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Proprietary Proposals

Proprietary proposals are required for business-sensitive or proprietary research where results are not intended to be published. Researchers who do not intend to publish results and request their information to be kept as business sensitive or proprietary must provide a contract mechanism (PNNL charge code or subcontract number) to cover associated labor and/or instrument time depending on the restriction of data. Proposals containing restricted information will be reviewed under special protocols to maintain confidentiality. For non-federally funded proprietary work, the U.S. Department of Energy requires payment for full-cost recovery of the facilities used, which includes, but is not limited to, labor, equipment usage, consumables, materials, and EMSL staff travel. Access is granted for up to one calendar year.

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How to Submit a Proposal

Follow the steps below to submit your proposal.

Review criteria

User proposals are peer reviewed against five criteria listed below. For each criterion, the reviewer rates the proposal Outstanding, Excellent, Good, Fundamentally Sound, or Questionable Impact as well as providing detailed comments on the quality of the proposal to support each rating, noting specifically the proposal's strengths and weaknesses. The reviewer also provides overall comments and recommendations to support the ratings given. These scores and comments serve as the starting point for Proposal Review Panel (PRP) discussions. The PRP is responsible for the final score and recommendation to EMSL management.   

Criterion 1: Scientific merit and quality of the proposed research (50%) 

Potential Considerations: How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? 

Criterion 2: Qualifications of the proposed research team to achieve proposal goals and contribute to high-impact science (10%) 

Potential Considerations: Does the proposal team, combined with relevant EMSL staff expertise, possess the breadth of skill/knowledge to successfully perform the proposed research and drive progress in this science area? If successful, would the proposed research deliver high-impact products (for example, be publishable in high-impact journals)? 

Note: Impact factors are a measure of the average number of citations per published articles. Journals with higher impact factors reflect a higher average of citations per article and are considered more influential within their scientific field. 

Criterion 3: Relevance of the proposed research to EMSL's mission (10%) 

EMSL’s mission is to accelerate scientific discovery and pioneer new capabilities to understand biological and environmental processes across temporal and spatial scales. EMSL leads the scientific community toward a predictive understanding of complex biological and environmental systems to enable sustainable solutions to the nation’s energy and environmental challenges. 

EMSL supports the mission of the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program in the Department of Energy to achieve a predictive understanding of complex biological, earth, and environmental systems for energy and infrastructure security, independence, and prosperity. BER seeks to understand the biological, biogeochemical, and physical processes that span from molecular and genomics-controlled scales to the regional and global scales that govern changes in watershed dynamics, climate, and the earth system. 

Starting with the genetic information encoded in organisms’ genomes, BER research seeks to discover the principles that guide the translation of the genetic code into the functional proteins and the metabolic and regulatory networks underlying the systems biology of plants and microbes as they respond to and modify their environments. This predictive understanding will enable design and reengineering of microbes and plants underpinning energy independence and a broad clean energy portfolio, including improved biofuels and bioproducts, improved carbon storage capabilities, and controlled biological transformation of materials such as nutrients and contaminants in the environment. 

BER research further advances the fundamental understanding of dynamic, physical, and biogeochemical processes required to systematically develop Earth System models that integrate across the atmosphere, land masses, oceans, sea ice, and subsurface. These predictive tools and approaches are needed to inform policies and plans for ensuring the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and natural resources. 

Note: Projects with direct relevance in these areas will have the best chance for selection. Other projects of scientific significance also are welcomed, but the applicant should clearly outline how the project will further a DOE mission or other areas with economic or societal impact. 

Potential Considerations: What is the relationship of the proposed research to EMSL's mission? Does the research project significantly advance the mission goals? How well does the project plan represent a unique or innovative application or development of EMSL capabilities? 

Criterion 4: Impact of the proposed research on one or more EMSL Science Areas (20%) 

Potential Considerations: Will the proposed research advance scientific and/or technological understanding of issues pertaining to one or more EMSL science areas? To what extent does the proposed research suggest and explore creative and original concepts related to one or more EMSL science areas? How strongly does it relate to the science area's focused topics as outlined in the most recent Call for Proposals? How well will it advance EMSL along the directions specifically outlined in the focused topics? 

Criterion 5: Appropriateness and reasonableness of the request for EMSL resources for the proposed research (10%) 

Potential Considerations: Are EMSL capabilities and resources essential to performing this research? Are the proposed methods/approaches optimal for achieving the scientific objectives of the proposal? Are the requested resources reasonable and appropriate for the proposed research? Does the complexity and/or scope of effort justify the duration of the proposed project–including any modifications to EMSL equipment to carry out research? Is the specified work plan practical and achievable for the proposed research project? Is the amount of time requested for each piece of equipment clearly justified and appropriate?