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Access to Octopus and Ultra

Applications are now invited for access to the Ultra and Octopus facilities of the Central Laser Facility (CLF) in the Research Complex at Harwell during Period 1 of 2017 (Access from June 2017 to November 2017).

The deadline for applications is Monday 23rd January 2017.

For this call applications are invited for the following modes of access:

Direct Access and Approved Programmes: Ultra and Octopus

New programme access: Octopus

Please carefully read all the information below before submitting an application.

Please submit your application here: https://proposal.isis.rl.ac.uk/home/ (link opens in a new window)

Information for applicants

A brochure containing an overview of the OCTOPUS and ULTRA facilities can be found here (PDF format):

A list of current panel members: https://www.stfc.ac.uk/CLF/Using+our+facilities/Applying+for+access/Calls/45819.aspx (link opens in a new window)

Before applying:

Applicants are strongly recommended to contact an appropriate CLF staff member to discuss requirements before applying, even if you have previously submitted a proposal.

Applicants to Octopus please note:

The facility is now operating with more than one user group simultaneously. All applicants must apply for sufficient access to cover the use of each microscope required. For example, a group intending to use two different Octopus microscopes simultaneously for one week should apply for two weeks of access. Applicants must include in their proposal a detailed breakdown of which Octopus microscopes they require, and the amount of time required on each. Proposals will be returned if this information is not provided.

The guideline allocated time for programme access is a maximum of 4 weeks access for each 6 month period. Requests for additional time will require further justification.

Applicants to Ultra please note:

Ultra is now offering 60 weeks of peer reviewed access per year across three separate laser systems (see brochure for further information).

Each laser system has both complementary (unique) and common capabilities. It is recommended, especially for new applicants, that you contact an Ultra staff member to discuss your specific needs. Should an applicant require the in-parallel use of multiple laser systems or separate experiments, the time requested should be calculated in one week blocks as the sum of the time requested for each experiment.

Due to an increase in academic access to 60 weeks per year and additional industrial access, multiple user groups may be present at any one time. We therefore ask that all applicants base the personnel resourcing of their usertime on the figure of three people present at any one time on a particular instrument, with justification given to and permission sought from Ultra group leader Mike Towrie if extra numbers are required.


Applicants should enter on the application form dates when they do not wish their experiments to be scheduled. We will endeavour to avoid scheduling experiments on dates indicated as unsuitable by the applicant.

Experimental Reports from a previous user time:

The CLF User Office requests formal reports for all Direct Access and ongoing Programmes. Repeated failure to supply requested reports may lead to the Facility Access Peer Review Panel (FAP) deferring your proposal. Additionally, if you have submitted such a report to the CLF user office from a usertime in the last access period, or are still due access in the current access period prior to the call deadline, you must ensure that the peer review panel can view a report after the current call closes by sending a copy to the FAP coordinator Paul Donaldson (paul.donaldson@stfc.ac.uk), absolute deadline by 6th February 2017.

For Approved Programme applications:

Applicants are requested to state clearly in their application the period of access on which they are reporting.

Access Modes:

Direct Access: For work requiring a limited amount of access (maximum of 3 weeks) in a single 6-month allocation period. Direct Access applications require a 2 page scientific case (including Figures, References etc) The application should be written using font size no less than 10 pt. Research Council grant funding is not a requirement for Direct Access. We encourage the submission of proposals aimed at collecting preliminary data to support future grant applications. Where this is the intention, it should be clearly stated in the proposal. Direct Access proposals from applicants who already have Programme Access awarded as principal or co-investigator will only be considered if they are for a different project; this should be clearly demonstrated in the proposal, which should include an explanation as to why the Direct Access application is an entirely different project, for which it would not be appropriate to use existing Programme time.

Although grant funding is not a requirement for Direct Access proposals, the panel will take funding into consideration when differentiating similarly ranked proposals, so please ensure that relevant grant funding is clearly identified in your application.

Approved Programmes: Users requesting time in this period as part of a previously Approved Programme should provide a short continuation application case (up to 3 A4 pages including figures and references) including a summary (1 A4 page) of progress to date (where time has already been used) and a detailed set of objectives for this period referring to their original proposal with any changes to the original Programme clearly highlighted (2 A4 pages).

For further information please contact:

Dr Paul Donaldson, FAP Coordinator: paul.donaldson@stfc.ac.uk, +44 (0)1235 567878, or
Dr David Clarke, Division Head: dave.clarke@stfc.ac.uk, +44(0)1235 567035

Criteria for assessment of proposals:

Applications will be assessed within the following criteria

Category 1. Absolute pre-requisite, without which an application will not be recommended for access:

· Scientific excellence
· A set of specific objectives for the project
· International competitiveness
· Strategic value within the STFC/CLF programme
· For Programme Access, funding from BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC, STFC,
or Wellcome Trust

Category 2. Supporting evidence which may increase the likelihood of a successful outcome:

· Productivity of Investigator
· Productivity of grant supported staff (where relevant)
· Quality of leadership/management
· Suitability of Institution/Group

Category 3. Important additional criteria which will be used to prioritise proposals when they cannot be separated under Categories 1 and 2:

· Potential for economic and societal impact
· Training
· Alignment with RCUK priority areas (e.g. demonstrated through allocation of strategically aligned grant funding)
· Proposals originating from scientists at the Research Complex at Harwell
· Combined access with Diamond or other major facilities at Harwell
· Association with facility developments aligned with STFC strategy

Each facility access proposal will normally be assessed by at least two referees. Referees and panel members are required to disclose conflicts of interest, personal or institutional, where this arises in relation to a proposal they have been asked to assess. Applicants who lobby or canvass members of the peer review panels or their officers about their research proposal will be disqualified.

In addition, please note the following:

We endeavour to provide access to all proposals supported by Research Council grants. However, because of limited capacity we are unable to guarantee access to all grant-funded proposals. Where the panel feels that a grant-supported application has not provided adequate information on its proposed use of CLF facilities, we may ask for clarification and resubmission of the proposal in the following round before access can be awarded.

Applications that involve access to both the CLF and other facilities at Harwell (e.g. Diamond Light Source) are encouraged. For applications of this type, the scientific advantages of a joint facility approach should be clearly explained in the proposal, as well as any technical issues, e.g. current status of applications to the partner facility, beamtime awarded, etc. Note that for access to other Harwell Campus facilities (Diamond, ISIS etc) separate applications need to be made to the other facility.

Proposals involving collaboration with someone who is not a co-investigator on the proposal require a letter of support from that person. This letter should be emailed to the CLF User Office after submission of the proposal, with the number of the proposal clearly identified in the email subject line.

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