Access to EXCITE
The 4th call is open until August 31st, 2023!
The EXCITE project offers free-of-charge transnational access (TNA) to equipment from world-class European Earth Science research facilities that use X-ray and electron microscopy for structural and chemical imaging and analysis of Earth materials. TNA involves a researcher conducting science at a research facility located in a country other than the one in which they are working. During the first three TNA calls, more than 150 scientific projects have been supported by the EXCITE network. In this 4th TNA call, access to 17 facilities hosting 43 pieces of equipment will be provided by the EXCITE community. In this call, applications from users employed by SMEs or large enterprises will also be accepted and are encouraged.
Electron and X-ray microscopy facilities are accessible under two access modes:
The type of access mode provided differs per facility and equipment. An overview of the access to each facility and the facility manager contact details can be found via this link.
The 4th TNA call will be open for applications from 15 June, 2023, to 31 August, 2023 (23:59 CET).
During this period, proposals can be submitted at any time.
Projects accepted under this call can start as early as 1st November, 2023 and must be completed by 31th March, 2024. All user reports must be provided by 15 April 2024.
Potential users must contact the facility managers before submitting a proposal for TNA to discuss technical aspects of their projects.
Proposals must meet specific EU, EXCITE and TNA facility rules to be eligible for TNA:
Reimbursement of TNA projects is limited to:
- Remote service: max. € 100 for shipping of samples per project.
- Physical access:
- travel from EU* and EFTA countries$: max. € 300 travel, max. € 150 per day housing and subsistence.
- travel from all other countries: max. € 1000 travel, max. € 150 per day housing and subsistence.
Note that: i) reimbursement limits are per project and not per person, ii) restrictions may apply to the number of people allowed in a facility at a single time, iii) reimbursement procedure differs per facility and you are therefore encouraged to contact the facility manager for details, and iv) health-related measures could be imposed by the facility or by public authorities that limit or prohibit physical access to a facility. The final decision on the mode of access, duration of the visit, and number of visitors allowed, always rests with the facility manager.
* = EU + countries associated with Horizon 2020 (Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Morocco, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom).
$ = Countries listed above + Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
EXCITE uses a web-based platform, called the Facility Access SysTem (FAST), to handle the application and review process. You can find information on how to use FAST in the FAQ section. Below are the steps you go through in the application process:
How to apply
The evaluation and selection of the TNA proposals shall be completed within 6-8 weeks after the call has closed. The selection process consists of i) a formal technical feasibility assessment conducted by the manager of the requested facility, and ii) a review of the scientific excellence of the proposal by two scientific reviewers.
i) Technical feasibility assessment
All submitted applications will be screened to verify eligibility criteria, then forwarded to the designated facility manager, who will make a final assessment of the technical feasibility of the submitted proposal. The technical feasibility of the proposal will be assessed on:
- Rationale for the requested equipment and methodology with which to analyze the samples;
- Justification for the number of samples and requested access units;
- Sample information, e.g., sample size, geometry and type (thin sections/mounts/rock chips/plugs/cores/etc.), sample preparation, and the nature of the material(s) to be analyzed.
During this assessment, it is at the discretion of the facility manager to make minor amendments to the proposal (e.g. fewer/more units of access needed to fulfill the research objectives). In addition, it is possible that the proposal is redirected to another EXCITE facility with similar technical capabilities, if this is deemed necessary by the facility manager. Note that the applicant always has the right to withdraw their application if they disagree.
If an application is considered not feasible, it will not go through to the scientific review, and the applicant will be informed that their application did not pass the technical feasibility assessment.
ii) Scientific review
After a successful technical feasibility assessment, the proposal will be sent for scientific review to the TNA Review Panel, consisting of an independent group of international scientists without affiliation to the selected TNA facility, with expertise in a broad range of scientific disciplines, as well as in X-ray and electron microscopy and microanalytical techniques.
Evaluation of the TNA project proposal will be made in accordance with the EXCITE TNA General Principles and assessed on the basis of the scientific excellence of the proposal, which will be assessed against the following criteria:
- Suitability of the proposed methodology for answering the research question(s);
- The rationale for, and link between, the objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes of the study;
- The innovativeness and timeliness of the proposed research, and the scientific significance of the expected outcome(s);
- Structure and writing style of the proposal.
The review will be blind, and principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality will be applied throughout the whole revision process. Priority will be given to the scientific merit, but the selection will also take into account if the applicants;
- are early-career scientists [i.e. An Early Career Scientist (ECS) is a student, a PhD candidate, or a practicing scientist who received their highest certificate (e.g. BSc, MSc or PhD) within the past seven years];
- have not previously used the facility;
- are working in countries where no equivalent research infrastructure exists.
After the review process, accepted projects are allocated to their desired facility, or redirected to an alternative facility in consultation with the applicant and facility manager.
Following proposal approval, the user has to accept the general EXCITE TNA data policy, with which they:
- Acknowledge the project and the support from the EC in the Horizon 2020 Programme, in any publication resulting from work carried out in the context of the TNA Activity in EXCITE (standard statement ‘this publication results from work carried out under transnational access action under the support of EXCITE – EC- HORIZON 2020 – INFRAIA 2020 Integrating Activities for Starting Communities under grant agreement N. 101005611’).
- Ensure that the data resulting from the TNA are published in an appropriate data repository under a CC:BY 4.0 license after a maximum moratorium period of 2 years after completion of the TNA project.
- Ensure that peer-reviewed publication(s) resulting from the data acquired under the TNA activity will be made available open access.
Users employed by large enterprises are required to follow the EXCITE TNA data policy. Users employed by SMEs are encouraged to follow the EXCITE TNA data policy but are not obligated to do so.
Before access: Access Agreement
After notification that the project is granted access, the user, before access, needs to contact the facility to sign an Access Agreement with the TNA facility, which covers the mode of access, access units, compliance with Health and Safety regulations, data processing, management and publication specifics, confidentiality, and liability, related to the TNA project. In certain cases the TNA facility can request for co-authorship on the scientific and/or data publications resulting from the TNA project. The Access Agreement must be signed before access can start, and the user is requested to send the signed agreement to the facility manager.
Please upload a copy of the signed access agreement in this repository.
All users involved in physical access need to be covered by medical insurance when conducting the TNA visit (either through the employing institution, or through a personal insurance if the institution does not fully cover the user when working abroad);
After access: Project reporting
After completing their TNA project, the user is requested to:
- Visit the EXCITE TNA documents webpage and download a copy of the TNA user Scientific & Expense report template
- Fill in all the parts of the template that include a description of the scientific activity carried out at the facility, and the breakdown of expenses incurred during the visit.
- The report must be checked and signed by your host facility before submission as well as the receipts, which will be checked for reimbursement (please read the EXCITE TNA funding & reporting guidelines).
- Submit the signed Scientific and expenses report, including all necessary reimbursement documentation, at this link.
- During the submission, the user will be requested to complete a feedback questionnaire about the TNA experience.
- Collect and store the raw data/results of the TNA project as per the Access agreement with the host TNA facility.
The users of the selected proposals might be invited to participate and have the opportunity to present their research results at the next annual EXCITE meeting.
Confidentiality of personal data
Curious to learn more?
Twenty-four European facilities for electron and X-ray microscopy are joining hands. To better understand Earth and planetary materials and to together unveil the secret codes hidden under our feet. Curious? Like to learn more? Interested in gaining access to our EXCITE Imaging facilities? Please enter your email address and be one of the first geoscientists to be informed when we open calls for proposals. Other questions? Contact us here.