This document provides a practical step-by-step guide to the COST Open Call rules and procedures for Submission, Evaluation, Selection and Approval of COST Action proposals, as decided by the COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO)1. It is available at http://www.cost.eu/proposal_sesa_guidelines.
Proposers are invited to read the set of COST Implementation Rules establishing the conditions for participation in COST activities and in particular in COST Actions, namely:
Rules for Participation in and Implementation of COST Activities (COST132/14 REV)
COST Action Proposal Submission, Evaluation, Selection and Approval (COST 133/14 REV)
COST Action Management, Monitoring and Final Assessment (COST 134/14 REV 2)
Rules for Participation of Non-COST Countries and Specific Organisations (COST 135/14 REV)
These documents are legally binding and take precedence over any guidelines. In case of any contradiction between the COST Implementation Rules and the present guidelines, COST Implementation Rules shall prevail.
2. OVERVIEW OF COST FRAMEWORK, COST ACTION AND SESA PROCESS
2.1. THE COST FRAMEWORK: MISSION AND POLICY
COST (CO-operation in Science and Technology) is a pan-European intergovernmental framework2 dedicated to European-based S&T networking activities aiming at allowing their participants to jointly develop their ideas and new initiatives across all scientific disciplines through trans-European coordination of nationally or otherwise funded research activities. COST has been contributing since its creation in 1971 to closing the gap between science, policy makers and society throughout Europe and beyond.
COST Mission is notably to enable breakthrough scientific developments leading to new concepts, services and products and thereby contributing to strengthening European research and innovation capacities.
In order to achieve its mission, COST provides support for activities such as:
the development of European-based scientific and technological networks in any scientific or interdisciplinary domain;
the exploitation of the research outcomes by integrating all stakeholders, thereby intensifying the links between the scientific communities, the enterprises, the policy makers and the society;
the dissemination of results of such research activities in order to improve their scientific, social and economic impact;
the provision for collaboration opportunities to all researchers in order to employ all talented and creative human resources available in Europe overcoming the bottlenecks linked to geographic location, age or gender;
the facilitation of the international collaboration of the European research networks, thereby increasing their efficiency, effectiveness and impact at global level;
The COST Association is the legal entity in charge of the management and implementation of COST strategy, policies and activities towards the achievement of the COST Mission. The overview of the COST structure and its intergovernmental dimension can be found at http://www.cost.eu/about_cost/organisation.
COST draws the funds for its activities from the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020. The COST Association has signed a Framework Partnership Agreement with the European Commission, defining the Strategic Action Plan, setting the objectives and legal frame for the period 2014-20203. Specific Grant Agreements describing the implementation of the Action Plan are signed or amended yearly.
COST has put in place a policy and a set of rules aiming at fulfilling its mission and specific objectives:
COST Excellence and Inclusiveness,
Participation of non-COST Countries and Specific Organisations.
The policy on COST Excellence and Inclusiveness is built upon two pillars:
Strengthening the excellence through the creation of cross-border networking of researchers;
Promoting geographical, age and gender balance throughout its activities and operations.
This policy aims to provide collaboration opportunities to all researchers, engineers, scholars and other stakeholders in COST Full or Cooperating Members4 and to overcome the bottlenecks that prevent the use of all talented and creative human resources available for European science. It has the following objectives:
Encouraging and enabling researchers from less research-intensive countries across Europe to set up or join COST Actions. These countries are denominated Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITC) and fulfil the Horizon 2020 widening eligibility condition, being either an EU Member State or Associated Country to the EU Framework programme5;
Counterbalancing research communities’ unequal access to knowledge, infrastructures, funding and resources;
Providing a strong means to increase the visibility and integration of researchers to the leading knowledge hubs of Europe, as well as to acquire their necessary leadership skills, regardless of their location, age or gender;
Smoothly contributing to trigger structural changes in the national research systems of COST Members;
COST aims at reinforcing and supporting the participation of Non-COST Countries in COST activities, in particular COST Actions underpinning its open and global scope on the basis of ascertained mutual benefit. The participation of Near Neighbour Countries is particularly encouraged, according to the provisions related to eligibility for both participation and reimbursement set in the “Rules for Participation of Non-COST countries and Specific Organisations”6 and in the COST Vademecum.
Further, COST aims at enabling fruitful collaborations between researchers, engineers, scholars and other stakeholders and business by providing a natural platform for them to meet and build mutual trust. It also aims at increasing impact of research in the industrial sector, by promoting the use and
development of technologies, as well as the exploitation7 of COST Action results and outcomes through dedicated dissemination and exploitation activities targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies in Europe.
2.2. COST ACTIONS
COST funds networking activities to the benefit of nationally or otherwise funded research activities.
