Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Eligibility

    1. Who is eligible for support?
    2. Are there any age limits?
    3. Do I need to have a PhD?
    4. I am freelance can I apply?
    5. Can I apply to more than one TAF?
    6. Can I apply for a visit to recieve training?
    7. Can I visit a TAF that I visited under earlier frameworks?
    8. If I work in one of the SYNTHESYS institutions, can I apply for Access?
    9. Can I visit a TAF in my country of residence?
    10. Can I reapply if I am unsuccessful?
    11. Can I apply for a repeat visit to a TAF?
  2. Application

    1. What is the maximum visit duration?
    2. What does the award cover?
    3. What is a Per Diem?
    4. Who should act as my host?
    5. Who should provide my supporting statement?
    6. My research requires destructive sampling of Collections material, will this be possible?
    7. My research requires DNA extraction from Collections material, will this be possible?
    8. What if my supporter doesn’t submit the supporting statement before the call deadline?
    9. Why can't supporting statements be sent via email?
    10. What if I accidentally submit the application before I have completed all the fields?
    11. Can I apply now for a visit towards the end of the contract?
  3. Scoring and Visiting

    1. How will my application be scored?
    2. How does the application process work?
    3. How will my application be assessed?
    4. How long after the deadline will I be able to visit?
    5. Do I need to write a report when I leave?
    6. When will I find out if my project has been approved?
  4. Miscellaneous

    1. Why is SYNTHESYS Access limited to 17 Institutions?
    2. How do I add or update outputs from my FP6 SYNTHESYS visit?
    3. Definitions

Answers

Please read through the FAQs before contacting synthesys@nhm.ac.uk with any further queries you may have. If your question is specific to a particular TAF, please refer to the TAF Contact Details page.

  1. Eligibility

    1. Who is eligible for support?

      To be eligible to benefit from access to the infrastructure under the contract, a User Group must satisfy the following two conditions:

      • both the user group leader and the majority of the users must come from Member States or Associated States;
      • both the user group leader and the majority of the users must come from a country other than the country(ies) where the legal entity(ies) operating the infrastructure is(are) established.

      Eligible countries are:
      Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland), Estonia, Finland, France (including Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, La Réunion), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. Plus the Associated Countries of the EU: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Faroe Islands, FYR Macedonia, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Republic of Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey.

    2. Are there any age limits?

      No there are no age restrictions. However, the calls are competitive and preference is given to first time Users with high quality projects. It is essential that you justify your request for access to your chosen TAF. See the application guidelines for more detail.

    3. Do I need to have a PhD?

      No, you do not need a PhD to apply. However you will need to demonstrate why you need access and how the visit will benefit your future research. Applicants will be evaluated by a User Selection Panel and high scores will be awarded to applicants with strong curriculum vitaes and the applicants age, versus experience and publication record, will be taken into account. See the application guidelines for more detail.

    4. I am freelance can I apply?

      Yes, so long as your main activity is scientific research as research outputs, such as published papers, are required from the visits within a reasonable timeframe. Please provide appropriate contact details in the fields provided.

    5. Can I apply to more than one TAF?

      Yes you can apply to more than one TAF per call. However, you must complete an application form per TAF that you wish to visit. You cannot submit more than one application to the same TAF per call.

    6. Can I apply for a visit to recieve training?

      Training can be a component of the visit activity but not the only purpose. It is essential that the focus of the visit is to pursue your own research project. The visit must deliver a research output such as a publication in a journal or a contribution to a PhD Thesis.

    7. Can I visit a TAF that I visited under earlier frameworks?

      Yes you can. You can visit a TAF for up to 60 working days throughout the duration of the contract. However, the User Selection Panel will take into consideration if the applicant has had access to the infrastructure before. Priority is generally given to first time users.

    8. If I work in one of the SYNTHESYS institutions, can I apply for Access?

      Researchers working within a TAF institution are eligible for support, but priority will be given to applicants who are from outside of the SYNTHESYS family.

    9. Can I visit a TAF in my country of residence?

      No.

    10. Can I reapply if I am unsuccessful?

      Yes, however, you will need to discuss your application with your proposed host before re-applying. Sometimes the User Selection Panels will provide feedback on your application. This will help you to strengthen the weaker parts of your application.

    11. Can I apply for a repeat visit to a TAF?

      Yes, although it is advisable that you have evidence of outputs resulting from your previous visit before you reapply and you will need strong justification for requiring a repeat visit. The User Selection Panel will take into consideration if the applicant has had access to the infrastructure before. Priority is generally given to first time users.

