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FAQs

This page provides Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for SYNTHESYS Transnational Access.

For SYNTHESYS Virtual Access FAQs please check here

Please read through these FAQs before contacting synthesys@nhm.ac.uk with any further queries you may have. If your question is specific to a particular Taxonomic Access Facility (TAF), you can find TAF contact details at the bottom of each TAF section on this page.

Eligibility

Application

Scoring and Visiting

COVID-19

Miscellaneous

Eligibility

  1. Who is eligible to apply for access to SYNTHESYS collections?

    SYNTHESYS+ TAFs are offering access to selected 'user-groups': teams of one or more researchers (users), led by a 'user group leader'.

    To be eligible, users must satisfy the following condition:

    The user group leader and the majority of the users must work in a country other than the country(ies) where the TAF is located.

    Only user groups that are allowed to disseminate the results they have generated during their visit are eligible to apply, unless the users are working for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). 

    Access for user groups with a majority of users not working in an EU or associated country is limited to 20% of the total access days provided under the grant. 

    Click here to see a list of H2020 EU and associated countries. 

  1. Are there any age limits?

    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. 

  2. 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, taking into consideration the applicant's career stage, versus experience and publication record. 

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Can I apply for a visit to receive 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. Therefore a limit of 15% awards are made to applicants working within the TAF institutions.

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

    No.

  • Can I reapply if I am unsuccessful?

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

  • Can I apply for a repeat visit to a TAF?

Yes, although it is strongly 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.

  • Are applicants based in the UK or UK nationals eligible for TA following BREXIT?

Yes, although UK nationals should check (as should all applicants) the visa requirements to their chosen TAF before applying. 

Application

 

    Why do I need an ORCID ID?

In order to register to apply for a Transnational Access award, you will need an ORCID ID.  This will provide the information needed to assess your eligibility and scientific merit and should therefore 1) be made public so that your profile can be viewed, 2) include your home institution, and 3) include CV and publications details. For further guidance on building your ORCID ID please click here.

    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 60 days will be awarded.

 

  1. What does the award cover?

    The award covers all of a TAF's 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 or makes a contribution to 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 administrator to better understand this process.

  2. What is a Per Diem?

    SYNTHESYS will pay or make contributions to the cost of international travel plus accommodation (See “What does the award cover?” above).  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 TAFs and is subject to a local institution's own regulations.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    This year (SYNTHESYS+ Call 3), Supporting Statements can be uploaded to ELViS by applicants themselves. Late Supporting Statements will be accepted (within reason). If you anticipate that your Supporting Statement will be late, you must contact synthesys@nhm.ac.uk

    Please note: If you are applying to a TAF with several institutions, your supporting statement cannot be from staff at any of the TAF institutions.

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

    Such research will 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 destructive sampling of the material in question.

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

    Such research will 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.

  7. 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.

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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. However delays to visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be agreed on a case-by-case basis (see COVID-19 section below).

Scoring and Visiting

 

How will my application be scored?

Your application will be scored by a User Selection Panel of research experts, who will score each application by the assessment criteria below.

 

 

How does the application process work?

Once you have submitted your application the TAF administrator will check the application for eligibility. If it passes, your application will then be reviewed internally by the User Selection Panel. The User Selection Panel will consist of one or more internal staff member(s) from each of the institutions within your chosen TAF and an equal number of external international reviewers. The panel will review each of the TAF applications. Results will then be sent to each applicant via email.

 

 

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 to discuss their scores and recommendations. 

Criteria

Out of

%

Methodology

10

30

Research Excellence

10

10

Supporting Statement

10

10

Justification

10

25

Expected Gains

10

10

Scientific Merit

10

10

Societal challenge

5

5

 

 

What is a 'Societal challenge'?

Societal Challenges are policy priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy. A full list can be found here. 

How long after the deadline will I be able to visit?

Usually, your visit can begin approximately 12-15 weeks after the deadline. Visits should be completed no more than one calendar year after the current call deadline. However delays to visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

 

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) and keep it updated.