COST Actions are Science and Technology (S&T) networks open to researchers, engineers and scholars from universities, research centres, companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as other stakeholders and relevant legal entities. All the relevant information to manage a COST Action is presented in the COST Vademecum (http://www.cost.eu/Vademecum). COST Actions are set up to achieve specific objectives within their four-year duration based upon the sharing, creation, dissemination and application of knowledge. These objectives can be reached through COST networking tools:
Meetings (i.e. Management Committee meetings, Working Group meetings),
Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs),
COST Actions are:
Pan-European: the COST inter-governmental framework spans over 36 Full Members and one Cooperating Member;
Bottom-up: in terms of S&T fields and topics, COST welcomes any novel, original and innovative idea;
Open: in terms of participation, COST Actions can grow in size within their first three years;
Unique: as a platform to coordinate national research funding and resources within a lightweight framework;
Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinary: bridging different research communities, disciplines, fields and methodologies;
COST Actions are “bottom-up” in two ways: their topics are chosen by proposers and the scientific management decisions are entrusted to the Action Management Committees. They are open throughout their lifetime to new members and are adaptable in terms of internal organisation and strategy. They shall promote actively the participation of the next generation of researchers, engineers, scholars and other relevant stakeholders. Thus, COST Actions are especially well-suited to pursue new ideas through collaborative efforts and/or to build communities around emerging Science & Technology (S&T) topics and societal questions.
2.2.1. COST ACTION STRUCTURE
The intergovernmental dimension of COST is reflected in the structure of a COST Action.
The Action Management Committee (MC) is the decision-making body. It is composed of up to two representatives of each COST Member having accepted the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of the Action (the Participating COST Members). The MoU is the document accepted by a minimum of seven different COST Members, describing the Action objectives. Action MC members are nominated by the COST National Coordinators (CNCs). The Action MC is responsible for the coordination, implementation and management of the Action activities and for supervising the appropriate allocation and use of the grant with a view to achieving the Action scientific and technological objectives.
Working Groups (WGs) are in charge of developing the scientific activities needed to achieve the Action objectives, in line with the Action strategy defined by the Action MC. The composition, the leadership and the activity of the WG are defined by the Action MC.
COST Actions are funded via yearly Action Grant Agreements (AGAs) based on annual Work and Budget Plans (W&BPs), detailing the activities designed to achieve the objectives defined in the MoU. The Action’s activities are decided by the Action MC, taking advantage of the full range of the COST networking tools. The rules applying to their funding are defined in the COST Vademecum.
The research and development activities needed for the achievement of the Action objectives rely on nationally or otherwise funded research projects and resources (e.g. employees’ time, infrastructures and equipment) and are not funded by COST. COST Actions aim at leveraging national or other sources of funding towards efficient trans-European research cooperation.
COST Actions are open to all researchers, engineers and scholars or other stakeholders, who are committed to work and achieve the Action objectives and are affiliated to a legal entity. Action Participants are defined as being any person being an Action MC member, an Action MC substitute, an Action MC Observer, a Working Group member or an ad-hoc participant:
Action MC members: up to two representatives for each COST Full or Cooperating Member may be nominated to the COST Action MC by the COST National Coordinator (CNC), once the MoU of the Action has been accepted by the COST Member. The role of Action MC members is to pro-actively participate in the implementation and decision-making activities in the Action. Action MC members have voting rights within the Action MC: decisions are made by simple majority, with one vote per COST Full or Cooperating Member. The nomination of Action MC members is a national prerogative and follows national procedures.8
Action MC substitutes: up to three representatives for each COST Full Member and/or Cooperating Member may be nominated to the COST Action MC by the CNC, once the MoU of the Action has been accepted by the COST Member. The role of Action MC substitutes is to replace, where necessary, an Action MC member with approval of the Action Chair.
MC Observers: Action Participants affiliated to COST Partner Members having accepted the MoU, to Approved Institutions based in NNCs and IPCs, to the European Commission, EU bodies, offices or agencies, International Organisations, or European RTD Organisations9 may be present at the Action MC as MC Observers. Their role is to observe the Action decision- making processes on behalf of their institution of affiliation. They have no voting rights, but they may participate in discussions related to Action MC decisions.
WG members: Action Participants appointed by the Action MC in this regard. Their role is to contribute to the achievement of the Action objectives through their participation in WG.
5. Ad hoc Participants: Individuals selected, as necessary, by the Action MC to contribute to the COST Action activities towards the achievement of the COST Action Objectives. Ad hoc participants can be STSM grantees, trainees and trainers in Training Schools, and invited speakers at COST Action Workshops and Conferences.
All Action Participants must be affiliated to a university, research centre, company or other relevant legal entity located in a Participating COST Member or in any of the NNCs or IPCs. They may also be affiliated to the EU Commission, EU bodies, offices or agencies, EU RTD Organisations and International Organisations. The eligibility of reimbursement and the rules for participation vary for each category of affiliation according to COST rules (see COST Vademecum).
Below is the overview of all the types of potential Action Participants grouped by affiliation category10: Table 1: Overview of Affiliation Categories
Near Neighbour Country approved institution
International Partner Country approved institution
Universities, research centres, companies or any relevant legal entity, such as: Government organisations, Regional bodies, private non- profit organisations, NGOs, etc.
European Commission and EU bodies, offices or agencies
The European Commission and any EU bodies, offices or agencies so defined in accordance with EU law established in the EU to accomplish specific tasks of a legal, technical and/or scientific nature in a given policy field and to support the EU Member States.
