STSM Visits

STSM Overview

Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) support individual mobility, consolidation of existing networks, and fostering new collaborations. They allow scientists to visit institutions or laboratories in other Participating COST Countries, as well as institutions in approved Near-Neighbour Countries (NNCs), European RTD Organisations (e.g. ESO) or approved International Partner Countries (IPCs).

STSMs need to contribute to the scientific objectives of the COST Action, simultaneously allowing scientists to learn new techniques or gain access to specific instruments or methods not available at their home institutions. All Action participants, particularly Early-Career Investigators (ECIs, less than 8 years from the PhD degree) may apply for STSM funding.

MW-Gaia has allocated a total budget of 15,000 EUR to support STSM's in the Action's first grant period (May 2019 to Apr 2020). The applications can be submitted continuously, although they will only be assessed at fixed collection points. The deadlines will be announced by e-mail and on the Action website. Within each grant period, the STSMs need to be completed by the end of February.

The STSM cannot take place before its formal approval.

Please contact the STSM coordinator Karri Muinonen, if you have questions (see contact us).

STSM Rules and Procedures

STSMs need to take place according to the following rules:

  • the minimum duration is 5 days, including travel
  • the entire mission needs to be carried out within a single MW-Gaia grant period (1 May to 30 Apr, although the visit should be completed by the end of February) and within the lifetime of the MW-Gaia Action.
The following funding conditions apply:
  • up to a max of 3500 EUR in total can be afforded to each successful STSM applicant;
  • up to a max of 160 EUR per day can be afforded for accommodation & meal expenses;
  • up to a max of 300 EUR can be afforded for travel costs
The STSM Coordinator can consider and can approve differentiated country rates to cover accommodation and meal expenses based on the perceived cost of living in the host country.

STSM awards may be combined with other funding sources, but these must be acknowledged in the application

For more details regarding the STSM regulations, please see the COST Vademecum, Section 8 (pp. 34-35):
http://www.cost.eu/download/COSTVademecum

Eligibility

Please check your eligibility in Section 8.1 of the COST Vademecum at http://www.cost.eu/download/COSTVademecum

Application Procedure

After verifying your eligibility, apply by following this two stage application procedure:

  • Fill in the initial online application form (https://e-services.cost.eu/stsm)
    • If you do not already have an e-COST account you will need to create one before you can complete the online application. Creating an account is a one-off process.
    • You will receive an acknowledgement of submission receipt from COST. Attach the receipt provided by COST to your application;
  • Submit the application as an attachment to an e-mail message, together with the necessary supporting documents, to the STSM coordinator. The application must not exceed 3 pages including references, using the recommended Arial font, size 11pt. It should contain (describe explicitly how your application fulfills the evaluation criteria):
    • Motivation.
    • Introduction of your own preliminary work leading up to the STSM, including related publications (if applicable).
    • Scientific goal, relating it to your own career (e.g., postdoctoral research, PhD thesis).
    • Full work plan, justifying the duration of your stay. Describe your studies, research, and training, when applicable, and state the WGs which the application's topic belongs to, as well as the expected outcomes (e.g., publications, methods, data).
    • Contact details of your home institution and of the receiving institution, including the name, postal address, and e-mail address of your STSM host.
    • Justification for the selection of the host institution.
    • Cost estimate and justification, including expenses for travel, accommodation, and subsistence. Declaration of other sources of funding or confirmation that no other sources are available.
  • Supporting documents required:
    • Written agreement from the STSM host institution (generally this letter is written by the person hosting the STSM).
    • Written support statement from the superior (e.g., group leader) of the applicant if the applicant is an ECI.
    • Curriculum Vitae.
The STSM coordinator will confirm the receipt of the proposal via e-mail.

The application process is open during the Action (see the specific rules above). The applications will be evaluated quarterly. The STSM cannot take place before its formal approval and it has to take place within a single grant period. The deadlines will be announced by e-mail and on the Action website and are expected to be in early July, October, January, and May. Within each grant period, the STSMs need to be completed by the end of February.

