Research at the CFN is organized into three four-month-long work cycles each year: January-April, May-August, and September-December.Users submit new proposals three months before the first cycle in which they plan to start their work. (For example, if a user would like to start work during the May-August cycle, he/she must submit his/her proposal by January 31).Once reviewed and approved, CFN proposals are valid for two years (or six consecutive cycles).The entire time between the initial submission of a proposal at the submission deadline and the time of notification of acceptance of a proposal is approximately ten weeks. Users need to submit a Request for Additional Time for each cycle that they need access.The deadline for submitting a request for additional time is six weeks before the start of each cycle.If the research demands access to CFN beyond the two-year period of the proposal, a new proposal must be submitted for full external review by the PRP or the PPRP.
Prior to submitting a proposal, potential Users are encouraged to contact the appropriate Facility Leaders to discuss the feasibility of the proposed work. If a potential User requests Capabilities that are provided by multiple Facilities, the work will be reviewed for feasibility by each Facility that is involved. During these discussions, Facility Leaders or their designees determine if the research is compatible with current Facilities and Expertise, and whether the proposed research can be conducted within the existing Experimental Safety Reviews (ESRs).
Proposals are submitted, reviewed, and allocated through the CFN’s Online Proposal System.
The online proposal form requires the user to:
General User proposals are reviewed for feasibility by the CFN’s Facility Leaders to ensure that the CFN has the resources and the expertise to perform the project. If proposals pass feasibility, they are assigned a minimum of three reviewers from the CFN’s PRP or PPRP. The PRP/PPRP consists of scientists and industrial researchers with expertise in areas related to nanoscience and who have no affiliation with BNL. Potential members to the PRP/PPRP are invited by the CFN Assistant Director, based on nominations and suggestions by Facility Leaders. All members of the PRP/PPRP serve two year terms. Reviewers are assigned with the help of the online proposal system, based on keywords provided by the User on the proposal. When reviewer assignments have been completed, the User Administrator activates the reviews, which sends an automated email to the PRP/PPRP members, notifying them that the proposals are ready for their review. For each proposal, the reviewers are asked to provide the following: a numerical score for scientific merit, technical feasibility, capability of the proposal’s team to conduct their research at the CFN, and brief comments to justify scores and recommendation. These assessments are based on the following questions posed to the Reviewers; the weight that each question has on the overall score is indicated in parentheses:
Both proprietary and non-proprietary proposals are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the highest rating and 5 being the lowest). Approximate connotations of the numerical values are as follows:
Reviewers are asked to submit their reviews within two weeks of their receiving the email that proposals are ready for their review.
The rank order of scores generated by the review process is the primary input in the allocation of facility access to General Users. The PRP/PPRP also provides feedback to the investigators on the quality, strength, and possible weakness of the proposals. Proposals with ratings between four and five are automatically declined and do not receive facility time. The User will receive written notification from the User Administration of the rating and the decision whether they were granted access to the CFN facilities, with comments from the reviewers. For those proposals that were not favorably reviewed and did not receive allocation of facility time, the proposers are encouraged to submit a revised proposal for the next cycle, addressing the reviewers’ concerns and recommendations.
The Facility Leaders/Coordinators or their designees allocate facility time to both new proposals and requests for additional facility time. The amount of facility time allocated depends on the rating of the proposal relative to other proposals, on equipment availability, and on demonstrated progress from previous cycles (if applicable). After the allocation process is complete, the PI receives an email notification of the Facilities/Capabilities/Resources that were allocated, their CFN Point-of-Contact, and the number of days/sessions/shifts allocated for the cycle. The PI is asked to communicate with their Point-of-Contact to schedule facility time.