A list of the EU bodies, offices or agencies may be found at http://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/agencies_en
European RTD Organisation
The intergovernmental scientific research organisations responsible for infrastructures and laboratories whose members are States, and the majority of which are COST Members.
The list of these organisations is available at http://www.eiroforum.org/about/organisations/index.html
Any organisation with a European or international membership, scope or presence, with its own legal personality promoting in particular scientific and technological cooperation, which should have an added value in the fulfilment of COST Mission.11
The procedures to join a COST Action can be found at: http://www.cost.eu/participate/join_action
2.3. COST OPEN CALL AND SESA PROCESS
COST Open Call is a one-stage submission process. Proposals may be submitted at any time through a dedicated secured online tool, the e-COST Submission Tool (further details are provided in Chapter 3).
COST publishes the official announcement of the Open Call on http://www.cost.eu/participate/open_call as well as the Collection Dates, the complete schedule, the description of the procedure, and the evaluation criteria.
The proposal Evaluation and Selection follows a three-step process further described in Section 4 of these guidelines:
Step 1 – Evaluation by Independent External Experts
Step 2 – Revision and Quality Check of Consensus Reports by ad hoc Review Panels
Step 3 – Establishment of a shortlist of selected proposals by COST Scientific Committee (SC)
The shortlist of proposals selected by the SC is submitted to the COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) for approval. Further details about the three-step process and the approval are provided in Chapter 4.
Proposals are evaluated per se and selected on a competitive basis, taking into account the available funds for the particular Open Call Collection.
COST reserves the right to involve observers to assess and provide feedback on the Evaluation and Selection process.
3. PREPARING AND SUBMITTING A PROPOSAL FOR A COST ACTION
3.1. REGISTRATION FOR SUBMISSION
Proposals shall be submitted by a network of proposers, represented by a Main Proposer affiliated to an institution located in a COST Full or Cooperating Member, or affiliated to a European RTD organisation (see Table 1), as described in Table 2: Network of Proposers’ eligibility by Affiliation Category (in the following section 3.3).
To submit a proposal to the COST Open Call, the Main Proposer has first to create an account (if not registered yet) in e-COST (https://e-services.cost.eu/). The Main Proposer will be able to create, manage and submit their proposal before the Collection Date, by logging into e-COST and selecting the e-COST Submission Tool, by clicking “Open Call”, “Create New proposal” (https://e- services.cost.eu/sesa) .
The proposal has a draft status until it is submitted. Once it is submitted, it may still be revised as many times as needed, before the Collection Date. N.B.: when being revised, the proposal loses its “submitted” status. In order to be evaluated, it needs to be submitted again before the Collection Date. Proposals that are not submitted will not be evaluated. The draft proposal is saved in the system and may be accessed and retrieved by the Main Proposer until the Collection Date. Please note that after the Collection Date the data related to the Network of Proposers become not available and should be re-encoded from the scratch in case of re-submission.
In order to avoid possible congestions of the e-COST Submission Tool, it is highly recommended to avoid submitting the proposal just before the Collection Date.
All enquiries concerning the Open Call can be addressed directly from the “contact us” link in e-COST or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
A submitted proposal may not be identical to another one submitted during the same collection. Should this occur, only the proposal submitted first shall be considered.
3.2. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
Please pay particular attention to this section and to each one of the following eligibility criteria12, COST Action proposals must:
Include a Network of Proposers from at least 7 different COST Full or Cooperating Members amongst which a minimum number shall be from COST Inclusiveness Target Countries as detailed in Annex to the present guidelines;
Be anonymous. In order comply with the double-blind principle of the evaluation:
o Proposals may not contain any direct or indirect reference to people and/or institutions participating in the Network of Proposers (be they Main or Secondary Proposers). This means that proposers and/or institutions’ names should neither be explicitly mentioned, nor be potentially identifiable through links to web pages or through references to their role and/or participation in existing or ended projects, grants, networks. (e.g. do not make statements such as “several members of the proposer network have been involved in previous FP7 projects, like ATTPS and ADAPTIWALL, and COST Actions, such as FP0901”); Exception:
o In section 3.3 “Network as a whole” of the “Technical Annex”. If you include a secondary proposer from a Non-COST Country Approved Institution [International Partner Country (IPC), Near Neighbour Country (NNC)] or Specific Organisation13, you can mention in this section the non-COST Country or Specific Organisation proposer’s name/institution name when describing the mutual benefit deriving from the participation of this institution;
Note on “References”:
o In the “References” section of the proposal, you may quote proposers’ own publication, only provided that: a) there is no evidence that the publication is authored by one or more of the proposers and b) it is only one of a set of other bibliographical references.
Address S&T challenges destined only for peaceful purposes;
Respect word and page limits as described in section 3.4.2 of this document. Do not change in anyway the compulsory format of the “Technical Annex” (font, margins, line spacing, etc.). Furthermore, do not provide links or references to any additional information about the proposal (web link to pages describing the proposal, audio-visual material, etc.);
Proposals may be declared non-eligible at any steps of the SESA process, whenever a breach of the above eligibility criteria is identified. Proposers will be informed by the COST Association of the non- eligibility of their proposal.
