For Prospective Users

Basic Policies regarding Proposal Selection for Public Beamlines (as of May 1, 2017)

In accordance with the “Act on the Promotion of Public Utilization of the Specific Advanced Large Research Facilities” and the “Basic Policy regarding the Promotion of Public Use of the Specific Synchrotron Radiation Facilities” established under the Article 4, Paragraph (1) of the Act, the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute shall conduct research proposal selection for the synchrotron radiation facility for public use (hereinafter referred to as the “Public Beamlines”) based on the policies specified below as a Registered Institution for Facilities Use Promotion (hereinafter referred to as the “Institution”).

Since the Specific Synchrotron Radiation Facilities are advanced facilities with the world’s best performance used for research in a variety of disciplines using synchrotron radiation, the Institution shall invite and review proposals in consideration of providing equal opportunity to use the Specific Synchrotron Radiation Facilities for domestic and overseas users and for all the research fields including industry through transparent procedures. At the same time, the Institution shall see to it that it fully utilizes the capabilities and resources of the Specific Synchrotron Radiation Facilities so that a greater number of high-quality research results are obtained.

I. Proposal Selection for Public Beamlines at SPring-8
1. Equal Opportunities for Users
As a general rule, the Institution makes the Public Beamlines available for a wide range of research disciplines through open calls for general proposals carried out by researchers from home and abroad of industrial, academic, and governmental organizations. In order to earnestly strive to produce a greater number of high-quality research results, however, the Institution may reserve a certain amount of beamtime for the priority research proposals taking into consideration scientific trends and social circumstances at home and abroad. The Institution shall seek advice from the SPring-8 Selection Committee as to beamtime allocation policies for general proposals, priority research proposals and others before determining the beamtime allocation.

2. General Proposal
2.1 The Institution shall invite general proposals from the public. For that purpose, the Institution must post calls for proposals on the websites and in SR-related academic journals and scientific magazines on a regular basis and widely disseminate information at home and abroad about the proposal calls.

General proposals can be submitted at any time, and the submitted proposals are reviewed twice a year as a general rule. The provisions regarding the timing of proposal selection and the period of user time are announced at a later date. Selected proposals are valid during the forthcoming research term as a general rule.

2.2 Notwithstanding the article 2.1, the Institution shall accept and promptly review proprietary time-designated proposals including SPring-8 measurement services and urgent proposals that are deemed urgent and important at any time.

2.3 The Institution shall administer the program for non-proprietary grant-aided proposals, which have a compelling need to use SPring-8 and have been reviewed and approved for a large research grant. Under the program, these proposals can obtain beamtime through the partly omitted review process and the program fee is charged.

3. Priority Research Program
3.1 Priority Research Program shall be administered as follows.

Priority Field Type:
The Institution shall designate research fields that are expected to produce high-quality research results or fields of strategic significance for industrial applications based on recommendations from the SPring-8 Selection Committee, and invite proposals only from the designated fields.

Priority User Type:
The Institution shall designate the user group (Partner User [PU]) who have full knowledge of SPring-8 characteristics and are highly likely to produce constant research results based on the recommendations from the SPring-8 Selection Committee. The PU are required to produce outstanding research results through the conduct of PU proposals and provide support for general users.

Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects:
The Institution shall select research groups who create and develop unexplored fields in combined and interdisciplinary research beyond the boundaries of traditional fields based on recommendations from the SPring-8 Selection Committee.

3.2 The Institution shall make public announcement of the designated priority fields, PUs and Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects.

4. Review Criteria for Selecting Research Proposals
Research proposals of a wide range of scientific disciplines shall be fully peer-reviewed and then selected under the criteria outlined below.

Proposal selection should be based on the Science and Technology Basic Plan and other related national policies while balancing international cooperation and competitiveness. At the same time, the Institution shall seek to ensure that creative and pioneering research proposals are approved and take into consideration if the applicants have produced results in the past. As for proposals that are expected to produce results contributing to industrial base technologies, the Institution considers that the accumulation of studies is of great importance and proposals should not be rejected just because of the similarity to the proposals in the past. Furthermore, proposals contributing to training researchers should also be noted.