  2. Application

    1. What is the maximum visit duration?

      The maximum visit duration is 60 working days per TAF over the 4-year duration of the Contract. Please note that visit lengths under Framework 6 were for an average 15 working days. Applications for visits of 60 working days are highly exceptional. It is possible to apply for several short visits under different calls, but a maximum total of 60days will be awarded.

    2. **Please note all Call 4 visits must be completed by 3rd August 2013.  Applications for visits after this date cannot be considered.***
    3. What does the award cover?

      The award covers all research costs in the form of a daily rate. This will be calculated directly from your application form and therefore you need to have discussed your project with your proposed host in advance of submission. You will not be required to formulate a budget.

      The award also covers the cost of your international travel, based on an apex fare, local accommodation and a per diem which contributes towards your subsistence and local travel. You will be required to meet the cost of local travel in your country of origin, e.g. taxi to the airport.
      Each TAF has different ways of managing their budgets, please speak to the relevant TAF admin for more detailed information.

      1. What is a Per Diem?

        SYNTHESYS will pay International travel plus accommodation (See What does the award cover?). In addition Users will receive a Per Diem which is a contribution to your local subsistence and travel (including travel to and from the airport). This is a set daily rate that may vary between TAF's and is subject to local institutions regulations. Please contact the relevant TAF admin for more detailed information

      2. Who should act as my host?

        Your host is the person at your chosen TAF who will be your main contact. They may be a researcher, curator, librarian or technician depending on your proposed project. However, it is essential that you contact them in advance of making your application to ensure that they are available and are the most appropriate person to be named as your host on your application.

      3. Who should provide my supporting statement?

        Your supporting statement will be used as a reference. Therefore it should be provided by a senior peer who knows your work first-hand. It must not be made by a staff member from your chosen TAF.
        It is the responsibilty of the applicant to ensure that their supporter submits the statement via the online system by the deadline. Late supporting statements will not be accepted and the application automatically rejected.
        Please note: If you are applying to a TAF with several institutions, your supporting statement can not be from staff at any of the TAF institutions.

        My research requires destructive sampling of Collections material, will this be possible?

        Such research must be assessed on a case by case basis by the relevant institution. Prior to making an application contact youe host and request their policy on destructive sampling of the material in question.

      4. My research requires DNA extraction from Collections material, will this be possible?

        Such research must be assessed on a case by case basis by the relevant institution. Prior to making an application contact your host and request their policy on DNA extraction of the material in question.

      5. What if my supporter doesn’t submit the supporting statement before the call deadline?

        Then your application will not be eligible for assessment by the User Selection Panel under that call. We suggest you contact your supporter in advance of making your application to ensure they will be able to provide the statement in good time.

        You will receive an email notifying you when the supporting statement is submitted. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the supporting statement is submitted. TAF administrators will assist with any technical problems experienced by the supporter, if they are contacted in advance of the deadline.

      6. Why can't supporting statements be sent via email?

        The supporting statement must be an integrated part of the application so that is available to the User Selection Panel. The SYNTHESYS software is modelled on the European Commission's Marie Curie Action System, and has been approved by the Commission as an acceptable method of collecting applications and associated information.

      7. What if I accidentally submit the application before I have completed all the fields?

        Before you can submit your application a full copy of your application will appear on screen. You will need to check that you have completed all the fields. If you have not completed the mandatory fields they will be marked in red. You will need to cancel your submission and complete the application before the option to submit will appear on the form.

      8. Can I apply now for a visit towards the end of the contract?

        You need to agree your visit dates with your host within 12 months of the call deadline. We prefer Users to visit within 12 months of being granted the award.

  3. Scoring and Visiting

    1. How will my application be scored?

      Please see the application form and the guidelines to completing it. These give guidance on what the User Selection Panel expects to see and a guide to the length.

    2. How does the application process work?

      Once you have submitted your application the TAF administrator will check the application for eligibility. It will then be reviewed internally by the named host and Facilities Managers and passed to the User Selection Panel. The User Selection Panel will consist of an internal staff member from each of the institutions within your chosen TAF and an equal number of external international reviewers. The Panel usually consists of 4 people. They will then review each of the TAF applications and meet at the TAF for a daylong meeting to discuss the applications. The TAF administrator will act as secretary and note the results of the meeting. These results will then be sent to the applicant via email.