3.3. NETWORK OF PROPOSERS: REQUIREMENTS
The Network of Proposers must fulfil the following requirements:
The Network of Proposers must include at least 7 proposers affiliated to entities located in at least 7 different COST Full or Cooperating Members (one Main Proposer plus at least 6 Secondary Proposers) amongst which a minimum number shall be from COST Inclusiveness Target Countries as detailed in Annex. There can be more than one proposer per institution, as long as it is clearly beneficial for the proposed Action. The European Commission and EU bodies, offices or agencies, European RTD Organisations and International Organisations do not count as COST Full or Cooperating Members, even if they are geographically located in the territory of one of the COST Full or Cooperating Members. No letter of intention is required from their institution.
The Main Proposer acts as representative and contact point for the COST Association, and is also in charge of inviting and accepting Secondary Proposers to the Network. Please do not underestimate the time necessary to complete this task as acceptance implies completion of e- COST profiles.
All proposers must have a registered and updated e-COST profile (https://e-services.cost.eu) and specify their scientific expertise. Proposers should be aware that filling an e-COST profile may require some time. They should therefore make sure that the potential Secondary Proposers comply with this requirement in due time. If there are not 7 proposers in 7 different COST Full or Cooperating Members amongst which the required number from COST Inclusiveness Target Countries, the proposal is declared ineligible. Please note that after the Collection Date the data related to the Network of Proposers become not available and should be re-encoded from the scratch in case of re-submission.
The following table summarises the eligibility of Main and Secondary Proposers by affiliation:
(TABLE NOT AVAILABLE)
By joining or forming a Network of Proposer an individual accepts:
1. To share his/her personal data with the other members of the same Network and with COST
Scientific Committee Members.
The shared data are:
2. That the following data are used for aggregated statistics on the composition of the Network, to be disclosed to independent External Experts and Review Panel Members:
COST Full or Cooperating Members (number and list in alphabetic order); % of COST Inclusiveness Target Countries; NNCs (number and list in alphabetic order); IPCs (number and list in alphabetic order); European Commission and EU bodies, offices or agencies; European RTD Organisations; International Organisations.
The CNCs have access, via e-COST, to the full identity of the Main Proposers from their own country, the features of the Network of Proposers and the summary of these proposals. The identity of the proposers as well as the content of the proposals must remain confidential. COST expects an ethical behaviour from all the actors involved in COST activities at any level.
3.4. PROPOSAL TEMPLATE
Proposals for COST Actions have the following sections:
COST Mission, Policy and rules
All these sections are to be completed online with the exception of the “Technical Annex”. The instructions related to each section are given below.
3.4.1. GENERAL FEATURES
This section should be completed online in the e-COST Submission Tool. It contains mandatory fields that need to be filled in by the Main Proposer.
Open Call Collection identifier
Max. 12 words
The title of the proposal should describe at a glance what the proposal is about
Only original acronyms should be adopted, i.e., not in use by any other public or private entity
or research group, even if they are part of the Network of Proposers.
Acronyms may only contain letters and numbers. The use of symbols is not accepted, with
the exception of “-“and “@”.
Max. 250 words
Short abstract used to illustrate the challenge that the Action is proposing to address. A revised version of the text of this section will be used as a summary of the Action to be published in COST website, should the Action be approved.
Be brief, clear and “to the point”: illustrate your ideas in a concise manner and include what is the main S&T and/or societal Challenge the proposed Action aims to address.
Key expertise needed for evaluation
Minimum 1 key expertise and maximum 5 (recommended: 3) must be indicated. Multiple
choice selection of sub-fields to be chosen from six main S&T fields: natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical and health sciences, agricultural sciences, social sciences and humanities.
Please be aware that the independent external experts will be selected on the basis of the key expertise(s) you provide in this section.
Minimum 3 and maximum 5 keywords
Each keyword not exceeding 60 characters
These should exclusively refer to the S&T content of the proposal, including techniques or methodologies used or developed and/or infrastructures involved. Keywords are separated by commas. Keywords may be composed by multiple words. Generic keywords, such as “interdisciplinary”, “research coordination”, “science” or “networking”, as well as their combinations, should be avoided as they bring no information on the specific expertise needed to evaluate the proposal.
3.4.2. TECHNICAL ANNEX
The Technical Annex is composed by the following sections:
Section 1. S&T EXCELLENCE Section 2. IMPACT
Section 3. IMPLEMENTATION
To prepare the Technical Annex of your proposal, you must use the template available at www.cost.eu/Technical_Annex_Template and follow the instructions thereby provided.
N.B.: The length of the Technical Annex must not exceed fifteen (15) pages (eligibility criteria; see section 3.2). The first page with instructions has to be deleted when saving the proposal to PDF.
The template provided must not be modified and the formatting be kept (COST standard style: Arial font, size 10, line spacing 1 - choose “Normal,Text” style option from the ribbon styles gallery).