 

 

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.

 

COVID-19

  • Why are SYNTHESYS Transnational Access calls being held during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Many TAFs are experiencing intermittent closures, often at short notice, and international travel has been severely disrupted due to COVID-19. However even if restrictions are in place at the time of an open call, User Selection Panels are planned to take place as usual so that successful projects can go ahead once restrictions are lifted.

  • My application was funded under a previous call but I have not been able to visit due to COVID-19. Can I still visit?

On the assumption that international travel and visitor access to the TAFs resumes before the end of the current project (January 2023), we will endeavour to honour all awarded applications.

  • I am on a previous call's reserve list - what should I do if I still want to visit?

If you were offered a reserve place in Call 2, we had originally hoped to be in touch in February 2021. However your TAF administrator will now contact you by November 2021 to confirm if you can be hosted. We appreciate that this is a very long time to wait to find out if your reserve visit can be funded, and we will be in touch as soon as we can if reserve funding is made available before then. If you do not hear from us by 1st November 2021 then unfortunately your application could not be funded and we encourage you to re-apply in the final Call 4 in early 2022.

You may still wish to re-apply with your Call 2 application in Call 3, which is due to launch in March 2021. If your application is awarded in Call 3, your Call 2 application will be removed from the Call 2 reserve list. If your Call 3 application is rejected from Call 3, your Call 2 application will still remain on the Reserve list of Call 2.

You may also wish to apply with an entirely new project in Call 3, whilst your Call 2 application remains on the Call 2 reserve list. 

  • My host cannot tell me what I need to know to fully prepare my application. What should I do?

Many TAFs are closed to staff as well as to visitors, meaning your named Host(s) may not be able to access collections and/or facilities to help answer questions about particular specimens/collections. We ask you to please be patient and understanding with your Host(s) in these cases. Please be reassured that your application will not be marked down as a result.

  • Will SYNTHESYS cover additional costs due to COVID-19?

Unless agreed otherwise with your TAF administrator, SYNTHESYS will not cover costs associated with quarantining (for example additional hotel and subsistence costs) or PCR tests.

Therefore all TAFs are aiming to only host visits when there is a high level of reassurance that COVID-19 will not impact travel plans. For example if existing rules require a visitor to quarantine before or after travel, a visit will be postponed until the situation stabilises and that is no longer a requirement. Visits will only take place once the TAFs have opened up safe access to external visitors and therefore you should not arrange any travel until your Host and TAF administrator have confirmed visit dates with you.

  • What if my visit is disrupted by COVID-19 part-way through?

COVID-19 domestic or international policies might change when you are halfway through a visit. In these situations TAF administrators will support you and travel/accommodation plans will be resolved on a case-by-case basis. You will not be retrospectively charged for costs that have been incurred related to your SYNTHESYS visit such as hotel or flight costs. If you are arranging and paying for your own travel and then claiming back, we strongly encourage you to arrange travel insurance and book fully refundable options. 

 

Miscellaneous

  1. Why is SYNTHESYS Access limited to 21 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 a SYNTHESYS Call then we will look to bring in new partners for later Calls (subject to project funding). We will repeat this process with each Call in SYNTHESYS. To be considered as an Access provider, an institution must:

    • Have completed a SYNTHESYS collections management self-assessment, which will demonstrate if their collections are well managed and accessible.
    • Show demand for Access from European researchers outside of the SYNTHESYS Consortium
    • Calculate a User Fee (the 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 NHM management team would start legal negotiations with the EU.

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

    Please visit http://application.synthesys.info/synthesys1/application.jsp to access the FP6 (2004-2009) application site.
    Please visit http://application.synthesys.info/synthesys2/application.jsp to access the FP7 (2009-2013) application site.
    Please visit http://application.synthesys.info/synthesys3/application.jsp to access the FP7 (2013-2017) application site.

    Please visit http://application.synthesys.info/synthesys4/application.jsp to access the H2020 (2019-2023) application site (Calls 1-2 only).

    Details of previous applications can also be found here.

Partners