Proposal Preparation Guidelines

Submit your proposal early to avoid a last-minute crisis at the proposal cutoff time. The proposal deadline is strictly enforced.

The following modes of access are available to users:

 

Regular User Proposals

We recommend that scientists describe well-posed experiments that can be accomplished in ~12-60 hours of beam time. Proposals must include brief discussions of the expected scientific or technological impact and anticipated feasibility and probability of success of experiments. Proposals that include a clear description of the expected shift-by-shift schedule indicating the scope within each 12-hour shift have a better chance of fitting into a tightly constrained Run.

Each Regular User Proposal is for one specific experiment. Proposals can be re-submitted at each call, but this will not happen automatically and a re-submission will not receive preference during the review process. There is no limit to the number of proposals that can be submitted by a scientist or team, but multiple similar proposals from the same team members may not be reviewed favorably by the Proposal Review Panel (PRP).

Regular User Proposals may be made in the context of a larger scope than can be covered in a single experiment. All proposals, even these broader proposals that address important problems, must be resubmitted each cycle in order to be peer reviewed and considered for beam time. However, in the absence of sufficient information to evaluate progress (data disseminated from previous beam time, publications, etc.), the PRP may recommend or LCLS may decide that some proposal(s) be postponed for consideration until a future review cycle. From Run 18, a new form of proposal allowing for extended scope is being trialed (see “Scientific Campaigns” below).

The PRP will pay particular attention to the applicants' publication record from prior LCLS beamtimes. Failure to publish in a timely manner will impact the chances of a successful application in a similar area.

Required Content for Your Regular User Proposal

Provide a descriptive title of your proposed experiment that you would be willing to be made public if awarded beam time.

Provide an abstract that concisely (less than 1,950 characters) summarizes the proposed experiment, quantities to be measured, samples to be studied, expected scientific results and impact. The more detailed proposal text is limited to 6 pages in PDF format, not including the additional one page for the standard configuration table, or a one page progress report of previous beam time which can be uploaded separately. Proposals should include the following information (include the spokesperson's name in the upper right-hand corner of each page):

  1. Experimental Team: In a table, list the names, institution, email address of PIs and collaborators who would participate in the proposed experiment (e.g., sample prep, theory, data collection, data analysis). This section could also briefly mention directly-relevant previous work done by the team members.
  2. Scientific Case: Briefly explain the background and significance of your experiment. In particular, why is LCLS required for this experiment? Itemize the specific aims and particular questions you want to answer. Focus on the specific experiment and avoid broad discussions in general terms.
  3. Experimental Procedure: Provide specific information so that the feasibility of this experiment at the requested LCLS instrument can be evaluated. Tell us if you plan or have carried out supporting experiments at other facilities. Have simulations of the experiment been performed? What are the anticipated data rates? Provide a beam time plan, indicating what could be accomplished shift by shift. Describe any additional equipment you plan to bring to LCLS for the experiment (see policy on end-stations).

We strongly recommend that you contact LCLS instrument scientist(s) before proposal submission to discuss capabilities, to identify possible problems in integrating external equipment with the LCLS facility and to determine possible solutions.

  1. Technical Feasibility: Proposals must contain sufficient information for the LCLS to review the proposal for technical feasibility. This information should include:
    • Equipment
      • Which elements of the proposed instrument do you require for the proposal?
      • What additional equipment is needed, including laser, detector, sample delivery/environment, temperature, pressure, etc?
      • How do you plan to provide/organize the additional equipment?
    • Parameters
      • Describe X-ray wavelength, pulse energy, bandwidth, beam size, repetition rate, pulse duration
      • If laser is required, describe laser wavelength, pulse energy, bandwidth, beam size, repetition rate, pulse duration, timing, geometry.
    • Experimental protocol
      • Describe the experimental geometry.
      • Calculate the expected signal rate/background.
      • Describe samples and concentrations, sample preparation and storage.
      • Describe local facilities that may be required.

As part of the proposal process, we will contact the Spokesperson for proposals that have the potential of being awarded beamtime. The Spokesperson will be asked to provide specific experimental parameters via a questionnaire to help inform the viability and schedule.

  1. Progress Report: When submitting a new proposal, also upload a brief progress report summarizing proposals that have previously received LCLS beam time; include proposal number(s), date(s) of experiment, instrument(s) used, a brief summary of how experiment time was used and results disseminated (list major invited talks, papers published or in press, awards or special recognition). NOTE: User publications are extremely important in demonstrating the scientific impact of LCLS.

Proposal teams must inform and acknowledge LCLS and the DOE Office of Science in presentations and publications using this template: "Use of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515."

  1. Addenda: New information that becomes available after the proposal deadline must be submitted by October 22, 2019. Addenda are limited to one page and must be consistent with the original scope of the proposal. LCLS management will determine if the supplemental information meets the criteria to forward such material to the PRP. Forward addenda to the LCLS User Office (lcls-user-office@slac.stanford.edu).