The instructions to complete each section are listed below. Section 3.6 provides the definitions of key- concepts useful for the preparation of the proposal.
Section 1 - S&T EXCELLENCE
1.1.1 Description of the Challenge (Main Aim)
1.1.2 Relevance and timeliness
Describe the research question(s) your proposal addresses. You should make a case for the relevance and timeliness of the identified challenge(s). Be concise, clear and “to the point”.
1.2.1 Research Coordination Objectives
1.2.2 Capacity-building Objectives
Provide a clear and concise description of the objectives showing their pertinence to the identified challenge. Please formulate the objectives in a “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) way.
1.3 Progress beyond the state-of-the-art and Innovation Potential
1.3.1 Description of the state-of-the-art
1.3.2 Progress beyond the state-of-the-art
1.3.3 Innovation in tackling the challenge
Describe briefly the state-of-the art in relation to the identified challenge, and highlight the progresses beyond the state of the art as well as the potential technological or socioeconomic innovation and scientific breakthrough.
1.4 Added value of networking
1.4.1 In relation to the Challenge
1.4.2 In relation to existing efforts at European and/or international level
Describe the added value of networking in relation to the identified challenge by highlighting why networking is the best approach.
Describe the added value of the proposed COST Action in relation to former and existing efforts (research projects, other networks, etc.) at the European and/or international level.
N.B: Pay particular attention not to breach the eligibility criterion of anonymity (check section 3.2 of these Guidelines!). In particular, do not link projects, networks, etc. with specific participants or institutions within the network of proposers (e.g. do not make statements such as “several members of the proposer network have been involved in previous FP7 projects, like ATTPS and ADAPTIWALL, and COST Actions, such as FP0901.”)
Section 2 - IMPACT
2.1 Expected Impact
2.1.1 Short-term and long-term scientific, technological, and/or socio-economic impacts
Describe in a clear way the scientific and/or technological and/or socio-economic impact realistically envisaged by the proposal in the short and longer term perspective.
2.2 Measures to Maximise Impact
2.2.1 Plan for involving the most relevant stakeholders
Identify the most relevant stakeholders and present a clear plan to involve them as Action participants.
2.2.2 Dissemination and/or Exploitation Plan
Present a clear and attainable plan for dissemination and/or exploitation of results, including IPR, if relevant14.
2.3 Potential for Innovation versus Risk Level
2.3.1 Potential for scientific, technological and/or socioeconomic innovation breakthroughs
Explain how the proposal addresses potential innovation and/or scientific breakthroughs with a convincing risk/return trade-off.
Section 3 - IMPLEMENTATION
3.1 Description of the Work Plan
Please note that you do not need to provide a budget breakdown at this stage, since the budget is allocated to the approved Actions by the COST Association on the basis of specific parameters and subject to budget availability15.
3.1.1 Description of Working Groups
Provide a detailed description of the different Working Groups. For each WG provide objectives, tasks, activities, milestones and list of major deliverables.
3.1.2 GANTT Diagram
Provide a graphical illustration of the time schedule for the different activities, tasks, and deliverables according to the management structure of the proposed Action.
3.1.3 PERT (Programme Evaluation Review Technique) (optional)
Provide a graphical representation of the different WGs showing their inter-relation. If needed, the same can be provided to show the inter-relation among the different tasks within each WG.
3.1.4 Risk and Contingency Plans
Identify the main risks related to the Work Plan and present a credible contingency plan.
N.B: Pay particular attention not to breach the eligibility criterion of anonymity (check section 3.2 of these Guidelines!).
3.2 Management structures and procedures
Describe the management structure and procedures of the proposed Action which should comply with COST rules. Be aware that:
The composition of the Action Management Committee (MC) is not defined at proposal stage. MC members are nominated by the COST Countries and can join the Action anytime during its lifetime.
The participation of WG members and ad hoc participants is decided by the MC.
WG and management structure may be changed by the MC at a later stage in compliance with COST
N.B: Pay particular attention not to breach the eligibility criterion of anonymity (check section 3.2 of these Guidelines!).
3.3 Network as a whole
Explain why your Network of Proposers can address the identified challenge and objectives of the proposed COST Action: make a case for the critical mass, expertise and geographical distribution needed for addressing the challenge and the objectives.
If your Network misses any of these features, present a clear plan for overcoming the identified gaps.
N.B: Pay particular attention not to breach the eligibility criterion of anonymity (check section 3.2 of these Guidelines!). However, if you include a secondary proposer from a Non-COST Country Approved Institution [International Partner Country (IPC), Near Neighbour Country (NNC)] or Specific Organisation, you can mention in this section the Non-COST Country or Specific Organisation proposer’s name/institution name when describing the mutual benefit deriving from the participation of this institution.
N.B: COST Policy should not be addressed in this section but in the dedicated section online.
Please complete this section online.
Max. 500 words
Free text section to list relevant references on the topic of the proposal further demonstrating
your awareness on the state-of-the-art of the given field(s). The list of references is optional. It is shown to the evaluators, but not assessed during the evaluation.
N.B: In compliance with the eligibility criterion of anonymity, proposers should ensure that the bibliography submitted respects this criterion (see section 3.2 of these Guidelines).