4.1 Scientific and technical relevance (One of the following criteria shall be fulfilled.):
a) The proposed research is cutting edge and its science and technology field has potential/will contribute to the development of a new research field.
b) Expected results will contribute to basic research areas and the field of fundamental technology development.
c) Expected results have significance and potential as industrial base technology.
d) The proposed research has social significance and will contribute to the social economy.

4.2 Necessity of SPring-8 as a research tool.

4.3 Conformity to the Science and Technology Basic Law and social norms: the implementation of the research proposal is appropriate in light of the Law and socially accepted ideas, e.g., the implementation of the proposed research and the use of research results are exclusively for peaceful purposes.

4.4 Technical feasibility.

4.5 Safety of the experiment.

4.6 As for long-term proposals, applicants will go through a two-step review process; application forms are reviewed initially and applicants who meet certain criteria will proceed to the interview. In addition to the criteria above, following points are also considered:
a) The proposal has clear scientific objectives and long-term research plans,
b) The long-term and organized use of SPring-8 will create:
i) delivering outstanding scientific results in the field of science and technology,
ii) developing a new research area or a new experimental method, and
iii) significantly improving industrial base technology.

4.7 Proprietary proposals shall be reviewed under the criteria 4.3 through 4.5 above.

4.8 Non-proprietary grant-aided proposals shall be reviewed under the criteria 4.2 through 4.5 above.

4.9 As for Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects, applicants will go through a two-step review processes; application forms are reviewed initially and applicants who meet certain creation will proceed to the interview. In addition to the criteria 4.1 through 4.5 above, following points are also considered:

  • The creation of a new research field is expected
  • The structure of the applicant research group is novel
  • The sustainable development of research is expected
  • The research plan is effective in terms of labor and cost, and the management system for ensuring the effectiveness is appropriate

4.10 If a particular review process specific to the characteristics of a research discipline is needed to review priority research proposals, another set of criteria may be added to the criteria 4.1 through 4.5. As for the criteria for selecting PU proposals, the Institution shall provide the criteria separately and make public announcement of the criteria.

5. Selection of Research Proposals
5.1 General proposals and priority research proposals shall be reviewed by the SPring-8 Proposal Review Committee (SPring-8 PRC) and the review results shall be discussed at the SPring-8 Selection Committee.

5.2 Under the SPring-8 PRC, the Institution shall establish subcommittees and assign one research discipline to each subcommittee. Each subcommittee may have a pool of referees.

5.3 The Institution shall select proposals based on the results of the SPring-8 Selection Committee discussion.

5.4 PU are reviewed by the PU Review Committee and the review results shall be discussed at the SPring-8 Selection Committee.

5.5 The Institution shall designate PUs based on the results of the SPring-8 Selection Committee discussion.

5.6 Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects are reviewed by the Epoch-Making Initiatives Review Committee and the review results shall be discussed at the SPring-8 Selection Committee.

5.7 The Institution shall select Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects based on the results of the SPring-8 Selection Committee discussion.

5.8 The Institution shall make the results of proposal selection, PU designation and Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects selection available to the public. The information for the public announcement shall be managed appropriately in accordance with the “Information Management Principles for the Usage Promotion Services at the Specific Synchrotron Radiation Facilities” provided separately by the Institution.

5.9 Long-term proposals, PUs and Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects shall be reviewed about these results or others by using SPring-8.

5.10 As for the Priority Research Program and Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects, the SPring-8 Selection Committee shall discuss about post-project reviews after the duration of priority fields, PU designation and Epoch-Making Initiatives Projects selection.

6. Research Study by the Institution
Researchers affiliated with the Institution shall conduct research study using a certain amount of beamtime in order to promote research using SPring-8 with the approval from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology based on the provisions of Article 12 of the “Act on the Promotion of Public Utilization of the Specific Advanced Large Research Facilities.”

7. Provision of Information about Public Use Facilities
The Institution shall disseminate information about the technical information such as the specifications, performance and operation schedule of the Public Beamlines, and other information regarding the proposal calls and selection and user statistics in the technical bulletins published by the Institution and on the websites. As the need arises, the Institution shall provide information regarding the latest operational status and technical information and give technical advice for those who wish to use the Public Beamlines through the websites and other proper channels.

