Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some of the most common questions about the proposal process and the online system proposal system for General Users.

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What kinds of proposals are eligible for general user time?
The APS has one type of general user proposal, which is active for two years OR until the number of shifts recommended by the Proposal Review Panel (PRP) has been used.

A "rapid-access beamtime request" against a submitted proposal can be considered for any unallocated general user time during the current run.

When can I submit my proposal?

  • Proposals received by the deadline given in the GUP calendar will be considered for the following run.
  • A rapid-access request can be submitted at any point in the run cycle. BUT if it is not approved for immediate access, it does not "roll over" into the next cycle: you must submit a regular request at the next General User deadline.

What information do I need to provide?
In general, the proposal form asks you to

  • Select up to three beamlines and, on APS-managed beamlines, the specific instrument that would meet your needs (see the Find a Beamline page for a techniques directory and beamline directory that have technical information that will help you make appropriate choices). Time will be awarded on one beamline.

  • Identify the subject of the research and your funding source.

  • Provide contact information for the members of the research team.

  • Explain the need for synchrotron radiation, APS facilities, and beamline capabilities.

  • Describe the experimental procedure and samples.

  • Estimate the amount of beam time required and specify any scheduling restrictions.

What is "project status"?
Project status is available for a project that absolutely requires predictable access to beam time over more than one cycle. You must justify the need for the beamline(s) requested and justify why the goals of the proposal cannot be achieved effectively or efficiently under a standard General User proposal. Additional levels of review apply, and this status will be granted very sparingly. If granted, a fixed amount of beam time is allocated in advance for more than one cycle.

What is a "rapid access request"?
The rapid access process provides an option for short-turnaround assignment of beam time for urgent needs that arise between the formal review and allocation cycles.

Beamline staff are notified immediately when a request is submitted. If the beamline considers the proposed experiment acceptable and beam time is available, a beamline staff member will contact you to schedule the experiment. In the meantime, if the proposal is new, it will continue through the normal review process, with the conclusions evaluated retrospectively. If rapid access time is not awarded and you still want time, you do not need to make a new proposal. You can make another beam time request on the same proposal at the next proposal deadline.

For full instructions, select the Beamtime Request tab in a proposal and on that screen, select the link "Rapid Access Description."

What is the difference between a proposal and a beam time request (BTR)?
In a proposal you describe your experiment and identfy your experimental team. In a beam time request (BTR), you identify where and when you want beam time. Beam time requests are associated with specific proposals, and a proposal can have several beam time requests.

The proposal and the first beam time request are created together. For subsequent visits for the same work, a new request must be created against the original proposal; thus, a proposal can have multiple beam time requests. 

When beam time is allocated, the Beam Time Access System (in combination with the Beamtime Scheduling System) associates each beam usage with a specific proposal, BTR, and Experiment Safety Assessment Form (ESAF).

I want to work at multiple beamlines in the same cycle. How do I do that?
If you need time at more than one beamline, make separate beam time requests on the same proposal. Specify one beamline in one request, and the other(s) in the other request(s). Be sure the body of your proposal describes clearly why you need multiple beamlines and how much time you need on each. Each request will be considered separately for allocation.

How is my proposal reviewed?
The proposal review process is described under the General User information on the User Policies and Procedures page.

When do I find out the results?
About 6-7 weeks after the proposal deadline, the proposal spokesperson will receive an email from the APS giving the decision of the Beamtime Allocation Committee. For rapid access requests, the spokesperson will be contacted by the host beamline if time becomes available. See the GUP calendar for important dates in each proposal cycle.

What if my proposal is not allocated time?

  • Upon your request, it will be considered in future cycles... 

If you wish the proposal to be considered for allocation in the next cycle, you do not need to make a new proposal. Just create and submit another beam time request on the same proposal. You may request time against a proposal as long as it is active. Proposals remain active for two years (six cycles) or until the PRP-recommended number of shifts has been used. When your proposal expires, you must submit a new one to obtain beam time.

For allocation purposes, all proposals requesting time in a given cycle will be reconsidered as a group, whatever their prior history.

  • …and the score will be adjusted.

    If your proposal is not allocated time in the cycle for which it is first submitted, its score will be improved by 0.2 when you request time in a future cycle. This increment can occur a maximum of two times. The increment is applied only when you submit a new beam time request for a particular cycle. Once time is allocated, the proposal reverts to its original score.