Note on “References”: in the “References” section of the proposal, you may quote proposers’ own publication(s), only provided that: a) there is no evidence that the publication is authored by one or more proposers and b) it is only one of a set of other bibliographical references.
3.4.4. COST MISSION AND POLICY
Please complete this section online. Summarize how the proposal addresses COST Mission and Policy. Please refer to Section 2.1 of this document for further details on the COST Mission and Policy.
COST Mission and Policy
Max. 1000 words
This is a free text section to allow the proposer to show how the Action proposal will contribute to address one or more of the COST Policy and rules. The proposer should list relevant activities planned in the proposal pointing out which COST Policy they target and how.
An example for COST Excellence and Inclusiveness Policy addressing ITC:
Seeking ITC researchers’ full involvement through:
o Leadership roles in COST Actions
Note that it is mandatory that one of the key leadership positions in the Action management (e.g. Action Chair, Vice-Chair, Working Group Leader, Grant Holder, STSM Coordinator) shall be reserved to a representative of a COST Inclusiveness Target Country
o Grant Holder role
The content of this section will be taken into account during the selection phase conducted by COST Scientific Committee.
3.4.5. NETWORK OF PROPOSERS
Please complete this section online. For further details please check Chapter 3, section 3.3. The following data of the Main Proposer are automatically extracted from her/his e-COST profile:
Network of Proposers’ Details
MAIN PROPOSER DETAILS
Year of birth
Years from PhD
Type of institution
Address of the institution
Sub-field of Science of the department
Core-Area of Expertise
The Main Proposer needs to invite the Secondary Proposers through the e-COST Submission tool, by clicking the “Network” section of the proposal under preparation. S/he has then to fill in the mandatory fields (first name, last name and e-mail address. The e-mail address has to be the one that is set as primary address in e-COST).
S/he then has to click the icon of the envelope, in order to prompt the system to send an invitation e- mail. The Secondary Proposers have to accept the invitation by following the link communicated in the e-mail. Upon their acceptance, the following data about the Secondary Proposers are extracted from their e-COST profile:
Secondary Proposers’ Details
Years from PhD
Core-Area of Expertise
The following aggregated information will then be displayed to the evaluators:
Network of Proposers’ Features
COST Full or Cooperating Members (number and list in alphabetic order)
% of COST Inclusiveness Target Countries
NNCs (number and list in alphabetic order)
IPCs (number and list in alphabetic order)
European Commission, EU bodies, offices and agencies
European RTD Organisations
Number of proposers
Gender distribution of proposers: Males (%) – Females (%)
Average number of years elapsed since PhD graduation of proposers
Number of Early Career Investigators
Core Expertise of proposers: distribution by sub-field of Science
Institutional distribution of the Network of Proposers
3.5. WRITING STYLE GUIDE
The COST Association strongly recommends to comply with the following requirements when drafting a proposal:
Checking language and spelling;
Presenting the text in a logical way, avoiding unnecessary repetition between the different sections;
Use of capital letters for COST-specific and Action-related expressions. A non-exhaustive list: COST Action, Action Chair, Action Management Committee, Working Group, Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM), Training School, Core Group;
Explaining all acronyms, including those commonly used in the Framework Programme context;
Use of "Europe" or "COST Member Countries" when referring to the overall geographical scope of COST. "European Union" or "EU Member States" should only be used to refer to the EU as a player ("EU legislation", "EU programmes", "EU policies" etc.) or when only EU Member State(s) need to be explicitly mentioned, excluding COST Members not being Member States of the EU;
Use of "framework" or "scheme" when referring to COST (COST is an intergovernmental framework, not an "EU instrument", although it is funded by the EU Framework Programme);
Avoiding pronouns such as “I”, “we”; rather use “the Action”;
Avoiding expressions such as “planned” or “proposed” when referring to the Action; rather use “aims at”, “will”, etc.;
3.6. DEFINITION OF KEY CONCEPTS USED IN COST PROPOSALS
This section clarifies COST definitions of key concepts to guide proposers in the preparation of proposals.
Challenges are the research questions addressed by a COST Action, targeting S&T and / or socio- economic problems.
In COST Actions, researchers, engineers, scholars or other stakeholders from different places and backgrounds are expected to work as a team towards the resolution of a S&T challenge. To respond to the challenge, the network needs not only coordination in working as a team, but also in gathering a critical mass of participants (researchers, engineers, scholars and other stakeholders) around the science and technology topic in question.
3.6.2. POTENTIAL INNOVATION/BREAKTHROUGH
Through the Actions, COST aims notably at enabling breakthrough scientific developments leading to new concepts, services, processes and products and thereby contributing to strengthening Europe’s research and innovation capacities.
When choosing a COST Action as an instrument to tackle the S&T Challenge, proposers must have a clear vision on the innovation potential of their endeavour.
