Submission Guidelines

by Emmanuel Momjian last modified Jan 16, 2020 by Justin Linford

The following guidelines are designed to assist in the submission of proposals into the Proposal Submission Tool (PST). There are two sets of guidelines, one for General and Shared Risk Observing (GO / SRO) and one for Resident Shared Risk Observing (RSRO); note that while some of the steps to completion are the same between GO / SRO and RSRO, the latter has additional considerations that need to be taken into account before submission of the proposal.

General and Shared Risk Observing (GO / SRO) Steps to Completion

  1. Read the current Call for Proposals description for summaries of the capabilities being offered for GO and SRO.
  2. Review the NRAO User Portal and Proposal Submission Guide for details on the online tool and proposal submission policies (proposal types, page limits, etc...).
  3. Write a scientific justification for your proposal. Note that technical information should be included in the Technical Justification section form and does not need to be included with the scientific justification. Save your scientific justification as a PDF file.
  4. Use the EVN Exposure Calculator to determine the required sensitivities. Remember to use the appropriate number of antennas.  In general, it is best not assume you will get all 10 VLBA antennas, unless this is required by your proposal.
  5. Determine the total time to be requested, including all overheads.
  6. Log into the NRAO Interactive Services page and click on the Proposals tab in the top left to create a new proposal for the VLBA. Once you are in the tool, extensive help is available in the tool by clicking on the Help button in the top right of the tool interface. In the Proposal Submission Tool (PST):
    • Fill in the relevant fields for each section of your proposal;
      • If you are proposing for continuum observations, select Observing Type = Continuum in the General section of your proposal. Then add a Continuum Resource, selecting the appropriate band you want to observe in. Default optimum continuum setups for each band are defined in the PST.
      • If you are proposing for spectral line observations, select Observing Type = Spectroscopy in the General section of your proposal.
    • Upload your scientific justification as a PDF file;
    • Click on the Technical Justification page in the proposal and fill in the appropriate boxes (example of technical justification). In order to determine sensitivities, you will need to use the EVN Exposure Calculator Tool to understand what sensitivity you will get for a given observing band, bandwidth, antenna set, and integration time. If you have trouble running the EVN Exposure Calculator please contact the NRAO Helpdesk.  If you have a reason for not used the EVN Exposure Calculator, state it in the box asking for the screenshot.
    • Note that the PST allows observers to specify multiple resource types (e.g., you can have one proposal that specifies general and/or RSRO correlator resources). If any resource is RSRO then the proposal will become a RSRO proposal.
  7. When your proposal is complete, validate it to make sure there are no obvious omissions or mistakes. Also double check that the numbers used in the Scientific and Technical Justifications match those provided in any attachments (e.g., EVN Calculator screen shot).
  8. When you are satisfied, submit your proposal in the PST. Note that proposals can be withdrawn and resubmitted before the deadline.

 

Resident Shared Risk Observing (RSRO) Steps to Completion

  1. Read the current Call for Proposals for a summary of the capabilities being offered for GO and SRO. If you want more than what is offered for GO or SRO then you are requesting a RSRO capability (one that is not well-tested and may need additional development). If you propose for a RSRO capability, you—or an experienced person on your team—must be able to participate in the RSRO program by coming to Socorro to help with the development and testing process.
  2. Review the NRAO User Portal and Proposal Submission Guide for details on the online tool and proposal submission policies (proposal types, page limits, etc...).
  3. Write a scientific justification for your proposal. Note that technical information should be included in the Technical Justification section and does not need to be included with the scientific justification. Save your scientific justification as a PDF file.
  4. Log into the NRAO Interactive Services page and click on the Proposals tab in the top left to create a new proposal for the VLBA. Once you are in the tool, extensive help is available in the tool by clicking on the Help button in the top right of the tool interface. In the Proposal Submission Tool (PST):
    • Fill in the relevant fields for each section of your proposal;
    • Even as a RSRO proposal, you will need to create a Resource in the PST and select the VLBA RSRO Observing Mode. This will give you a text field in which you can type a description of your setup;
    • Upload your scientific justification as a PDF file;
    • Technical justifications are now included as a separate section in the proposal. Click on the Technical Justification page in the proposal and fill in the appropriate boxes (example of technical justification). Describe what you want to do with the correlator and why this is in the RSRO Category in this section. Contact NRAO staff if you have questions about exactly what is feasible. The last box at the bottom of the Technical Justification page should be used to describe your RSRO effort. Identify who in your team can come to Socorro to help commission this capability and how their background and expertise can be applied to this development. Working with NRAO staff, estimate the level of effort that is likely to be needed for this development and specify how long a member of your team can come to NRAO.
    • Note that the PST allows observers to specify multiple resource types (e.g., you can have one proposal that specifies general, shared-risk and RSRO correlator resources). If any resource is RSRO then the proposal will become a RSRO proposal.
  5. When your proposal is complete, validate it to make sure there are no obvious omissions or mistakes.
  6. When you are satisfied, submit your proposal in the PST. Note that proposals can be withdrawn and resubmitted before the deadline.

