Applying for beamtime



Please use the ESRF User Portal (SMIS) to submit proposals and experiment reports, to check their status, and to list and consult previous proposals and experiments. For industrial clients wishing to purchase beam time, please go to Industry Solutions.


Please try to submit your proposal as early as possible in order to avoid overloading the applications system.

Proposals & Publications in the ESRF Library Database: DETAILS on procedure

Important Dates

Next Proposal deadlines

10th September 2016 (inclusive)

for Standard and BAG Proposals

15th January 2017

for Long Term Project (LTP) Proposals

Submit Proposal


Review Committee Meetings


28th- 29th April

(proposals submitted for the 1st March 2016 deadline)

27th- 28th October

(proposals submitted for the 10th  Sept. 2016 deadline)


Advice on writing a good proposal based on feedback from proposal Review Committee Members and beamline staff. Please remember that the working language of the ESRF is English and it is mandatory that at least one fluent English-speaking scientist participates in the experiment onsite (registered on the A Form)

If you intend to submit a STANDARD Application for Beam Time, please note that you are required:

* to use the TEMPLATE of the "Experimental Method Form" for a Standard Research Proposal (last update: July 2009); this document should consist of a maximum of two A4 pages (including references) with a minimal font size of 12pt (Times New Roman). Proposals with an experiment methods form which exceeds 2 A4 pages (including references) will automatically be rejected by the software.

* to make sure that the EXPERIMENTAL REPORTS registered as "relevant reports" in your new Application for Beam Time have been EFFECTIVELY submitted and registered in our data base. Please submit, as far as possible, experimental reports (if necessary preliminary reports) on your most recent experiments, even those carried out during the last 6 months preceding the proposal submission deadline, and register them in your new proposal(s) as "relevant reports".

Be aware that: Applications for Beam Time submitted with the old template of the Experimental Method Form and/or supported by previous experiment(s) for which the report(s) - relevant report(s) - has/have not been submitted via the User Portal will not be awarded beam time by the Review Committees.

Further to a decision of the ESRF Council, information concerning the scientific use of the ESRF will be provided to the Heads of Delegation of the Contracting Parties and Observers from Scientific Associate countries to the Council. For detailed information on data provided (and additional information to be provided for all UK users) please click HERE

In this page:

Beamlines and facilities
Applications for beam time (types of proposals, deadlines)
Assessment & beam time allocation (information on review committees)
Scheduling of experiments


Beamlines and Facilities

The ESRF UPGRADE PROGRAMME has already started. Please check the status of the beamlines and their availability for the next proposal deadline.

The public beamlines in operation at ESRF provide some 500 shifts of beam time each year for user experiments, after deducting machine-dedicated runs and maintenance days.  In addition, several externally funded, Collaborating Research Group (CRG) beamlines, make available 1/3 of their beam time to ESRF users.  During the year, two long shut-downs are scheduled: 4 weeks in winter and 3 weeks in summer. Beamlines at ESRF operate 24 hours a day in three shifts, each of 8 hours.

Important - Proposal Review Process based on beamline(s) requested

From the Proposal Round of October 2012 it is the beamline(s) requested by the main proposer, in the application for beam time, which determine(s) the committee(s) which will review and assess the proposal (see new proposal review process). It is therefore extremely important that the proposer takes great care when selecting the beamline(s) for his/her proposal in order to have his/her proposal assessed by the appropriate Review Committee.

The proposer is requested to contact the scientists in charge of beamlines on which the project may be feasible, prior to submitting the application. If a beamline is requested for the first time, consultations prior to submission are essential.

Useful links

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Applications for Beam Time

Applications for beamtime must be submitted electronically through the User Portal. Each application is assigned to a specific scientific area and is submitted to a Review Committee.  Members of these committees are specialists in relevant areas of science and are appointed by the ESRF management.

  • Requests for beam time are based on shifts of 8 hours.
  • Allocations of beam time will usually be made in multiples of 3 shifts

Types of Proposals

Before submitting a proposal for ESRF beam time, we strongly recommend that you first consult the Proposal Guidelines specific to the category of your new proposal very carefully, as these contain detailed instructions regarding the electronic completion and submission of your proposal.


Deadlines for submission and Review Committees

STANDARD and BAG Proposals

Two proposal review rounds are held each year, with deadlines for submission of applications for beam time on:

  • 1st March (inclusive) for the scheduling period August to February
  • 10th September (inclusive) for the scheduling period March to July
  • Review Committees: The proposals submitted for 1st March and 1st September proposal rounds are reviewed during the Review Committees which are held in April and October, respectively.


  • LTPs can be submitted once a year with a fixed deadline: 15th January (inclusive)
  • Review Committees: the current and new Long Term Project proposals are reviewed during the Review Committees which are held in April.

MX non-BAG Proposals

  • This method of applying for beamtime can be made AT ANY TIME
  • Review Committees: the MX non-BAG Proposals are reviewed by the Review Committee within 2-3 weeks of their reception at the ESRF.

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Assessment & Beam Time allocation

New Proposal Review Process (since October 2012) Details

The Review Committees meet twice a year, in April and in October, to assess proposals received at the submission deadlines of 1st March and 1st September, respectively.

The Review Committees, assisted by external referees where appropriate, consider the proposals: they first assign each proposal a grade between 0 and 5.5 on the basis of scientific merit, 5.5 being the top score. At their meetings, the committees discuss the projects, and arrive at a final grade for each proposal; they also rank the proposals in order of priority for each beamline.

Beam time is allocated on the basis of scientific merit, following the recommendations of the Review Committees, and provided the experiment proposed meets technical feasibility and safety requirements.

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Scheduling of experiments

Following each meeting of the Review Committees, proposers are informed of the decisions taken.  If beam time has not been allocated, brief, general reasons only are given, as the number of proposals received does not allow a detailed report on each proposal.

When beam-time is allocated, invitations for experiments, together with detailed instructions, are then communicated to the Proposers concerned by the ESRF User Office several weeks ahead of the scheduled experiment.

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