COST Action objectives are the results that an Action needs to achieve in order to respond to its challenge. These are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) and twofold: Research Coordination Objectives and Capacity-building Objectives, in order to comply with COST Mission.
a) Research Coordination Objectives
These objectives entail the distribution of tasks, sharing of knowledge and know-how, and the creation of synergies among Action Participants to achieve specific outputs. Achieving these objectives turns COST Actions from initially scattered groups into one transnational team and leverages the existing funded research.
Examples of Research Coordination Objectives
Development of a common understanding/definition of the subject matter
Coordination of information seeking, identification, collection and/or data curation
Coordination of experimentation or testing
Comparison and/or performance assessment of theory/ model/ scenario/ projection/ simulation/ narrative/ methodology/ technology/ technique
Development of knowledge needing international coordination: new or improved theory/ model/scenario/ projection/ simulation/ narrative/ methodology/ technology/ technique
Achievement of a specific tangible output that cannot be achieved without international coordination (e.g. due to practical issues such as database availability, language barriers, availability of infrastructure or know-how, etc.)
Input to stakeholders (e.g. standardization body, policy-makers, regulators, users) -excluding commercial applications
Input for future market applications (including cooperation with private enterprises)
b) Capacity-building Objectives
Achieving these objectives entail building critical mass to drive scientific progress, thereby strengthening the European Research Area. They can be achieved by the delivery of specific outputs and/or through network features or types and levels of participation.
Examples of Capacity-building Objectives
Fostering knowledge exchange and the development of a joint research agenda around a topic of scientific and/or socio-economic relevance
Fostering knowledge exchange and the development of a joint research agenda around a new or emerging field of research
Bridging separate fields of science/disciplines to achieve breakthroughs that require an interdisciplinary approach
Acting as a stakeholder platform or trans-national practice community (by area of socio- economic application and/or market sector)
Involving specific target groups (e.g. newly established research groups, Early Career Investigators, the under-represented gender, teams from countries/regions with less capacity in the field of the Action)
3.6.4. COST ACTION STRUCTURE
This comprises the organisation of the Action in:
The Action S&T research and development activities necessary to achieve the objectives;
The internal organisation of the Action into Working Groups and other managing structures needed for the successful implementation of the Action;
The work plan including efficient use of the networking tools – meetings (Action MC meetings, Working Group meetings, workshops, conferences), Short Term Scientific Missions, Training Schools and Dissemination activities to share ideas and knowledge and create added value;
3.6.5. NETWORKING TOOLS
These are the tools through which eligible activities can be funded by COST. They include:
Meetings (Action Management Committee meetings, Working Group meetings, Workshops, Conferences),
Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs),
Please refer to the following link for further information: http://www.cost.eu/participate/networking
These tools can generate activities that, although not directly funded by COST, contribute to the proposed Action challenge.
3.6.6. ACTION ACTIVITIES
This definition encompasses all the activities organised by the COST Action, by means of the networking tools, in order to achieve the research coordination and capacity-building objectives.
3.6.7. RESULTS AND OUTPUTS
These are the direct results stemming from the COST Action activities. Outputs can be, among other, codified knowledge, tacit knowledge, technology, and societal applications:
Codified knowledge: Knowledge expressed through language (including mathematics, music etc.) and thus capable of being stored on a physical support (i.e. transferrable knowledge) – e.g. publications; patents, websites.
Tacit knowledge: Not formalised knowledge, resulting from the participation in the COST Action networking activities and the social interaction among its members that can also be re- invested in other contexts.
Technology: Knowledge embedded in artefacts either ready to use or not, such as machinery or software, new materials or modified organisms –e.g. a prototype, a database.
Societal applications: Use of any kind of knowledge (codified, tacit, technology) to perform specific tasks.
Societal applications require the active participation of stakeholders (such as business enterprises, practitioners, regulators, users) within the lifetime of an Action. If stakeholders are not involved, then societal applications may only be considered as possible future impacts resulting from the envisaged outputs, rather than direct Action outputs (e.g. use of a methodology developed by the Action by a community of practitioners not participating to the Action).
Impact is the effect or influence on short-term to long-term scientific, technological, and/or socio- economic changes produced by a COST Action.
Deliverables are distinct, expected and tangible outputs of the Action, meaningful in terms of the Action’s overall objectives, such as: reports, documents, technical diagrams, scientific and technical papers and contributions, content for training schools, input to standards, best practices, white papers, etc. Action deliverables are used to measure the Action progress and success.
Milestones are control points in the Action that help to map progress. They can be Core Group or Action MC meetings, mid-term reviews etc. They are needed at intermediary stages so that, if problems have arisen, corrective measures can be taken.
4. HOW COST PROPOSALS ARE EVALUATED, SELECTED AND APPROVED – CORE PRINCIPLES AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST RULES
The Open Call Evaluation, Selection and Approval procedure fulfils three core principles: excellence, fairness and transparency. COST strives to avoid any Conflict of Interest (CoI) and all those involved in the SESA process must commit to confidentiality.
4.1. CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COST expects an ethical behaviour from all the participants in COST activities.
The CoI rules apply to all those concerned by the SESA process (CNCs, independent External Experts, Review Panel Members, Scientific Committee Members, and CSO members). Each individual involved in the evaluation, selection and approval of proposals shall have only one role in the evaluation, selection and approval of a COST Action and may not take any benefit from any Action approved under the particular Collection Date they participated in.