Evaluation and Grant Procedure

After the STSM coordinator receives the application, the procedure is as follows:

  1. The STSM coordinator organises the assessment of the application. The STSM panel assesses the proposal (see the STSM Evaluation Criteria below), potentially seeking expert impartial advice to aid the decision.
    • Concise feedback will be provided to unsuccessful applicants.
    • The following summary information about STSM applications will be made available to all or some of the Action MC, participants, and the public:
      • List of approved applications will be available on the Action website.
      • One master database maintained by the STSM coordinator including evaluation scores and title, accessible to the MC members on a password-protected page.
    • Application statistics will be discussed at the MC meetings and provided to the Action participants.
    • Applicants can opt to request for an embargo on the information included their application. The request must come with a justification.
  2. If the application is approved by the STSM panel, the STSM coordinator sends the application and its approval to the Grant Holder & Action Chair for final verification.
  3. The Grant Holder sends the applicant a grant letter to sign and return: The STSM cannot start before the letter has been signed and returned to the Grant Holder.
  4. After the STSM visit has taken place, the applicant needs to submit a scientific report to the host and the STSM coordinator within 30 days of the end of the trip. The report needs to describe the purpose of the mission, description of work carried out, description of main results, future collaborations with the host (if applicable), publications estimated to result from the mission (if applicable), and the confirmation of the mission success by the host.
  5. STSM coordinator approves the final report and sends the approval to the Grant Holder.
  6. The Grant Holder executes the payment to the applicant.

Evaluation Criteria

  1. Scientific quality (e.g., proposed outcome), with a normalized weight of 0.4.
  2. Feasibility of the proposed project (e.g., suitable host, equipment, technique), with a weight of 0.4.
  3. Matching the objectives and deliverables of the Action (e.g., inclusiveness), with a weight of 0.2.
The following scores will be given for each of the 3 criteria above:
1 – Not competitive, 2 – Good, 3 – Excellent, 4 - Outstanding

The final score will be the weighted sum of the 3 individual scores. A funding threshold will be set by the STSM panel. The STSM panel makes its decision within two weeks after the end of the call.

The evaluators may consider the following aspects to establish the scores:
  • Does the mission align with the objectives of the action?
  • Does the applicant have the competence to make the mission successful in the timeframe planned?
  • Is the host institute suitable for the mission?
  • Is the mission inclusive (ITCs/ECIs) and is gender balance promoted? Reflect the assessment in the score of criterion 3.
  • Does the applicant have a proper standing in order to contribute to the feasibility (criterion 2) and objectives of the Action (criterion 3)?

Reporting Rules and Reimbursement

After the mission is completed, the grantee is required to submit a short scientific report to the host institution and to the STSM coordinator for approval within 30 days after the end date of the mission. For the specific content of the report, please see the COST Vademecum. The failure to submit the report within 30 days will effectively cancel the grant.

Payment of the Grant is subject to a STSM scientific report being approved on behalf of the Action’s MC by the STSM coordinator and by a senior researcher affiliated to the host Institution.

Please note that the reimbursement for the grantees will be carried out after the mission is over and after the final report is submitted by the grantee.

The grantee is requested to provide a brief summary of the report (maximum 300 words) together with the grantee’s photograph to be published on the Action website.

Specific provisions have been introduced to enable researchers from the ITCs participating in the respective COST Action to receive 50% of their STSM Grant when they complete the first day of their STSM (a confirmation by the host institution is needed). The remaining 50% of the Grant is payable once the administrative requirements have been satisfied (see above). The person in charge of the mission at the host institution will need to send a written confirmation to the STSM coordinator to enable the payment of the first 50% of the grant.

Financial Rules

See Vademecum, section 8. Requested resources need to be justified in your application (e.g., hotel expenses), see point 7 of the application.

For all the other rules, regulations, and procedures, applicants should refer to the COST Vademecum:
http://www.cost.eu/download/COSTVademecum


Page last pdated: 20190731

Next Deadline

The 2nd STSM open call opened on Thursday 1 August 2019

Key Dates

  • Deadline for submissions: Monday 30 September 2019
  • Feedback to Applicants: Tuesday 15 October 2019
  • Exchange visits take place in the period 1 Nov 2019 to 29 Feb 2020

STSM Panel

  • STSM Chair: Karri Muinonen (University of Helsinki)
  • Sonia Anton (University of Aveiro)
  • Elena Pancino (INAF - Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri)
  • Andreas Just (ZAH, Universitaet Heidelberg)
  • Ivanka Stateva (Institute of Astronomy, Sofia)


COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020

© 2019 MW-Gaia COST Action CA18104 Contact: mw-gaia@ast.cam.ac.uk