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User Guide | Applying for Beam Time
Guide to Proposal Types
NSLS-II operates in three 4-month cycles and all beam time is requested each cycle through the web-based Proposal Allocation, Safety, and Scheduling System (PASS) system. In this system, a beam time proposal describes the scientific experiments to be performed and identifies the experimental team. Proposals have different durations depending upon the type of proposal submitted. For any proposal that has a duration of more than one cycle, a beam time request (BTR) must be submitted for every cycle that a user requests beam time. Every beam time request also requires a Safety Approval Form, which is also submitted through the PASS system once beam time is allocated.
There are a number of modes of access for beam time at NSLS-II, which are described in detail below. However, they all follow a common life cycle that involves the following steps: proposal submission, feasibility evaluation, peer-review, allocation of beam time, scheduling, carrying out the work, and reporting the results.
General User (GU) Proposals
Most proposals requesting beam time at NSLS-II are GU proposals. General User (GU) proposals are for scientists that require beam time on beamlines that routinely support the technique needed for their experiment. For GU experiments, users often bring only samples, but can also provide custom instrumentation for the duration of their experiments. General User proposals are valid for one year (3 beam time cycles). Up to 3 beamlines and 2 CFN instruments (.pdf) may be requested on a General User proposal. If a proposal is allocated beam time, it will also receive time on the CFN instrument(s), subject to feasibility review and sufficient availability. Each proposal requests a lifetime number of 8-hour shifts to complete the work for each beamline requested. For each cycle that a user requests beam time, he/she must submit a beam time request (BTR) against their GU proposal. These proposals are peer-reviewed and allocated by the NSLS-II Proposal Review Panel. All GU proposals are considered active until either: (a) all beam time allocated to the proposal for its lifetime has been used, (b) the proposal is withdrawn, or (c) one year has elapsed. All users submitting a GU proposal are encouraged to contact the beamline staff prior to submission. All GU proposals and BTRs should be submitted through the web-based Proposal Allocation, Safety, and Scheduling System (PASS) system. Users may find the GU Proposal template (.docx) handy for writing their proposal and then copying/pasting the information into PASS.
Rapid Access (RA) Proposals
Rapid Access (RA) proposals are specifically for rapid access to beam time for “hot topics” or for straightforward experiments using routine techniques with a fast turnaround time. Rapid Access proposals are valid for one beam time cycle and typically request a very small amount of beam time on one beamline. These proposals are peer-reviewed and allocated by the NSLS-II Proposal Review Panel with a 1-2 week turnaround time prior to running the experiments. (Proposals are not reviewed retroactively.) Any user submitting a RA proposal must contact the beamline staff prior to submission to ensure that beam time is available and that the proposal complies with the RA criteria. All RA proposals should be submitted through the web-based Proposal Allocation, Safety, and Scheduling System (PASS) system. Users may find the RA Proposal template (.docx) handy for writing their proposal and then copying/pasting the information into PASS. At this point, RA proposals are only accepted on the following beamlines at NSLS-II: 7-BM (QAS), 8-ID (ISS), 11-BM (CMS), 12-ID (SMI), 16-ID (LiX), 17-ID-1 (AMX), 17-ID-2 (FMX), 17-BM (XFP), 19-ID (NYX), and 21-ID (ESM).
Block Allocation Groups (BAGs)
Block Allocation Groups (BAGs) are a mode of beam time access at NSLS-II intended for groups of researchers that want to combine their short beam time requests into a single proposal in order to permit greater flexibility in beam time allocation and scheduling. BAG proposals may be motivated by shared scientific interest, geographical location, affiliation, common experimental setup, or other synergistic reasons. Combining the beam time of individual groups permits greater flexibility in the choice of projects and samples during a given allocation period and offers the individuals in the BAGs the benefit of access to more regular allocation of beam time. The term of a BAG proposal is 2 years (6 beam time cycles). Up to five beamlines may be requested for a BAG proposal. New BAG proposals are rigorously reviewed by the NSLS-II Proposal Review Panel (PRP). If a BAG proposal scores well, this results in an initial beam time allocation. For beam time requests (BTR) in future cycles, BAGs will be required to submit a report reviewing their past work and a shift estimate for the next cycle. The reports are reviewed at the PRP meeting and an allocation for the next cycle will be considered. All users submitting a BAG proposal are required to contact the beamline staff prior to submission. All BAG proposals and BTRs should be submitted through the web-based Proposal Allocation, Safety, and Scheduling System (PASS) system. Users may find the BAG Proposal template (.docx) handy for writing their proposal and then copying/pasting the information into PASS. Currently, BAG proposals are being accepted for the following beamlines: 8-ID (ISS), 11-BM (CMS), 16-ID (LiX), 17-BM (XFP), 17-ID-1 (AMX), 17-ID-2 (FMX), and 28-ID-2 (XPD). Only measurements based on existing, standard setups available at these beamlines will be considered for the BAG beam time. For more information on BAG proposals, please read the BAG policy and procedure (.pdf).
