How to Submit a Proposal

1. Select an Instrument

View the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) instruments to determine which is best suited for your research.

2. Contact the Instrument Scientist

Once you select an instrument, contact the appropriate scientist to ensure your research is feasible and receive answers to your initial questions. The instrument scientists are listed on each instrument page.

The scientists can help:

  • Determine if the desired instrument and facility are the best fit for your research.
  • Estimate the amount of facility time needed and justify the requested amount.
  • Determine the proposal type best suited for your proposed research.
  • Provide constructive comments on your Statement of Research.

3. Choose a Proposal Type

Proposal types will vary depending on research and experiment details. The appropriate proposal type for your research can be determined here.

4. Identify Additional Resources

Sample Environment

The Sample Environment group provides a variety of resources for experiments at HFIR and SNS in the areas of soft matter, magnetism, low and high temperatures, engineering materials, and high pressure.

Center for Nanophase and Materials Sciences Characterization

HFIR and SNS, in partnership with the Center for Nanophase Materials Science (CNMS), allow users to request CNMS characterization time within a neutron proposal if the main part of the proposed work will be carried out at HFIR and SNS.

You can indicate interest in requesting characterization time at CNMS during the instrument selection section of your neutron proposal. A representative from CNMS will contact you to discuss further.

If the proposal’s primary purpose is to obtain access to the CNMS facility for synthesis, submit a proposal directly to CNMS.

User Laboratories

Users Laboratories are available at HFIR and SNS to provide a convenient and safe location for experiment preparation and post-experiment sample analysis.

Access to these laboratories can be requested during the confirmation process for approved proposals.

5. Register for an Account

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Guest Portal is the gateway to essential resources for users, such as IPTS, data access and analysis systems, sample handling information, and visitor information. New users must register in the ORNL Guest Portal to create an ORNL Resource account to log in to these resources.

Returning users do not need to register a new account in the ORNL Guest Portal and can use their existing XCAMS User ID to log in.  

To register a new account:

  1. Go to the ORNL Guest Portal.
  2. Click on “Register” to create a new account.
  3. Fill out the Profile Information and click on “Create Account.”

6. Create a Proposal

All proposals are created and submitted in the Integrated Proposal Tracking System (IPTS). When creating a new proposal, users are guided through the proposal creation process and prompted to supply the necessary experiment information. The IPTS Proposal Form page provides a guide to the content required in your proposal.

Statement of Research

The Statement of Research is an essential part of a proposal. This two-page document should describe the purpose, importance, and goal of the research to be conducted at HFIR or SNS. Please review Writing Your Statement of Research to help you prepare and write this important element of your proposal.

The template for the General User Statement of Research can be downloaded here.

7. Proposal Review

All proposals are reviewed and rated for feasibility, safety, and the potential for high-impact science. If a proposal is submitted during a periodic proposal call, the principal investigator (PI) for each submitted proposal can expect to receive notification of review results within eight weeks of the proposal call closing date. The PI will be informed whether their proposal was accepted or rejected for beam time with comments from the review committee. Review the Proposal Rating descriptions below to understand why proposals are or are not selected for beam time.

General User Program Proposal Ratings

Rating Score Description
Extraordinary 5 The proposal involves cutting-edge research of great scientific importance. Proposed research will significantly advance knowledge in a specific field or scientific discipline. The neutron scattering capabilities of HFIR and/or SNS are essential to the success of the proposed work. This proposal must be supported with the highest priority.
Excellent 4 The proposed research is of high quality and has potential for making an important contribution to a specific field or scientific discipline. The work is innovative and is likely to be published in a leading scientific journal. The use of HFIR and/or SNS is highly desirable for the success of the proposed work. It is strongly recommended that this proposal should be supported.
Good 3 The proposed research is inventive and likely to produce publishable results. Impact on a specific field or scientific discipline is likely. The proposed work will greatly benefit from access to HFIR and/or SNS. This proposal should be supported if sufficient resources are available.
Fair 2 The proposed research is interesting but may not significantly impact a specific field or scientific discipline. Publication may or may not result from this research. Neutron scattering capability is required, but the proposed work could be performed at other facilities. This proposal should not be supported if the required resources are limited.
Poor 1 The proposed research is not well-planned or is not feasible. Results would not make important contributions to fundamental or applied understanding, and work is not likely to result in publication. This proposal should not be supported.