Conducting Research: Step by Step
Step 1: Apply for Beam Time
- Select an Instrument and a Local Contact
Review the information about our instruments and their capabilities and consult with the appropriate instrument scientist(s) to make sure your research is feasible for the instrument you would like to use.
Because we receive many more than we can accommodate, proposals go through a rigorous review process. After talking with our staff, the second most important step to getting beam time is making sure your proposal provides the review committee with all the information they need to make a valid assessment of your proposal. To help you with that, we've put together some tips for writing a successful proposal.
- Submit Your Proposal
Proposals are submitted through the Integrated Proposal Tracking System (IPTS). The easiest way to create a proposal, get an account, update your information, or retrieve a forgotten password is in the new ORNL User Portal. Your User Portal ID is ported to IPTS.
- Log into the User Portal or Create a New Account
- Create a new proposal from the User Portal top menu or log directly into IPTS
- Within 5 to 10 minutes you will receive an initial e-mail with your user name and password and a second e-mail asking you to log in to synchronize your password with IPTS.
Your Proposal Has Been Accepted – Now What?
Step 2: Before You Arrive
- Complete a User Agreement
Once your proposal is approved, a user agreement must be established between ORNL and your home institution. This agreement (which can be proprietary or nonproprietary) establishes the terms and conditions for experimental work and the disposition of intellectual property. When your proposal is approved, ORNL will contact your institution to initiate an agreement.
- Arrange for Site Access
Before you begin your research at ORNL, you must
- Register with the User Office. You will be contacted via e-mail from the User Office with instructions for registering and getting approval for access to the user facility (HFIR or SNS).
- Complete initial web-based training. Additional training will be completed after you arrive on site.
Conditions for Access
ORNL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory, and access is controlled by DOE policies. Acceptance of an experiment proposal does not guarantee approval for access to buildings and information systems necessary for you to conduct your experiment. Access is dependent on successful completion of necessary training and access approval from the appropriate facility or space manager.
Non-US Citizens: Please note that access to ORNL facilities for all non-U.S. citizens requires permission from DOE and additional processing time for approvals. You will be contacted by the User Office to initiate the access process and then notified when access is granted.
Special Notice: Because of DOE requirements, access requests from foreign nationals with a citizenship from, a birthplace of, or sponsored or employed by a country that is a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ (as defined by the U.S. Department of State) cannot be processed within the time constraints required at the HFIR or SNS facility.
When planning your trip, check our Visitor’s page for entrance instructions, directions, accommodations, and other useful information.
- Prepare for Your Experiment
It's essential to complete any sample preparation and management before you arrive on-site.
- Sample Management and Preparation
All samples will be tracked at both HFIR and SNS and entered into their respective tracking systems. Sample hazards must be identified in the proposal process; further review will be carried out during the experiment approval and review processes.
If shipping your samples to HFIR or SNS, you are responsible for shipping in accordance with relevant federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and applicable facility and ORNL policies and procedures.
All samples will be surveyed for their level of radioactivity at the time of removal from the experimental apparatus and will be stored on-site if the level of activity prohibits their removal from the facility.
Each instrument will have its own capabilities to prepare samples. Contact the appropriate instrument scientist for more details.
- Shipping and Receiving
Please contact the appropriate instrument scientist for your experiment for guidance on shipping and receiving issues.
- Sample Management and Preparation
Step 3: When You Arrive
- Check In at the Visitor's Center and the User Office
- Driving Directions to ORNL, with map to Visitor's Center
- Entrance Instructions (you must have a photo ID to enter the site). Your local contact will have already made arrangements for you to be allowed through the gate after presenting photo identification.
- Proceed to the Visitor's Center At the Visitor's Center, you'll check in and pick up your badge. The staff at the Visitor's Center will direct you to the appropriate facility, where you'll check in with the User Office. Returning users may go directly to the SNS or HFIR site.
- Map of HFIR and SNS
Step 4: When You Leave
- Arrange for Outbound Shipping of Samples & Equipment
Discuss any outbound shipping needs with your instrument contact.
At the end of an experiment, we survey all samples for activation. If a sample's level of radioactivity prohibits its removal from the building, it will be stored on-site until it can be safely shipped to your home institution. If you or your institution cannot take receipt of a sample after the experiment, special arrangements, up to and including payment of disposal or shipping fees, will need to be made.
ORNL staff will determine when samples and user-supplied equipment can be returned after experiment completion. Samples can be stored at ORNL only for a limited period of time and with explicit agreement from the Neutron Scattering Science Division environment, safety, and health manager.
- Submit an End-of-Experiment Report
The principal investigator for an experiment is expected to submit an End-of-Experiment (EoE) report via the proposal management system (IPTS) within 6 months of completion of each experiment. Reports are made available for science reviewers and could affect requests for future beam time. EoE reports are intended as interim summaries of the measurements made during an experiment and do not necessarily need to contain final conclusions or data analysis.
An EoE report is required for each experiment as evidence of productivity to our DOE sponsor. The EoE report also represents a record of accomplishment and provides a benchmark for future proposals. EoE reports may be used as the basis for identifying research which the Neutron Scattering Science program at ORNL might wish to feature as experimental highlights. Highlights will not be produced or published without the consent of the PI.
If you experience difficulty submitting the EoE report, contact the User Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865.574.4600.
- Publish Your Results
After completing your experiment, your primary obligations are to
- Publish your results with suitable acknowledgment of ORNL and the instrument used for the experiment. (Proprietary users are exempt from this requirement.)
- Notify the User Office of all such publications.
Users must credit ORNL in all publications resulting from experiments performed at these facilities. In addition, publications, papers, patents, honors and awards, and their citations must be reported to the User Office to assist the facilities in recording the contributions of its users. Each facility (HFIR or SNS or both) must be acknowledged with this statement:
[Part of the] Research conducted at ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor [and/or Spallation Neutron Source, as appropriate] was sponsored by the Scientific User Facilities Division, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, US Department of Energy.
Please provide bibliographic information for your publications via the Neutron Sciences publications system . If you have questions or need assistance, contact the User Office at email@example.com or 865.574.4600.
- Communicate any Status Changes to the User Office