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User Proposals

All proposals must be submitted via our web-based NCNR-IMS database application. To do so, log on to your NCNR-IMS account . Follow the same link to create an account if you don't have one.
Note: Internal beamtime requests must be submitted in the same manner.

For detailed information on proposal preparation, proposal review, instrument availability, and facility access, please read the instructions posted for the latest CALL FOR PROPOSALS.

Beam time is provided without charges, except for proprietary research. There are two programs that can provide some monetary assistance, i.e., travel and subsistence support, for new users of the NCNR. The first is administered by the University of Maryland, and is intentended for new users from US universities with approved experiments. A second program sponsored by the National Science Foundation provides travel funds for new graduate students to introduce them to neutron scattering at the NCNR.

Proposal instructions

  1. Proposal types:
    • New Proposal is a regular proposal for instrument time. Continuation proposals no longer comprise a separate class. All proposals will be reviewed by experts in their subject matter, as well as by the Beam Time Allocation Committee (BTAC).
    • Quick Access Proposal asks for beam time in the very near future for measurements that cannot be delayed. Such a proposal will be reviewed by the BTAC and held to a higher standard than regular proposals.
    • Beam Time Request is not a proposal, but rather a request for part of the instrument time reserved for NIST internal research programs, or for the time reserved for Participating Research Teams. Under certain conditions, external users may be able to submit such a request. More information
  2. Preferred dates for the performance of an experiment, and/or impossible dates, should be indicated.
  3. Please indicate the name of the person to be contacted in all future communication regarding the proposal, who will be assumed to be the first name on the list of proposers, unless otherwise indicated.
  4. Identify graduate students and indicate whether the proposed work is an essential part of a student's thesis.
  5. If a proposal is successful, and no suggested local contact has been identified, the NCNR will choose one.
  6. Standard sample environments will vary according to instrument. Please examine the instrument descriptions and the sample environment pages for more information. If you believe that you will require a non-standard sample environment, please contact the appropriate instrument scientist to discuss the feasibility of providing it.
  7. Safety is a consideration of prime importance at NIST. All safety rules and standard practices observed at NIST and the NCNR must be followed by gust researchers. Your proposal will receive a review for safety by NIST staff. If you are aware of any possible hazards associated with your proposed experiment, please describe these in detail, appending extra sheets if necessary. Failure to do so may delay or cancel your experiment.
  8. Please consult more detailed instructions and the proposal help page for in-depth information on how to access the form and fill it out line by line.

Tips on Proposal Writing

Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit and technical soundness by external reviewers and BTAC members. Bear in mind that the external reviewers may sometimes not be experts in neutron beam methods, although they will always be experts on the scientific areas of the proposals they are asked to review. The BTAC members, on the other hand, will be generally knowledgeable about neutron methods but may be less familiar with your scientific area. A review of technical feasibility by a NCNR staff member will also be carried out, and discussions between BTAC members and our staff about technical points may occur.

In view of the above, we offer the following advice.

  1. Place your proposal in a reasonably broad scientific context. Do not assume that the reviewers and BTAC members will appreciate the significance of your proposed experiment if you do not state what it is. On the other hand, the presentation is being judged by scientists and overstatements are inadvisable.
  2. Indicate clearly what is to be measured and how. If some or all of your samples have already been prepared, make this clear. Otherwise, it will be assumed that the your samples are not yet ready. Proposals should contain enough detail about the measurements to justify the requested beam time.
  3. Proposals should be reasonably self-contained. Do not rely on cited references as an essential part of your case. While mail reviewers may look up some references if they are so inclined, BTAC members are unlikely to do so.

The SANS subcommittee of the BTAC wishes to emphasize that, if possible, proposals should include the following information in the appropriate fields on the proposal form:

  • experimental details such as specific compositions and concentrations
  • anticipated run times and desired Q-ranges
  • scientific background and anticipated impact
  • anticipated method of data analysis
  • list of publications from prior NCNR instrument time
Created May 12, 2017, Updated November 15, 2019