Proposal Opportunities

EMSL provides access to its expertise, instruments and facilities through several different mechanisms, all designed to ensure we're accelerating solutions for national energy and environmental challenges.

EMSL offers three types of user proposals, described below, including Annual Call, General and Scientific Partner. Preference is given to user proposals submitted in response to announced calls or cycles for proposals. General proposals requesting one year of access or less may be submitted at any time during the year and will be reviewed based on the type of access detailed below. Researchers are strongly urged to carefully review the proposal options and review process before submitting a new proposal. If you have any questions regarding EMSL's proposal opportunities, please contact User Support

Annual and Special Calls for Proposals
Annual Calls are usually issued in the winter (mid-December or January) and may include options to focus on Science Theme topics, team on larger research campaigns, or use multiple facilities (e.g., the JGI-EMSL call for collaborative science as part of the FICUS initiative). Proposals are encouraged that couple experiments with theory, modeling or simulation, and access is typically granted beginning October 1 following award decisions.  Details of the Annual Call and any special requirements for the different options offered are provided in the Call announcement. 

In addition, EMSL may from time to time announce special calls outside of the annual schedule. These special opportunities follow schedules for review and access that are customized for the call.  Annual or special ad hoc Calls are advertised through a variety of methods including notices on our website, alerts in the User Portal, EMSL Announcements and social media. Not already subscribed to receive our EMSL Announcements? Click here to subscribe.

Learn more about our annual or special Calls for Proposals and the various options available.

General Proposals
General proposals are shorter-term proposals (generally one year or less) that offer a way for scientists to get acquainted with the staff and capabilities at EMSL. Successful proposals are aligned with the areas of interest outlined in the Annual Call and provide an opportunity for researchers to expand a previous proof-of-principle experiment or gain preliminary data that can be used when responding to the next Annual Call. The scope can vary from a single, focused experiment to a multi-resource set of studies, and may include requests for special consideration. General proposals are valid only for the fiscal year in which they are accepted. EMSL's fiscal year runs October 1 - September 30. That means that a proposal accepted in December 2014 could be valid up to September 30, 2015. 

Learn more about general proposals, the deadlines for submission if you intend to compete for staff support, and the type of requests that can be made for special consideration.

Scientific Partner Proposals
Letters of Intent for Scientific Partner proposals can be submitted at any time throughout the year and can include users or groups of users who wish to partner with staff at EMSL to improve an existing capability or develop and build new or unique capabilities that enhance EMSL’s user program. Pending approval of a Letter of Intent, a full proposal may be requested and awarded for a period of time contingent upon strategic needs and resource availability at EMSL.

Learn more about partner proposals.

Proprietary or Non-proprietary?
Although a limited amount of access may be available for research that restricts information or intellectual property, most research conducted at EMSL is nonproprietary, with results disseminated to the scientific community through publications in the open literature or conference presentations and papers. Authors of nonproprietary proposals may retain rights to intellectual property (IP) resulting from the use of EMSL, but the government is granted a nonexclusive license to use the IP under a NonProprietary User Agreement with the author's institution. Authors of proprietary proposals are restricted to the shorter-term General proposal option and may identify the proprietary needs on the proposal form. Proprietary proposals are reviewed on a need-to-know basis by EMSL management.

Tips for Writing Successful Proposals

  • Contact the appropriate Capability Lead to discuss resource requirements before submitting a proposal. They can help determine the technical feasibility and approach and suggest ways to strengthen your proposal by integrating additional capabilities.
  • Understand EMSL’s science priorities and science themes.
  • Take the time to fully understand what should be included in your submission packet by reviewing the Proposal Guidance. Requirements may differ from previous years and can vary based on the applicable proposal type.
  • Submit your proposal via EMSL's User Portal before the published deadlines if you're competing under the annual Calls or General cycles.

Learn about more Tips for Writing Successful Proposals.