Guidelines

Application guidelines

Technical implementation of application procedure to receive BioStruct-X funding and guidance notes

Background:
In BioStruct-X a unified portal is offered for user project applications and their evaluation by a centralized review committee. The overall aim of these project tools is to facilitate coordinated support and infrastructure access to all scientific users. Participating facilities may use the evaluation results without further on-site assessment. In addition, the project aims for coherence with initiatives within the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) process (http://ec.europa.eu/research/infrastructures/index_en.cfm?pg=esfri). The relevant initiative for this project is Instruct (www.structuralbiology.eu), with which BioStruct-X aims for an in-depth co-operation.

Aims of this document:
This document outlines the implementation of processes for handling project applications via a central BioStruct-X portal, evaluating the BioStruct-X proposals, and for covering the reporting requirements of supported projects. In addition, the document provides technical and administrative guidance to the BioStruct-X partner facilities and to potential applicants. It defines the responsibilities of the BioStruct-X management, the participating facilities, and supported users.

BioStruct-X project applications:

Applications for support by BioStruct-X are carried out either via Block Application Group (BAG) proposals or via Single Project (SP) proposals). BAG proposals are submitted for multiple projects by local regional or national research consortia. A BAG should include at least five independent research groups and normally does not exceed 15. The minimal amount of request should be for minimally 15 beam line shifts (1 shift = 8 hours of beamtime). The following options are available for the four technology platforms:

  • Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS, WP2): BAG proposals are preferred; SP proposals are possible during the initial phase of the project. For BAG proposals, combined applications with MX are possible. For SP proposals, combinations with all technology platforms are possible.
  • Macromolecular X-ray crystallography (MX, WP3): Only BAG proposals are possible, unless MX is used in combination with XI or PP. For BAG proposals, combined applications with SAXS are possible.
  • X-ray imaging (XI, WP4): Only SP proposals are possible, combinations with all other technology platforms are allowed.
  • Protein Production and High-throughput crystallization (PP & HTX, WP5): Only SP proposals are possible, combinations with all other technology platforms are allowed.

BioStruct-X management advises on joining existing consortia (please email to: biostructx(at)embl-hamburg.de).

BioStruct-X does not restrict selection of partner facilities within a BAG proposal. However, BioStruct-X management advises that BAGs request access to a realistic number of facilities. We recommend taking common sense criteria into account, such as geographic proximity, ease of sample transport, potential unique facility features etc. For SAXS applications we expect that the number of selected facilities normally does not exceed two per technology type. For MX applications it is conceivable that the number of selected facilities may be larger, depending on size and diversity of interests within a BAG.

The complete BioStruct-X project application will be carried out online, using a form on the BioStruct-X website. To complete the application, there is a requirement for online registration by proposal coordinator who should then be prepared to submit the following information:

A. Information required for Block Application Group (BAG) applications

  • BAG proposal title
  • Four keywords (major scientific themes)
  • Earlier proposal
  • BAG coordinator and BAG Lead PI names and coordinates
  • BAG principal investigator (PI)
  • BAG proposal summary
  • Key Publications (maximum number 10)
  • List of projects including scientific background and significance of the project and project goals and objectives
  • Platform installations selected
  • Total number of beam time shifts (minimum 15)
  • Total number of facility visits expected (minimum 5)

B. Information required for Single Project (SP) applications:

  • SP Proposal title
  • Four keywords (major scientific themes)
  • Earlier proposal
  • Project coordinator and Project Lead PI names and coordinates
  • SP proposal summary
  • Key Publications (maximum number 10)
  • Platform installations selected
  • Total number of estimated units

BioStruct-X project evaluation:
Once the submission process of a BioStruct-X proposal is completed the application is transferred to the Chair of the Project Evaluation Committee. He/she will send the proposal to three panel members for evaluation. As the result of the evaluation a score in the range of 0-5 will be generated (the score definitions are published on http://www.biostruct-x.eu/content/scoring-guidelines). A score of 2-5 will allow BioStruct-X support of the project, however with score-dependent priority recommendations to the partner facilities. The Project Evaluation Committee may also provide additional comments on the scientific content of the proposal. The proposal coordinator will be informed about the evaluation of the proposal as soon as the evaluation process is completed i.e. he/she will receive the score and the comments of the panel.

The lifetime for BioStruct-X support of each project starts at the date when the evaluation result is passed to the project coordinator and is valid for 1.5 year for SP proposals and until the end of the project for BAG proposals, provided an annual report on the use of resources is submitted. During the lifetime of the project, the coordinator and the principal investigators, listed in the proposal, can approach selected BioStruct-X partner facilities for infrastructure access with BioStruct-X support. When applying via the facilities’ local application procedure, they need clearly identify that their application is being supported by BioStruct-X. Possible BioStruct-X support is limited to their offer within the BioStruct-X grant, not exceeding 20% of their facility user community, and therefore is not guaranteed by a successful application. A positively evaluated project proposal therefore does not guarantee support by a participating BioStruct-X partner facilities.

In parallel, selected BioStruct-X partner facilities will be informed about the result of the evaluation of those projects that have passed (scores 2-5). To avoid any unwanted competition and bias of participating BioStruct-X partner facilities, they will not be informed about other facilities selected within the same proposal.

BioStruct-X project reporting:
Once BioStruct-X support is granted for specific projects, it is the facility’s responsibility, in cooperation with the supported facility users, to ensure timely and complete reporting of supported BioStruct-X projects in accordance with FP7 reporting guidelines and obligations for Transnational Access activities (http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/capacities/research-infrastructures-doc_en.html). It is essential for the BioStruct-X project and in the natural interest of BioStruct-X supported users that project data and their interpretation are published in peer-reviewed journals. BioStruct-X support must be acknowledged by the following statement: "The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under BioStruct-X (grant agreement N°283570)."

To implement this, it should not be necessary to change the application mechanism at any facility. However, the guidance for users will need to be altered and the facility reviews are asked to take note of the BioStruct-X score. Facilities will therefore need to take the following measures:

  • State on their web site that users will have to apply for BioStruct-X funding in advance of applying to any facility, including the BioStruct-X web site address (to be announced) for doing this.
  • Take account of the BioStruct-X score when assessing applications to the facilities.
  • Provide a mechanism for Users to indicate that they are applying from a BioStruct-X BAG (checkbox, addition of code number to name or as appropriate).

 

Diagram 1. Workflow for BioStruct-X supported projects
The user will provide the facilities with the BioStruct-X number and score. This will be contained in the initial part of the application to a chosen facility, avoiding the need for additional communication between BioStruct-X and the facilities. Facility review panel representatives will be on the BioStruct-X panel thereby ensuring consistency of applications and scores. BioStruct-X, facilities and all reviewers will be expected to maintain the normal level of confidentiality for facility applications.
 

   

 
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BioStruct-X is part of the Capacities Specific Programme Research Infrastructures, Project Number 283570
BioStruct-X contact: biostructx(at)embl-hamburg.de, I. Custic, ph: +49 - 40 89902 124, fax: +49 - 40 89902 149

eu fp7 Collaborator: instruct