The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

Instructions for Proposers

You can use the APS Beam Time Access System to

  • Prepare your proposal, in several working sessions if necessary.
  • Submit your final proposal to the APS.
  • View your proposal at any time after you have submitted it.

Getting started

You need a badge number to create and view proposals. To get a number, register as a user with the User Office; you will get your badge number by email within about a day.

The first time you log on, your password is your badge number. You will be asked to change it.

You can edit your proposal in more than one session.

If you want to share the online proposal with collaborators, list them in the proposal AND include their badge numbers.

Use the Save button to save your working copy. You can return to it at another session. Your data are automatically saved when you move between sections.

Use the Submit button to send the proposal to APS. Once you submit the proposal, the only change you can make is to add new beam time requests. If required information is missing when you click the Submit button, you will see an error message identifying the missing information.

TIP: Make a note of your badge number, your password, and the proposal number: you will need them to access the proposal and the APS User Portal, which you will use frequently when arranging for your experiment.


Name lookup: In the Experimenters data-entry screen, you can automatically insert contact information for experiment participants who are already badged APS users. Click the "Find" link next to the field you want to fill in.

File attachments: You can attach files with additional information, e.g., figures, tables, etc. Please provide these materials in PDF format. The review panels strongly prefer that you enter the full text of your proposal in the data entry screens and use PDF attachments only for figures and essential supporting text.

Quick search: On the search criteria screen, if you click "Submit Query" without specifying any other criteria, the system will retrieve all the proposals that you are eligible to view.

Copy proposal button: The Copy Proposal button copies most of the information from the current proposal into a new proposal and displays the new proposal.

Generate report button: The Generate Report button produces a PDF containing the information in the proposal. The report generation software has limited formatting capabilities, and the reviewers understand these limitations. Note that the report for a submitted proposal does not include any unsubmitted beam time requests.

Access to proposal information

The proposal: A proposal can be viewed and edited by the individual listed as the spokesperson and by any collaborator identified on the proposal by an APS badge number. In addition, because this system is used to track proposals through the review and allocation stages, proposal data will also be visible to

  • APS upper management
  • User Office staff
  • Certain staff members of each beamline selected
  • The reviewers selected to evaluate the proposal
  • The beam time allocation committees.

The abstract: Your abstract may be shared with a funding agency and may become public. To accommodate the reporting requirements of certain funding agencies, we require a plain-text abstract of less than 2000 characters. Please be aware that the title and abstract of your proposal could become publicly accessible at a future time through the Freedom of Information Act.

Key concepts

Spokesperson: The spokesperson is the member of the team who should receive all official communication about the proposal throughout its lifetime (usually the person most actively involved in managing the experiment).

Shift: Beam time at the APS is allocated in shifts of 8 hours.

Beam time request or proposal? A proposal describes the work you will do, and a beam time request (BTR) against the proposal identifies where and when you want to do that work. The proposal and the first beam time request are created together. For later visits for the same work, or if the first request was not allocated time, you must make a new request against the original proposal. Thus, a proposal can have multiple beam time requests.

Beamline choice: On each beam time request, the user may choose up to three beamlines that would be appropriate. Factors that could lead to time being allocated on the second or third choice include technical feasibility review by the first choice beamline, the score, or the number of number of shifts requested. If the option "any appropriate beamline" is checked, the request will be considered for any beamline where the work could be done.

Rapid access mode: A "rapid-access beam time request" against a submitted proposal can be considered for any unallocated general user time during the current run. Some beamlines hold a percentage of time aside for such requests. The rapid-access option is available only at certain times in the proposal cycle. If the option is available, it will show up on the beam time request section of the proposal form. For a fuller explanation of rapid access, see our key proposal concepts page.

Project mode: The project mode allows beam time to be guaranteed for more than one cycle for work where guaranteed time is essential to the experimental design. For a fuller explanation of project mode, see our key proposal concepts page.

Work on multiple beamlines: The Beamtime Request screen permits you to make separate requests for different beamlines, e.g., to perform different techniques. You must make a compelling case within the proposal for why such a split request is justified.

TIP: For more information and a description of the life cycle of a proposal, see our key proposal concepts page.

Information required

Blank proposal screen shots

These screen shots give an overview of the proposal interface:

General information

  • Experimenters' contact information (will be used by other APS systems if you are awarded beam time)
  • General safety information (detailed safety information will be requested later)
  • The beamline(s) requested, and (for APS-operated beamlines) the specific technique required
  • Number of 8-hour shifts needed

Questions section

  • What is the scientific or technical purpose and importance of the proposed research? Why do you need the APS for this research?
  • (For project status requests:) Why does this proposal warrant project status?
  • Why do you need the beamline you have chosen?
  • Describe the participants' previous experience with synchrotron radiation and the experimental results obtained. (If you refer to previous publications, be sure to include complete citations.)
  • Provide an overall estimate of the amount of beam time you will need to accomplish the goals of your proposed experimental program. How many visits during the two-year proposal period do you expect to need? How many shifts will you need during each visit (approximately)?
  • References.

Sample page (macromolecular crystallography only)

Information is requested in the following areas:

  • Sample identification--the sample name and type of molecule are required.
  • Unit cell information.
  • Crystal size and quality.
  • Safety information--select the appropriate biosafety level.
  • Experimental needs, including energy, cryo-freezing conditions, structure solution strategy, and sample mounting.
  • Funding source--check all sources of funding for the proposed work. If you choose "Other (specify)", be sure to provide a description.


I can't log on.

  • For badge number help, contact the APS User Office (, 1-630-252-9090).
  • To have your password reset, use the link "Click here if you forgot your APS Web Password" on the login screen.

I get an error message when I submit the proposal.

  • Have you entered a response to all the questions and fields? The missing fields are listed in the error message.

I still can't solve my problem or I have another question.

  • For questions about the proposal process or content of the proposal form, contact the APS User Office (write, call Beverly Knott, 630-252-7385, or call the general User Office number, 630-252-9090.
  • For technical problems, contact the system managers (


To comment on the contents, please contact or 630-252-9090.