Independent External Experts having evaluated a proposal may not participate in the Action deriving from that proposal;
Review Panel Members may not participate in any Action approved following the evaluation process in which they were involved in that position.
CNCs, Scientific Committee Members and CSO members may not be Action Participants
A Conflict of Interest can be real, potential or perceived.
1. Cases of Real Conflict of Interest
The person involved in the evaluation or selection procedures (independent External Expert, Review Panel Member, and Scientific Committee Member):
Has been involved in the preparation of the proposal;
2. Cases of Potential Conflict of Interest
The person involved in the evaluation or selection procedures (Independent External Expert, Review Panel Member, and Scientific Committee Member):
Was aware of the preparation of the proposal;
Has a professional or personal relationship with a proposer;
Stands to benefit directly or indirectly if the proposal shall be accepted or rejected.
3. Cases of Perceived Conflict of Interest
The person involved in the evaluation or selection procedures (Independent External Expert, Review Panel Member, Scientific Committee Member):
Feels for any reason unable to provide an impartial review of the proposal. The table below summarizes the cases of Conflict of Interest.
(TABLE NOT AVAILABLE)
If the CoI is confirmed/identified before the evaluation starts, the person concerned will not be able to participate in the evaluation/selection procedure in the ongoing collection and is replaced.
If the CoI is confirmed/identified during the evaluation/selection:
o The person must stop evaluating/selecting in the ongoing collection and is replaced; o Any comments and marks already given shall be discarded.
3. If the CoI is confirmed/identified after the evaluation/selection has taken place, the COST Association shall examine the potential impact and consequences of the CoI and take appropriate measures.
The COST Association has the right to take the lead in any resolution process of a CoI situation at any moment of the evaluation and selection.
All cases of CoI must be recorded. All those related to nationally nominated actors (Review Panel Members and COST Scientific Committee Members) are reported to the COST National Coordinator.
Declaration of Conflict of Interest
Any person involved in the evaluation or selection procedures (independent External Expert, Review Panel Member, and Scientific Committee Member) shall sign a declaration stating/accepting he/she:
Is not aware of any conflict of interest regarding the proposal(s) to be evaluated/selected;
Shall inform immediately the COST Association of any conflict of interest discovered during the evaluation process;
Shall maintain the confidentiality of the procedure.
Failure to declare the CoI may have the following consequences:
Notification to the COST Association Director;
Notification to the respective CNC for Review Panel Members;
Notification to the CSO for Scientific Committee Members;
Removal of the expert from the COST Expert Database.
COST expects that each person involved in the SESA process (independent External Expert, Review Panel Member, Scientific Committee Member, CNC and CSO member):
Treats confidentially any information and document, in any form (i.e. paper or electronic), disclosed in writing or orally in relation to the performance of the evaluation;
Does not, either directly or indirectly, disclose any confidential information or document related to proposals or applicants, without prior written approval of the COST Association;
Not discuss any proposal with others, including other evaluators or staff not directly involved in evaluating the proposal, except during formal discussions at dedicated ad hoc Review Panels and Scientific Committee meetings.
Not disclose any detail of the evaluation process and its outcomes, nor of any proposal submitted, for any purpose other than fulfilling their tasks as evaluator;
Not disclose the names of other experts participating in the evaluation;
Under no circumstances should the proposers contact any of the actors involved in the SESA process regarding their proposal. Any attempt to do so may lead to immediate exclusion of the proposal from the process.
4.3. PROPOSAL EVALUATION, SELECTION AND APPROVAL
As outlined in Section 2.3, the proposal Evaluation, Selection and Approval procedure is divided into three steps, which are described below.
4.3.1. STEP 1 – PROPOSAL EVALUATION BY INDEPENDENT EXTERNAL EXPERTS:
Independent External Experts carry out the remote peer-review evaluation. They are identified, selected and assigned to proposals on the basis of their scientific and technological expertise necessary for the evaluation of proposals. This will notably be based on Research Areas and/ or keywords chosen by the network of proposers themselves.
This step uses double-blind peer review, which means the identity of both experts and proposers is kept confidential from each other. Each proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent External Experts. The evaluation is performed remotely and each External Expert submits an evaluation report for each proposal s/he evaluates. One of the experts is appointed Rapporteur, with the responsibility to coordinate the preparation and submission of the Consensus Report.
Following the submission of the individual evaluations, a consensus is sought among the External Experts (remotely) and a Consensus Report is drafted. Consensus shall not be imposed and External Experts may maintain their views on the proposal. In the cases where no consensus is reached, the three Individual Evaluation Reports will be sent to the ad hoc Review Panels who are in charge of the quality check and resolution of discrepancies.
The Individual Evaluation Reports are structured as follows:
o S&T Excellence
The independent External Experts check the following eligibility criteria (see section 3.4.2 of this document):
The table below presents the evaluation criteria and sub-criteria, as well as the respective maximum scoring at this stage of the procedure. The overall threshold to access to the selection stage is also indicated.
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