Changes for ISIS Users – things which might affect you! (August 2014)

ISIS is making a variety of changes to its processes and procedures for facility users. These changes follow discussions with the ISIS User Committee and Facility Access Panel chairs at a meeting in July.

Notes from the ISIS User Committee and FAP Chair meeting can be found on the ISIS User Committee web page.

Proposal routes – how to get beamtime

A full summary of proposal access routes to ISIS can be found here.  The changes that we are making to these are:

  • We are wanting to help users get beamtime more rapidly when this is required.  Please consider using the Rapid Access mechanism when you need beamtime for a full proposal more rapidly than you can get it through the normal, direct access (deadline) route. There are a variety of reasons why you might need time more rapidly: student or post-doc needing time to complete their studies; a new sample that’s just been created; follow-on time needed for an experiment that’s just been run on a different instrument, etc.  We want to encourage use of this route where this helps your science. However, please discuss your needs with the relevant ISIS instrument scientist before putting a Rapid Access proposal in. 
  • Xpress access is available for very short measurements, in principle on any ISIS instrument. The measurement might be to check a sample, or to get a final data point for a paper, or to get a crystal structure quickly.  You can send samples in and the measurement will be run by an ISIS scientist.  Please contact the relevant instrument scientist to discuss your needs before putting an Xpress proposal in. Xpress measurements need to be simple, not requiring much setup or any non-standard safety case.
  • We are removing the Programme Access mechanism, as it is not heavily used. Existing approved programmes will run as they have to the end of their period, but we will not accept any new requests. Instead, we are asking proposers to include a description of their wider research programme and how it is supported (e.g. by grants) within the science case of normal proposals.
  • We are going to provide more guidance on the structure of the 2-page proposal science case which is required when submitting a proposal.  Please follow this structure – it ensures that the correct information is included for Facility Access Panels to review proposals.

ISIS Experimental Reports  

  • Experimental reports provide a record of how ISIS beamtime has been used.  Our success rates in receiving these have dropped, and we are wanting to relaunch them to ensure that a report is received for every ISIS experiment, and to make sure that these are available to Facility Access Panels particularly for assessing continuation proposals.  We will provide a new template for reports, and we will introduce a reminder system to alert users to the need for a report after an experiment is completed.

Changes to travel and subsistence arrangements for UK users  

The following changes for UK users will come into effect from the next proposal round:

  • We will limit the maximum number of users supported per experiment to 3 (from 4) unless a case is made for the higher number to the ISIS User Programme Manager.
  • Additional nights’ stay at RAL can now be supported beyond the duration of an experiment where preparation or characterisation facilities at RAL are being used, with agreement from your ISIS local contact.
  • During normal working hours, users arriving at Didcot station will need to take the local bus to RAL if they wish to have their costs reimbursed; users will still be able to take taxis outside of normal working hours. The bus timetable from Didcot to RAL is given here.
  • Rules for consumables claims for UK users are changing.  This is to provide clarity over what is eligible, together with enabling costs in this area, which have risen rapidly over recent years, to be better managed. The specific rules will appear here very shortly.

Publication of proposal summary information

In line with other research councils who make available summary information on funded research, ISIS will make publicly available summary information from proposals awarded beamtime.  Information will be published via the Research Councils ‘Gateway to Research’ site. We will make it clear within the ISIS proposal system which information will be made public.

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