Targeted Challenge-driven Proposals

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General Information

Current Call: Molecular Water Science

DESY Photon Science has decided to establish a new access route to PETRA III beamtime via ‘Targeted Challenge-driven Proposals’ which aims at a strategic topic of significant scientific or societal value. The overarching themes will be defined by DESY Photon Science management and published on the website and communicated along with the call for proposals.
The prerequisite for participation in these new 'Targeted Challenge-driven Calls' is a dedicated collaboration of at least three distinct research groups. It is required that the participating groups address a common scientific question from different angles and that they commit to collaborate and share measurement results even before publication. We anticipate that this early collaboration will enable faster progress and greater impact in the scientific field.
The ‘Targeted Challenge-driven Proposals’ comprise at least three subprojects and are intended to provide access to beamtime at one or more beamlines or experimental set-ups at PETRA III.

Approval of the proposal is done as a two-step-procedure:
1) proposals are checked by the DESY Photon Science management for compliance with the general proposal criteria
2) scientific peer review by the Proposal Review Panel.

If finally approved, a maximum number of up to 72 shifts will be made available to each subproject over a 2-year period.

An experimental report will be requested for each beamtime, and joint reports on the project progress will be due after one year and after the end of the project.


  • For a Targeted challenge-driven proposal at least 3 independent research groups are required, each of them being responsible for at least one subproject.
  • Targeted challenge-driven proposals will be valid for two years.
  • The total amount of shifts for the whole proposal depends on the number of subproject. The number of shifts is limited to a maximum of 72 shifts per subproject (1 shift = 8 hours of beamtime).
  • The requested number of shifts has to be well justified and should be distributed over the whole period of two years
  • Proposal members are expected to not submit any additional regular proposals with similar scientific objectives to the same beamlines.

If you have any questions on the regulations and requirements for targeted challenge-driven proposals, it is strongly recommended to contact the User Office, or PETRA III experiment coordinators Oliver Seeck or Hans-Christian Wille prior to proposal submission.

Proposal submission

For proposal submission, a valid DOOR account is required for the leader, coordinator and PI of each subproject (for registration: DOOR)
The following information is required:

  • Proposal text, including part A) and part B) as one PDF file (for details on proposal format and content see below)
  • Persons identified acting as proposal leader and coordinator, one principle investigator (PI) for each subproject
  • The number of shifts has to be well justified and defined for each subproposal.

Proposal Content

Please use the template for 'Targeted Challenge-driven Proposals' which is provided via DOOR and on the right hand side of this page for the preparation of the proposal.

The proposal has to include the following information:

Part A) Summary

  • outline of the proposal: brief description of the project including the overall scientific background, relevance and strategic case. Explain why a 'Targeted Challenge-driven Proposal is required to address the overall scientific objective
  • project plan with distribution of tasks and milestones
  • previous work including selected publications
  • lenght of part A): 2 pages following the layout in the 'Targeted challenge-driven proposal'-template

Part B) Description of each individual subproject

  • list names and affiliations of the PI and other researchers cooperating within the subproject
  • scientific background and significance
  • goals and objectives: Clear description of which information you expect to obtain and how it contributes to the targeted challenge-driven proposal; relevance of the results in your scientific field.
  • safety issues, and special technical requirements (if applicable)
  • length of each subproject: 2 pages following the layout in the 'Targeted challenge-driven proposal'-template

Responsibilities of leader, coordinator and PI of a Targeted Challenge-driven Proposal

Proposal leader
The leader must be an experienced senior scientist.
Tasks: takes over the responsibility for the project as a whole

Proposal coordinator
The coordinator should be an experienced senior scientist.
Tasks: communication between proposal members and subproject responsibles, submission of whole-proposal reports, main contact person for whole-proposal matters. The coordinator is not expected to take care of the administrative steps related to the individual beamtimes (see below). This has to be done by the subproject PI.

Principal investigator (PI)
The PI will act as a contact person for the specific subproject. PIs are responsible for the submission of beamtime application(s) for their subproject via DOOR. They are also responsible for the administrative preparation and handling of the beamtime.

Steps to be taken after proposal acceptance

The proposal leader, coordinator and all PIs will be informed about the acceptance of the proposal via e-mail.
The proposal coordinator should discuss the rough planning of the beamtimes with the PIs and beamtime staff as soon as possible.
For each beamtime the subproject PIs are required to submit experiment specifications (= beamtime applications) for the respective subprojects via DOOR. Please note that experiments can only be scheduled after submission of an experiment specification (=beamtime application).

Tasks before each beamtime to be completed by PI:
1) Submission of a beamtime application (experiment specification) by PI
2) After the requested beamtime has been scheduled the PI will receive an e-mail notification and is then required to complete:
- submission of declaration of substances
- if applicable: chemistry/bio laboratory registration, laser registration etc.
- registration of all experiment participants
- submission of travel support requests (all via DOOR).

Tasks after beamtime:
1) submission of experimental report and feedback form (by PI for each beamtime)
2) submission of whole-project reports (by coordinator for the targeted challenge-driven proposal after year 1 and 2 of the project)
3) registration of all publications based on results of the targeted challenge-driven proposal in the DESY publication database (via DOOR).

Proposal review

Targeted challenge-driven proposals are first reviewed by the Photon Science management for compliance with formal and substantive criteria. If approved, the proposal will be reviewed by a dedicated committee of external reviewers who are experts in the scientific field of the targeted challenge-driven call. Please note that the proposal will be rated as a whole and no ratings will be given for the individual subprojects.

Travel cost reimbursement

Travel cost reimbursement will be offered according to the general rules of DESY Photon Science outlined here.

For each experimental stay, requests for travel reimbursement have to be submitted by the subproject PI via DOOR before the stay at DESY.

Briefly, users from German universities are eligible for travel cost reimbursement including travel, hostel and daily allowance. University users from EU and EU-associated countries can apply for coverage of DESY Hostel costs.
Users from international and German research institutions (e.g. Helmholtz, Leibniz, MPG in Germany) are excluded from travel support.
For each scheduled experimental stay, reimbursement can be requested for a maximum number of three participants. For experimental stays shorter than 3 consecutive shifts not more than two persons will be reimbursed.