    3. How will my application be assessed?

      All of the TAF User Selection Panels will follow the same protocol. Once the Panel have marked the applications they will meet at the TAF to discuss their scores and recommendations.

      # Criteria %
      1 Benefit of the training AND/OR Does the project show a realistic methodological approach and work plan? 30
      2 Does the project contribute towards the objectives of the European Research Area? Will there be benefit of mobility through the transfer of knowledge and improved collaborations? Will there be a contribution to research excellence and European competitiveness? 10
      3 Value of supporting statement 10
      4 Is there justification for requested access to collections, facilities and staff expertise? Consider if the User should apply to a different TAF. Does the User have similar facilities in their home country? 25
      5 Value of the expected gains and outputs. 10
      6 Scientific merit of User/User Group (from CV). 15
      Total: 100%
    4. How long after the deadline will I be able to visit?

      Usually, your visit can begin approximately 12-15 weeks after the deadline. You should plan your visit to start no earlier than the January after the Call has closed.

    5. CALL 4 UPDATE: Due to the limited timeframe of Call 4 (visits must be completed by 3rd August 2013) some TAFs will try to accommodate User visits as early as December 2012 (please contact the relevant TAF administrator to check possible start dates). As such we plan to announce results by 30th November 2012.
    1. Do I need to write a report when I leave?

      Yes, you will need to complete a confidential form for the European Commission and a User Evaluation Report. The latter requires that you enter your anticipated scientific output (e.g. peer-reviewed publications, conference contribution). They are both completed online.

    2. When will I find out if my project has been approved?

      The application process takes between 12-15 weeks from the deadline. Once the User Selection Panel has met and agreed the allocation of awards the results of your application will be emailed to you and your host.

    3. CALL 4 UPDATE: Due to the limited timeframe of Call 4 (visits must be completed by 3rd August 2013) some TAFs will try to accommodate User visits as early as December 2012 (please contact the relevant TAF administrator to check possible start dates). As such we plan to announce results by 30th November 2012.
  4. Miscellaneous

    1. Why is SYNTHESYS Access limited to 17 Institutions?

      The range of institutions covered by SYNTHESYS is fixed under a funding contract from the European Commission's Infrastructure Action. It is not possible to offer Access via SYNTHESYS to institutions that are not part of the contract.

    2. How can my organisation join SYNTHESYS as an Access provider?

      The SYNTHESYS Consortium will consider new Access providers if the demand significantly drops for a TAF.  If there is a drop in demand in Call 4 then we will look to bring in new partners for SYNTHESYS3 Call 1 (subject to project funding). We will repeat this process with each Call in SYNTHESYS3. To be considered as an Access provider, an institution must:

      1. Have completed a SYNTHESYS collections management self-assessment (http://www.synthesys.info/II_na_2_selfasses.htm) which will demonstrate if their collections are well managed and accessible.
      2. Show demand for Access from European researchers outside of the SYNTHESYS Consortium
      3. Calculate a User Fee (SYNTHESYS Project manager would assist with this)

      If all of these criteria are met, the SYNTHESYS Consortium would vote on whether to accept a new partner into the project and NHMMT would start legal negotiations with the EU.

    3. How do I add or update outputs from my FP6 SYNTHESYS visit?

      Please visit http://www.synthesys.info/synthesys_old/ to access the FP6 application site. Details of previous applications can also be found here
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Definitions

Infrastructure
The research facility (facilities) to which user groups are given transnational access under the project.
International European Interest Organisations
An international organisation, the majority of whose members are European Community Member States or Associated States, and whose principal objective is to promote scientific and technological co-operation in Europe.
User
A successful applicant. A researcher within a User Group, including the user group leader.
User group
A research team of one or more researchers requesting access to the infrastructure under the project. Each user group is led by a user group leader.
Host
The researcher, curator, technician or librarian at your chosen TAF who will be responsible the scientific leadership (and training if requested) in preparation for and during your visit.
TAF
One of 10 national Taxonomic Access Facilities within the SYNTHESYS project which comprise one or more research facility.
User Selection Panel
The User Selection Panel shall be composed of international experts in the field, at least half of whom shall be independent and external to the staff of the Infrastructure. Selection Panel shall base its selection on scientific merit, taking into account that priority should be given to user groups who:
  • have not previously used the infrastructure, and
  • are working in countries where no such research infrastructures exist.
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