 

RSRO Considerations

A RSRO proposal should contain:

  1. A scientific justification, to be peer reviewed as part of NRAO's current time allocation process, submitted through the Proposal Submission Tool. Note that RSRO correlator resources should be specified as plain text on the Resources page in the PST by selecting VLBA RSRO as the observing mode.
  2. The technical justification should identify the personnel who will be involved in the residency and describe how their expertise will be used to address the critical priorities of VLBA development relating to their proposal. The proposed dates of the residency must be included, so that the residency can be matched to VLBA development planning. This section will be reviewed by NRAO staff. Limited support for accommodation in the NRAO Guest House for participants in the RSRO program may be available.

The acceptance of a RSRO proposal will depend on the outcome of the time allocation process. Proposals will also be evaluated by NRAO staff in terms of the priorities and benefits to the VLBA development and commissioning activities.

The primary requirement of the RSRO program is that at least one expert from each participating group will reside in Socorro and contribute to commissioning, while incurring as little overhead from VLBA staff as possible. Limited support for accommodation in the NRAO Guest House for participants in the RSRO program may be available.

In general, one week of resident commissioning effort is expected for every 20 hours of VLBA time awarded to a RSRO project, subject to negotiation. While there is no minimum requirement for the amount of residency at NRAO, the ideal residency should be for about 2 months. However, the amount of time spent at NRAO to help develop the program should be realistically matched to the expected effort, including time to become familiar with relevant technical aspects. The time proposed at NRAO should be discussed with NRAO staff to determine what is reasonable. The length of time a RSRO expert should be needed at NRAO may be on the order of a few months.

The period(s) of residency may occur in advance of the observing time awarded in order to decouple essential scientific requirements (such as array configuration) from other factors which may affect when personnel are available (such as teaching schedules). However, observers should be present for one week prior to their observations in order to become familiar with the latest developments and to set up their observations. In the special case of Target of Opportunity proposals, a VLBA staff collaborator may be required for setting up observations on short timescales.

It is possible for a member of the NRAO scientific staff to satisfy the residency requirement on a RSRO proposal. NRAO staff considering providing the residency requirement for an RSRO proposal should consult with their supervisor for further information. Graduate students will, in general, not satisfy the residency requirement, although there may be exceptional cases. Graduate students will be allowed to accompany their advisors as long as the advisor takes primary responsibility for managing the student's efforts. Resident personnel will work under NRAO management in order to optimize the overall commissioning effort. A set of deliverables will be agreed upon in advance of the start of the residency.

The types of proposals considered under the RSRO program may include both large (>200 hours) and small (~10–200 hours) projects. Qualified large projects proposed by consortia will be considered as long as the residency requirements are met. A single individual may satisfy the residency requirement for several small projects.

RSRO participation without a science proposal

In some cases an individual may want to participate in development activities without writing a science proposal. A participant may arrange to visit Socorro to contribute to development activities by submitting a proposal of who will come and the technical development to be undertaken directly to the Assistant Director for New Mexico Operations (nraonmad@nrao.edu). If the Assistant Director approves of the request, then the individual may come to Socorro to contribute to development activities. The participant may then obtain observing time either by submitting a proposal at a regular proposal deadline, or by submitting an Exploratory Proposal through Director's Discretionary Time. Such visits should conform to the residency requirements above. Proposals to visit Socorro under this program may be submitted at any time.