instruments on behalf of others (e.g. other research group members or friends) is not permitted unless pre-authorised by the DCCEM staff.

Out of Hours (O) - trusted and experienced users who have the privilege of using the instruments outside of normal working hours, including weekends. These users will have will have used the instrument many times and proved themselves to be productive, efficient and safe users of the instrument.  This status is grated at the discretion of the relevant support scientist.

If you haven't used an instrument for a prolonged period (around 6 months), we may downgrade your status, depending on your level of experience. 

Time-keeping - Please start your session promptly. Sessions not taken up within 15 minutes of the scheduled start will be offered to other users, and charges may still stand. 

Do plan your work in advance, so samples are suitably prepared in time and avoid speculative bookings ("I may have a sample ready by then"). Do try to use the microscopes as efficiently as possible, as the instruments are heavily subscribed. 

Cancellations - Please give as much notice of a cancellation as possible. If you cannot use a booked session, please (i) send message to the relevant instrument email list (ii) cancel your entry on the booking system (or ask DCCEM staff to cancel it for you) (iii) if necessary, tell the person using the microscope before your cancelled session that they need to shutdown or apply an ACD heater. Users may be billed if insufficient notice is given.

Unallocated sessions - If there are free sessions or cancellations on an instrument within the following 24 hours users may book and use that free session even if they already have booked their full allocation.

Training bookings - Those training new users should book sessions in the name of the trainee with the appropriate cost centre information included, and the trainer's name in the booking notes. New users are expected to research the technique they are to use prior to their first training session.  This will be checked prior to the session start and training rescheduled if necessary.

Restrictions for booking particular instruments are found at the top of each instrument's page on the online booking system. Extra bookings beyond the allowed limit may be authorised in advance by DCCEM Staff. Authorisation will appear in the booking notes. 

Book only for yourself - Do not book with your name in order that someone else can take that session. Bookings must be made for projects already approved by DCCEM staff.

Conduct - A user who books a session is wholly responsible for that booking, including any reckless damage or inappropriate usage during that session.  In rare cases where this occurs it is followed up and repair costs recharged to the users research group.

Finishing a session Users should leave the microscope in an appropriate condition, as outlined during your training, and the lab in a tidy state.  They should also check whether someone has booked the following session on the instrument, should this alter the preferred standard conditions.


You must make an entry in the instrument logbook at the start of sessions when you use an instrument; giving a brief note about the work done, samples used, detectors used etc and any problems encountered.

Always report all faults immediately. Please make a note in the logbook and by e-mail to em-faults@maillist.ox.ac.uk. If a fault occurs during working hours, ask for help. If a fault occurs out-of-hours, the main thing is to leave the microscope secure and safe, and report the fault immediately.

Specimens - Always use the provided gloves when loading specimens and handling anything else that goes into the microscope. Leave the room clean and tidy.

Samples must be clearly labelled and not stored in the DCCEM facility. The DCCEM take no responsibility for the safekeeping of samples.

No modifications may be carried out on any equipment without explicit approval from the relevant Support Scientist or DCCEM Management.  This includes use of non-standard holders, sample stubs and specimen stages. Sample holders must remain with their designated instruments and must not be moved between microscopes.

If you would like to modify or develop aspects of the instrument or customise sample holders, you must discuss your plans with the relevant Support Scientist at an early stage.

Computers - Desktop computers in the microscope rooms are classified as part of the microscope, and consequently you should not interfere with the connections on the PC. Users must not use USB sticks/portable hard drives for transfer of data.  All PCs are connected to networked storage drives for short term storage of data (Z drive on windows PCs, more information see the DCCEM - IT section) which is where you may store your data prior to transfer. User data should not be stored on microscope computers. If you have any issues with the PCs or software queries, please consult a member of the DCCEM staff.

Group purchased non-standard consumables, sample stubs and holders etc should be approved by EM facility staff before use.

Do not carry out major alignments or adjustments outside of the training you have been given.

Acknowledgment and co-authorship:  All users who publish data derived from usage of the DCCEM must acknowledge this in their publications.  The acknowledgement text may be found in the DCCEM Fair Attribution Policy along with guidelines for co-authorship. 

Never be afraid to ask for help. During working hours, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, there is generally a member of the DCCEM staff on hand at Parks Road and at Begbroke. You can usually find them either in the labs, their offices or by following instructions on the white board in the facility. A drop in session is held every week during term time, where general EM questions and projects can be discussed with EM Staff.

User Conduct:  DCCEM staff hope that these rules are common sense and simple to follow. We aim for a friendly professional environment, however multiple instances of rule-breaking will lead to sanctions on access to the DCCEM to be fair to all involved in the shared facility. We normally hope to resolve such instances informally, however failing this the formal procedure is as follows:

  • 1st formal sanction:  Formal written warning, copied to supervisor, 
  • 2nd formal sanction:  2 week exclusion from DCCEM, 
  • 3rd formal sanction: Discussion with HoD regarding permanent exclusion. 

Finally, if you've got suggestions or complaints, please bring them to the attention of DCCEM Facility Staff.




Neil Young, Manager, DCCEM

Gareth Hughes, Deputy Manager, DCCEM                                     September 2018