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SSRL operates as a dedicated synchrotron radiation source for approximately nine months per year (usually from early November through early August). Submitting a proposal is the first step to access beam time at SSRL.
Research teams are discouraged from submitting multiple proposals unless the proposed research is completely unrelated. Multiple proposals from members of the same research team will be flagged during the peer review process (may be combined and limited in lifetime and/or beam time allocations).
The proposal form requires prospective users to indicate the total number of shifts desired on SSRL beam lines. The SSRL run year is divided into three scheduling periods, and standard proposals are generally eligible to request beam time for up to six scheduling periods (for up to two years).
SSRL proposals are peer reviewed and competitively rated by the SSRL Proposal Review Panel (PRP) on a scale from 1 (highest) to 5 (lowest). In some cases, the PRP will indicate if the proposed experiment should have a shorter lifecycle or a limited amount of beam time to encourage exploratory studies or to determine feasibility.
Successful proposals are eligble to request and may be awarded beam time on SSRL beam lines, with priority given to the highest rated proposals and those which demonstrate efficient and productive use of beam time. Proposals rated better than 1.4 are most likely to receive their optimal number of shifts on their first choice beam line; other requests are accommodated as beam time is available. This separate step provides a mechanism for the proposal spokesperson to indicate their desired beam line(s), amount of beam time, specific equipment or beam line configuratons, and dates when they are available or when they have conflicts during a specific scheduling cycle.
Note: If members of the same research team have several proposals, they will not necessarily be granted beam time for each of the proposals in each scheduling period. In many cases, the Spokesperson can advise which of their experiments has the highest priority during a scheduling cycle. Many SSRL beam lines are oversubscribed by proposals with high scientific merit; consequently, requests for highly oversubscribed beam lines will likely be limited to one (in rare cases two) experiments per research group per run year.
When submitting new proposals or beam time requests, remember that attention will be given to published results from previous experiments utilizing SSRL's unique facilities that have appropriately acknowledged SSRL and funding agencies. Updated publications and acknowledgements help to demonstrate the scientific achievements and productivity of SSRL beam time as well as the scientists who have been awarded beam time at this facility.
Contact us when exciting results are about to be published so that we can work with user institutions to develop the story and to communicate user research findings to a broader audience through our newsletters and science highlights.
- Submit new X-ray/VUV proposals by June 1, September 1, December 1;
- Submit new Macromolecular Crystallography proposals by July 1, December 1, April 1.
For each proposal, the PRP provides a numeric rating as well as a recommended beam time allocation for the lifetime of the proposal.
In addition to standard proposals, Rapid Access and Letter of Intent (LOI) proposals provide mechanisms for quick access to a small amount of beam time to test the feasibility of new ideas. Submit all New Proposals, Beam Time and Support Requests through the User Portal.
* The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (SC), which is the primary sponsor of SSRL, requires that a limited set of information relating to user research proposals be transmitted to SC annually. A subset of this information, including user name, institutional affiliation(s), and proposal title(s), will be publically disseminated at the conclusion of the fiscal year as part of an SC user facility user experiments database on the SC website.
Register and submit new proposals through the user portal. In addition to the questions asked through the User Portal, standard proposals contain 2 main parts: a brief abstract and the proposal description. See instructions below.
Title and Abstract: Provide a title and brief summary of the proposal that you would be willing to share in various reports. Briefly state the scientific justification, the planned experiments, the techniques to be used, and the expected outcomes; limit to 1900 characters. In addition to copying your abstract in the appropriate box, you may also upload an abstract file in PDF format.
Proposal Description: Describe your experiment including the following information, with Specific Aims and Planned Experiments clearly explained. The Project Description must be in PDF format and proposal text is limited to 3 pages (including figures), using 12-pt font, 1 inch margins and single spacing. Provide the PI/Spokesperson's name in the upper right hand corner of each page.
- Background/Significance (Provide a brief description of the current state of the chosen research area, concentrating on any gaps in current understanding that this proposal is designed to address. The significance of the research question being addressed should also be discussed. Essentially, answer the questions 'why is this research of interest? Be clear and concise; remember that reviewers may not be precisely in your area of research.)
- Specific Aims (Itemize the particular questions you want to answer, preferably as a numbered or bulleted list. Very briefly, describe how these questions target the overall research question discussed above.)
- Planned Experiments (Preferably organized by your Specific Aims, state explicitly the experiments that you plan to perform in pursuit of the answers to your specific aims. Be explicit with samples you will examine, techniques you will employ, and results you might expect. It may be appropriate to comment on how you would respond to difficulties encountered.)
- Data Interpretation Methods (Provide a brief overview of the methods of data interpretation you intend to use and of your experience, if appropriate.)
