Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) protocols are common for both procedures on animals and other general procedures, like how to operate the local autoclave or lab safety with radioactive substances. It is a to-do list in correct order.

By using a Directly Observed Practical Skills (DOPS) protocol, we can objectively assess competence in performing a procedure defined by a SOP, in a clear and consistent way. This approach relies on using DOPS forms (several examples of which will soon be made available on this website) which are score sheets with a predefined set of criteria for evaluating  the level of competence in performing a SOP.

How do DOPS sheets look like?

Examples from EC Education & Training Guidance Document

The European Commission Education & Training Framework Guidance Document provides two simple examples of DOPS sheets to evaluate competence in practical skills, which can be found in its Appendix 3.

(click here for Appendix 3 of the Guidance Document – the DOPS sheets are found in the final two pages)


The following DOPS sheets were developed to be used as examples by a Working Group chaired by Lucy Whitfield with members Andreia Costa, Eirini Fragiadaki, Rafael Frias, Brian Mphandre and Paul West, as part of the ETPLAS Pilot Project “Promoting alternatives to animal testing through accessible and harmonised education & training” made possible by funding from the European Parliament Grant No. 07.027741/2018/794340/ SUB/ENV.B2.

ETPLAS allows free access to these DOPS examples on this website. The examples are open for refinement and adaptation to the specific needs of the evaluators and the procedural skills to be evaluated. The DOPS examples include two different models, each reflecting distinct approaches – which may however be complimentary – to the evaluation of procedural skills:

DOPS – Model 1

These DOPS sheets allow for an intuitive and practical approach to direct observation and evaluation of procedural skills. However, they are not as comprehensive as Model 2 DOPS shown below, nor they provide guidance on the level of supervision required for each level of competence of the traineers

DOPS Model 2

The approach of Model 2 DOPS 2 is centred on the level of supervision that a trainee requires, having a more detailed description of what level of oversight is required for each supervision level, from “Beginner” to “Competent”. It is a more comprehensive approach, which covers procedure-specific assessment criteria divided into 2-3 items, while also contemplating “professional behaviours”.

The following video, by Lucy Whitfield (ETPLAS Pilot Project WG 4 leader) gives an introduction to DOPS, and details how Model 2 DOPS sheets can be used. If you cannot see it on this page, register to our webpage, or follow this link.