8. Achievement of Fairness in User Selection Services
Based on the Article 6, Paragraph (2) of the Institution’s Rules of Service, the principles to ensure fairness of the User Selection Services are set out as follows:

8.1 To ensure fairness in the proposal review process, the information about project team members shall not be disclosed to the SPring-8 PRC members or referees. The information may, however, be disclosed to the subcommittee members as deemed necessary to perform their duty.

8.2 To ensure fairness, the names of the members of the SPring-8 PRC, subcommittees, PU Review Committee and Epoch-Making Initiatives Review Committee shall not be made publicly available during their term of service, except for the name of the chairs. For the sake of transparency, their names will be disclosed after their terms expire. The Institution shall not, however, disclose the names of the referees at any time.

II. Proposal Selection for Public Beamlines at X-ray Free Electron Laser Facility (SACLA)

1. Equal Opportunities for Users
As a general rule, the Institution makes the Public Beamlines available for a wide range of research disciplines through open calls for proposals carried out by researchers from home and abroad of industrial, academic, and governmental organizations. For that purpose, the Institution must widely disseminate information about the proposal calls on the websites and through other means. Proposals can be submitted at any time, and the submitted proposals are reviewed twice a year as a general rule. The provisions regarding the timing of proposal selection and the period of user time are announced at a later date. Selected proposals are valid only during the forthcoming half-year research term.

2. Types of Proposals Solicited through an Open Call
The Institution shall solicit the following two types of proposals through an open call:

2.1 General Proposal

2.2 Time-Designated Proposal
In proprietary research, time-designated proposals are accepted and promptly reviewed at any time.

3. Review Criteria for Selecting Research Proposals
Research proposals of a wide range of scientific disciplines shall be fully peer-reviewed and then selected under the criteria outlined below.

Proposal selection should be based on the Science and Technology Basic Plan and other related national policies while balancing international cooperation and competitiveness. Furthermore, proposals contributing to training researchers should also be noted.

3.1 Scientific and technical relevance (One of the following criteria shall be fulfilled.):
3.1.1 The proposed research is of cutting edge scientific and technological value (i.e. innovative and pioneering) or expected to contribute to opening up new possibilities of the SACLA and must meet either of the following criteria:
a) Expected to make a significant scientific contribution.
b) Expected to contribute to increasing industrial use.

3.1.2 The proposed research has social significance or will contribute to the social economy.

3.2 Necessity of the SACLA as a research tool.

3.3 Conformity to the Science and Technology Basic Law and social norms: the implementation of the research proposal is appropriate in light of the Law and socially accepted ideas, e.g., the implementation of the proposed research and the use of research results are exclusively for peaceful purposes.

3.4 Technical feasibility.

3.5 Safety of the experiment.

3.6 Proprietary proposals shall be reviewed under the criteria 3.3 through 3.5 above.

4. Selection of Research Proposals
4.1 Research proposals shall be reviewed by the SACLA Proposal Review Committee (SACLA PRC) and the review results shall be discussed at the SACLA Selection Committee.

4.2 SACLA PRC may have a pool of referees.

4.3 The Institution shall select proposals based on the results of the SACLA Selection Committee discussion.

4.4 The Institution shall make the results of proposal selection available to the public. The information for the public announcement shall be managed appropriately in accordance with the “Information Management Principles for the Usage Promotion Services at the Specific Synchrotron Radiation Facilities” provided separately by the Institution.

5. Research Study by the Institution
Researchers affiliated with the Institution shall conduct research study using a certain amount of beamtime in order to promote research using the SACLA with the approval from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology based on the provisions of Article 12 of the “Act on the Promotion of Public Utilization of the Specific Advanced Large Research Facilities.”

6. Provision of Information about Public Use Facilities
The Institution shall disseminate information about the technical information such as the specifications, performance and operation schedule of the Public Beamlines, and other information regarding the proposal calls and selection and user statistics in the technical bulletins published by the Institution and on the websites. As the need arises, the Institution shall provide information regarding the latest operational status and technical information and give technical advice for those who wish to use the Public Beamlines through the websites and other proper channels.

7. Achievement of Fairness in User Selection Services
Based on the Article 6, Paragraph (2) of the Institution’s Rules of Service, the principles to ensure fairness of the User Selection Services are set out as follows:

7.1 To ensure fairness, the names of the members of the SACLA PRC shall not be made publicly available during their term of service, except for the name of the chair. For the sake of transparency, their names will be disclosed after their terms expire.

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