Scientific Campaign Proposals

Scientific campaigns are a new mechanism to support more extensive research “programs” or campaigns, conducted by a research team of experts (e.g. synthesis, experiment, theory etc.) that require a series of beamtimes. The scientific scope and impact of the proposed research should be well above a Regular Proposal as described above. To ensure overall balance of the LCLS scientific portfolio, only a small amount of beamtime (<10%) will be awarded to scientific campaigns, and thus very few proposals will be approved.

Submission of a Scientific Campaign proposal requires advanced submission approval from the LCLS Director - based on a brief Letter of Interest (LOI) to be followed by further discussion with LCLS staff. Scientific Campaign proposals are to be submitted to the LCLS User Portal using the campaign proposal submission form and campaign proposal template.

A Scientific Campaign proposal may only be submitted based on approval of the LOI by the LCLS Director.

In addition to the requirements outlined above for a “regular proposal”, the full proposal must follow the template (to be provided), and must include:

  • Clear and compelling motivation based on a “grand-challenge” scale science problem, addressing priority science mission (e.g. of DOE or others as appropriate). The science impact must be significant (and widely recognizable) with high chance of success.
    Will the proposed sequence of experiments result in a qualitative advance on an important science challenge?
  • Well-defined scope and objectives, with clear justification for a series of beamtimes. This must include objective milestones of what is expected to be accomplished in each beamtime, and how this advances the larger goal of the Scientific Campaign.
    What scientific advance will be accomplished, how, by whom, and over what period of time?
    Could this be accomplished through a
    Regular Proposal?
  • Clear and well-justified need for unique capabilities and expertise of LCLS, close partnership with the LCLS facility as evidenced by strong involvement of LCLS/SLAC staff, and clear explanation of all the essential needs for a successful Scientific Campaign, and how these needs will be met (e.g. other facilities, personnel, expertise, resources etc.)
    Why is LCLS essential for the proposed Scientific Campaign?
    Why is this in the strategic interest (scientific and/or technical) of LCLS?
    Are all the other essential elements for success identified and arranged?

Scientific Campaign proposals are subject to more extensive external review (and LCLS SAC oversight), as described in the LCLS Proposal Review Process. Scientific Campaign proposals that are not awarded beamtime as a “campaign” may be considered for allocation of a single beamtime following the review process for Regular Proposals. The scope, objectives, and milestones (see above) should be written with this in mind. Consequently, the submission of a substantially similar Regular Proposal (for the same run) is not encouraged.

Scientific Campaigns that are awarded beamtime will be required to provide regular updates and progress reports to the LCLS Director. Continuation of a Scientific Campaign will depend on the demonstration of suitable progress toward the identified goals. Scientific Campaigns that do not demonstrate suitable progress may be ended early and directed toward the Regular Proposal process for the next run.

Protein Crystal Screening (PCS) Proposals

PCS proposals follow a similar format as regular proposals and must be submitted separately. Proposals are evaluated on the impact, originality, need for LCLS, scientific risk, prior results, as well as technical feasibility.

Provide a descriptive title of your proposed experiment that you would be willing to be made public if awarded beam time.

The proposal text is limited to 2 pages in PDF format. Pages should have at least 1 inch margins and not less than 10 pt font. It should include the following information:

  • Experimental Team: In a table, list the names, institution, email address of PIs and collaborators who would participate in the proposed experiment (e.g., sample prep, theory, data collection, data analysis). This section could also briefly mention directly-relevant previous work done by the team members.
  • Scientific Case: Briefly explain the background and significance of your experiment. In particular, why is LCLS required for this experiment? Itemize the specific aims and particular questions you want to answer. Focus on the specific experiment and avoid broad discussions in general terms.
  • Experimental Procedure: If the PCS proposal is related to one or more regular LCLS proposals that have been submitted or already received beam time, state this in the proposal. Tell us if you plan or have carried out supporting experiments at other facilities. Have simulations of the experiment been performed? What are the anticipated data rates? Provide a beam time plan, indicating what could be accomplished in less than 6 hours of beam time. Describe any additional equipment you plan to bring to LCLS for the experiment. We strongly recommend that you contact LCLS Scientist Mark Hunter (mhunter2@slac.stanford.edu) before proposal submission to discuss capabilities, to identify possible problems in integrating external equipment with LCLS instrumentation and to determine possible solutions.
  • Technical Feasibility: Proposals must contain sufficient information for LCLS to review the proposal for technical feasibility. This information should include:                    
    • Equipment                                                     
      • Which elements of the proposed instrument do you require for the proposal?
      • What additional equipment is needed, including detector, sample delivery/environment, temperature, pressure, etc.?
      • How do you plan to provide/organize the additional equipment?
    • Experimental Protocol                                               
      • Describe the experimental geometry.
      • Calculate the expected signal rate/background.
      • Describe samples and concentrations, sample preparation and storage.
      • Describe local facilities that may be required.

* Safety related documents must be submitted during the safety management portion of the LCLS proposal submission process in the user portal. List and describe any safety concerns that may arise with samples you will examine, equipment you will use, or techniques you will perform (including any physical, chemical or biological hazards) and how these issues will be addressed in the experiment design.

See proposal evaluation criteria and review process »