- Need for Synchrotron Radiation and SSRL (Describe why you believe that the synchrotron radiation techniques you propose are required or desirable to pursue your specific aims. If you are familiar with SSRL beam lines, specify which beam line(s) you want to use for your experiments and why; estimate how much beam time will be required, again preferably organized by your Specific Aims.)
- References (Provide 2-3 references to related work by the team members to demonstrate characterization by more conventional methods.)
* Any potential safety related issues must be disclosed when submitting a new proposal. List and describe any safety concerns that may arise with samples you will examine, equipment you will use, or techniques you will perform (including any physical, chemical or biological hazards) and how these issues will be addressed in the experiment design.
How to Wow! See tips for a successful proposal. A good proposal answers all the ‘W’-questions. WHO is planning WHAT, WHERE (beam line), WHEN, WHY, and HOW.
Users may submit a Rapid Access Proposal through the User Portal to apply for a small amount of beam time (1-5 shifts) which are set aside during the run cycle for users to try new ideas using several beam lines and techniques. Rapid access proposals may be brief (upload PDF through the User Portal) but must include a justification of why rapid access is needed. Rapid access proposals are reviewed and rated by the Proposal Review Panel. Rapid access proposals may be submitted at any time and are subject to the availability of rapid access slots on these SSRL Beam Lines:
- Macromolecular Crystallography Beam Lines
- BL4-2 Biological Small Angle-Scattering (Bio SAXS)
- BL7-2 X-ray Diffraction/Scattering (XRD)
- BL7-3 Biological X-ray Absorption (Bio XAS)
- BL2-3, BL10-2, BL14-3 Microprobe Imaging
- BL11-2, BL4-1 Molecular Environmental and Interface Science (MEIS XAS)
- BL11-3 X-ray Diffraction/Scattering (XRD)
At the discretion of the SSRL Director and Safety Officer, a small amount of beam time (6-18 shifts) may be available for users to test the feasibility of new ideas or for students to complete their thesis work. Users may access this beam time by submitting a brief Letter of Intent (LOI) proposal through the user portal which includes a justification of why LOI time at SSRL is needed. Users may submit LOI proposals at any time (upload PDF through the User Portal). NOTE: LOI proposals compete with peer reviewed and rated proposals, and they generally have difficulty competing for beam time on oversubscribed beam lines.
Requests for a one-time proposal extension may be submitted to SSRL before the initial two-year beam time eligibility period expires. Extension requests are reviewed by the PRP on the same schedule as new proposals. For example, for an X-ray/VUV proposal expiring on July 31, submit an extension request by June 1. If it's a macromolecular crystallography proposal expiring July 31, submit the extension request by July 1.
- Submit new X-ray/VUV proposals or extension requests by June 1, September 1, December 1;
- Submit new Macromolecular Crystallography proposals or extension requests by July 1, December 1, April 1.
- Complete the Macromolecular Crystallography Proposal Extension Request form attach a document that summarizes progress and future plans, and submit this as a PDF attachment via email before the proposal expiration date. (Download Macromolecular Crystallography form)
Extension requests must summarize:
- Progress accomplished to date
- New elements
- Future plans to be pursued under the existing proposal
- An updated list of collaborators
- A summary of how previous beam time at SSRL and other facilities was used
- A list of publications related to work conducted at SSRL on the proposal.*
* When submitting new proposals or extensions, keep in mind that attention will be given to proposals that have published results from experiments utilizing SSRL's unique facilities and that have appropriately acknowledged SSRL and funding agencies on all related publications. Updated publications and acknowledgements help to demonstrate the scientific achievements and productivity of users and of this facility.
Contact us when exciting results are about to be published so that we can work with user's institutions to develop the story and to communicate user research findings to a broader audience through our newsletters and science highlights.
Based on the extension material, the PRP may extend the proposal for up to two years, change the rating, or terminate the proposal.
Review How to Request & Access Beam Time. Users submit separate beam time requests for each beam line, technique, equipment configuration or time period desired. Beam time can be spread out over several scheduling periods during the lifetime of the proposal. However, requests for highly oversubscribed beam lines will likely be limited to one (in rare cases two) experiments per research group per run year.
Review deadlines and submit beam time through the user portal before the posted deadlines. Successful proposals may be awarded beam time on SSRL beam lines, with priority given to the highest rated proposals and those which demonstrate efficient and productive use of beam time.
Review SSRL Access Policy
- Macromolecular Crystallography (PX). See also: proposal guide
SSRL provides technical tools for world-leading science at no charge for scientists who conduct non-proprietahry research, with the understanding that significant results are to be publicly disseminated. Scientists must acknowledge use of the facility in presentations and publications and must inform the facility of all publications, theses, awards, patents and other forms of recognition resulting from research conducted fully or partially at SSRL. These metrics of scientific achievements and productivity are extremely important to the facility and to funding agencies. Please contact us as results are about to be published so that we can work with you to more broadly communicate your research.