Becoming a User
The Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) supports structural biology user programs at synchrotron and neutron beamline facilities operated by the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences. These user programs are designed to provide the scientific community access to world-class experimental tools and scientific and technical expertise in support of their research programs, including areas of BER mission relevance. The facilities are open to users from academia, national laboratories, the private sector, and research institutes. Access most often is obtained through peer-reviewed proposals with no charge for users who intend to publish their results. Access is available on a cost-recovery basis for research that is not intended for publication. Prospective users are strongly encouraged to consult with the respective facility staff for information about science opportunities and technical capabilities. Each facility has a well-documented process for beam time allocation. This process is described briefly below with more details available on the individual facility webpages.
Modes of Access
While access mechanism details may vary among the facilities (as described in the links to the right under Additional Information), the main commonalities are:
- General Users: These are individual researchers or groups who need access to the facility to carry out their research. General Users apply for access by submission of a proposal that is evaluated by an external Proposal Review Panel (PRP). The scope of a General User proposal can vary from a single experiment proposal to a program proposal (valid for multiple visits extended over multiple years).
- Partner Users: These are users who also enhance the facility capabilities and/or facility operation, via external financial and/or intellectual capital contributions. The capabilities must be made available to the General Users to benefit the overall User Program and the facility. In recognition of their support, Partner Users are provided access to one or more beamlines over a defined time period.
- Rapid Access: Time-critical research opportunities that demonstrate a need for immediate access can be accommodated through shorter-term allocations to some of the beamlines (varies with the specific facility).
- Proprietary Research: While the majority of user research is in the public domain, and as such must be disseminated by publication in the open literature, access also is provided for proprietary research. Users conducting proprietary research may access the facility as either General Users or as Partners. Full cost recovery is obtained for proprietary research, and efforts are made to secure appropriate intellectual property control for proprietary users to permit them to exploit their experimental results.
- User Agreements: Facility-specific User Agreements for Non-Proprietary and Proprietary Research are required to be executed between the researcher’s institution and the respective facility before work can be performed. They are available at the respective facilities’ User Administration websites.