The Principal Investigator (PI) is the person who owns the project and who has overall responsibility for the research group. This includes individuals who may be faculty members working with students/postdocs as well as researchers in industry and other laboratories who have the ultimate responsibility for a research group and projects.
The Experiment Leader is the researcher working under the PI who manages the experiments taking place on a beamline. This is typically the person completing the proposal form. The ALS encourages students/postdocs to gain experience in submitting proposals as the Experiment Leader.
Consolidation of Proposals
Similar or closely related proposals from the same group should be consolidated into a single, strong proposal. This often improves the merit and score of the resulting proposal. The Proposal Study Panel (PSP) and the ALS are aware when multiple proposals are submitted from a single group for the same science program and/or for use of the same beamline.
A proposal may request beam time on up to three beamlines. Please only choose beamlines required to do the work described in your proposal. We will use the first beamline you choose to match your proposal with reviewers. If you need assistance choosing a beamline, please review the beamline techniques and parameters in the ALS Beamline Directory and contact the appropriate beamline scientist. You may also contact the User Services Office for assistance.
Writing the Scientific Case
Content to Include
- Narrative description of the science to be pursued. Please note that reviewers may not be experts in your area of specialty. Include an introduction for a broader scientific audience.
- Justification for the beamline and the amount of beamtime requested (may include preliminary data to demonstrate feasibility)
- Previous scientific accomplishments and synchrotron track record
Proposals are limited to three pages or less for the six-month General User proposal cycle. Please use a legible font style and size. Only the recommended number of pages will be read by the review panel; the remainder will be ignored.
Molecular Foundry Requests
If you are planning to request time at the Molecular Foundry in your General User proposal, be prepared during proposal submission to provide a brief technical description of the work you wish to perform at each facility requested. Users are able to select up to two Molecular Foundry facilities. Please include enough detail so Foundry staff can evaluate feasibility (200–400 words as a guideline).
There is high demand for beam time on the majority of ALS beamlines. These beamlines can be identified by the low cutoff score for proposals; see Proposal Score Statistics for more information. A proposal for a highly subscribed beamline will have a greater chance of success when the reasons for choosing a specific beamline are clearly stated, e.g., unique features, required resolution, higher flux, etc.
Criteria for Evaluating the Scientific Case
The following criteria, endorsed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) in the IUPAP Recommendations for the Use of Major Physics Users Facilities, will be used by the Proposal Study Panels (PSPs) to evaluate beamtime proposals for general users:
- Scientific merit
- Technical feasibility
- Capability of the experimental group
- Availability of the resources required
PIs and experiment leaders will find it helpful to address each of these aspects in their proposals.
Clearly state the goals and scope of the proposed experiment. Discussion of the scientific motivation should be brief, starting with a short introduction suitable for the non-specialist, since members of the Proposal Study Panels are not specialists in all fields of research. Further details should address the proposed research specifically, while avoiding general statements. The number of eight-hour beamtime shifts requested should be consistent with the goals. It is not helpful to inflate the amount of beamtime required for an experiment.
Details of the experimental method should be provided, including the requirements for the particular beamline and/or endstation that is requested. Where appropriate, state whether the endstation is already in place, in use elsewhere, in the design phase, or under construction. Before writing a proposal it is recommended that PIs obtain information about the beamline from our ALS Beamline Directory, which has beamline contacts and technical specifications, and from discussions with the ALS beamline scientist.
The ALS is a high-brightness facility. Proposals for undulator beamlines must address the need for high brightness, including spot size, spectral resolution, and flux requirements. The proposal should be consistent with the performance of the requested beamline. Include estimates of signal rate and noise where appropriate.
Fully address all safety aspects of the experiment, especially where complex sample preparation, hazardous chemicals or biological samples are involved.
Capability of the Experimental Group
State the names of all members of the group, including ALS collaborators. It is important to refer to the group’s previous work and resulting publications resulting from ALS beam time and from other experiments, showing sample data when available or appropriate. All submissions should include references to at least five publications relating to the proposal.
Availability of Resources Required
Describe details of the resources required for a specific experiment. Investigators should take into account the availability and capability of a beamline, as well as any specialized equipment or technical support requirements.