Joint Bio-SAXS / Bio-SANS Proposals
A collaboration has been established between the Bio-SAXS (LiX) beamline at NSLS-II and the Bio-SANS beamline at HFIR (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) to form a SAXS/SANS Joint Access Program. In this program, users only need to submit one beam time proposal for access to both facilities. In this proposal, the user must justify the need for both techniques. If you are interested in submitting a proposal through NSLS-II, please select the Rapid Access proposal type. There is no deadline for Bio-SAXS/SANS proposals submitted to NSLS-II but all users interested in submitting a proposal should contact the beamline staff prior to submission. If you are interested in submitting a proposal through HFIR, please visit: https://neutrons.ornl.gov/users/proposals. For more information, users are encouraged to contact Lin Yang (firstname.lastname@example.org) at NSLS-II or Shuo Qian (email@example.com) at HFIR.
Partner User (PU) Proposals
Partner Users (PU) proposals are for individuals or groups who need regular access to beam time on NSLS-II beamlines to carry out their work and who also wish to partner with the facility in making contributions that benefit other facility users by enhancing the utilization or capabilities of the facility or contributing to its operation. Possible examples include, but are not limited to, creating or expanding a user community, contributing a sophisticated endstation, contributing staff and/or equipment to provide user support for a given program, or the design, construction, or operation of endstation equipment, or even a whole beamline. NSLS-II staff may be PU members or PIs with the approval of the NSLS-II Director. The lifetime of a Partner User proposal will typically be up to three years, although it may be up to five years in special circumstances. Each beamline at NSLS-II has a maximum 40% of the available beamtime available for all PUs on that beamline.
In a PU proposal, the PI request a fraction of beam time on one or more beamlines where they propose to make a contribution (i.e., the primary beamlines). In addition, PUs can request occasional access to beam time on other beamlines where no contribution is being made (i.e., the supplemental beamlines). In this circumstance, the PU will forgo a fraction of its time on the primary beamline(s) in exchange for time on the supplemental beamline(s). Such an arrangement requires a written statement in PU proposal to justify the occasional use on supplementary beamline(s). If approved by NSLS-II management, such allowance will be included in the Partner User Agreement.
For PU who makes multiple contributions to and request beamtime on multiple beamlines, each PU contribution is evaluated for the specific beamline, and if approved, a single PU Agreement will be developed to capture the specific contributions to and the awarded beamtimes on the individual beamlines.
For each cycle that a PU needs beam time, the PI must submit a beam time request (BTR) against their PU proposal. Approved PU proposals require a short annual progress report. The report should include a short description of how the PU beam time was used during the previous year, such as development of beamline capabilities, community outreach (for those PUs supporting other users), and/or research activities. Productivity metrics, such as publications, patents, presentations, media highlights, industrial achievements, etc. should also be included.
Partner User proposals are peer-reviewed by the NSLS-II Proposal Review Panel, evaluated by the NSLS-II Science Advisory Committee, and allocated by NSLS-II management. PU group members may also submit GU proposals for beam time on any beamline. However, if a GU proposal is submitted for the beamline(s) on which they are a PU, the scientific scope may not overlap with the PU proposal. Any user submitting a PU proposal must contact the beamline staff prior to submission. All PU proposals and BTRs should be submitted through the web-based Proposal Allocation, Safety, and Scheduling System (PASS) system. Users may find the PU proposal template (.docx) handy for writing their proposal and then copying/pasting the information into PASS.
Proprietary research is work conducted under a Class Waiver for Proprietary Users of Energy Research Designated User Facilities. Private individuals, representatives from educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, or industry, may conduct such research. As of April 2017, two proprietary proposals have been run at NSLS-II for a total of four shifts of beam time. Under the terms of the DOE Class Waiver, the user is obligated to pay the full-cost recovery rate for use of NSLS-II. In return, the user has the option to take title to any inventions made during the proprietary research program and to treat as proprietary all technical data generated during the proprietary research program. The terms and conditions under which proprietary research may be conducted at the NSLS are set forth in the Proprietary User's Agreement, which must be in place before any experiment can commence. Proprietary work requires the submission of a Proprietary Proposal, which must contain a functional non-proprietary description of the work. Proprietary proposals are rapid-access proposals that are reviewed by NSLS-II management.
Beamline Discretionary Time (BDT) Proposals
Beamline management may allocate up to 10% of the available beam time for purposes that contribute to the utilization or enhancement of the beamline. Typical uses may include instrumentation development that is carried out by beamline staff and/or users, feasibility studies by beamline staff and/or users, or other purposes at the discretion of beamline management. All BDT usage is subject to retrospective review by NSLS-II management and will also be reviewed periodically by the Science Advisory Committee to ensure that it is appropriate and justified.
BDT proposals may only be submitted by NSLS-II beamline staff using the Proposal Allocation, Safety, and Scheduling System (PASS) system. The BDT Proposal template (.docx) may be handy for writing the proposal and then copying/pasting the information into PASS.