Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) aim at supporting researchers’ individual mobility, strengthening the existing networks and fostering new collaboration. STSMs are intended especially, but not solely, for young researchers (ECI) so that they can visit an institution, laboratory or industry in another participating COST Country or an approved non-COST country institution. A STSM should specifically contribute to the scientific objectives of the ENFORCE-TXRF CA18130 Cost Action, mainly on the capacity building specific objectives, as listed in the Memorandum of Understanding. In addition, the STSMs should allow the grantees to learn new techniques, gain access to specific data, instruments and / or methods which would not be readily available in their home institutions / organizations.

The STSMs within ENFORCE-TXRF action will enable capacity building of young scientists, to acquire or exchange knowledge on TXRF and its technological applications. Thus, STSMs will support and enhance the applicant’s professional development and career. Moreover, STSMs will contribute in establishing in the participants’ laboratory proper protocols and standardized TXRF methodologies or chemical characterization opportunities, and to build sustainable cooperation partnerships.

The Call for STSM applications is open for the 1st Grant Period – 2019.03.13 to 2020.04.30


ENFORCE TXRF STSMs are intended to harness talents of young scientists for promoting the contribution of TXRF in many various fields of research, for creating new opportunity of analysis, by identifying novel application fields, and to enhance the analytical capabilities of the TXRF technique.

STSMs will strategically contribute to the Action’s scientific aim of maximizing TXRF research outputs by enabling collaborations on innovative methods in TXRF, in the establishment of laboratory standard operating procedures, by access to data analysis technology and complementary analytic tools, and by transferring knowledge to support careers and regional/international development. These STSMs will help boosting career path of new analysts, by detecting early career vocations and increasing skills and know-how of TXRF analysts, but also of researchers specialized in techniques complementary to TXRF.

STSMs are thought to reinforce the research capacities of the participating institutes and cooperation between them, and to increase awareness of policy –and decision-makers in governments, science and industry, and the public at large, of the opportunities offered by advancing the TXRF techniques potential and reliability.
Thus, bringing together researchers of different scientific backgrounds and TXRF specialists within international multi-disciplinary projects will increase the potential for scientific breakthroughs, high impact publications, creation of new research fields, building of interdisciplinary activities and creating collaborations that may not currently be represented by the TXRF community.

Eligibility Rules - Who Can Apply

STSM applicants must be engaged in an official research program as a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow or may be employed by, or affiliated to, an institution or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. The institutions/ organisations where applicants pursue their main strand of research are considered as Home Institutions. The Host Institution is the institution/ organisation that will host the STSM grantee. The Home and Host institution should be located in different countries. The following table shows the scenarios available to eligible STSM applicants:
Applicant's Home Institution STSM Host Institution
Located in another Participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member Located in another Participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member
Located in a Participating COST Partner Member
Action MC Observer from IPC
Action MC Observer from NNC
The EU Commission or an EU Body, Office or Agency
An Approved European RTD Organisation
An Approved International Organisation
Action MC Observer from NNC Located in a Participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member
Located in an Approved European RTD Organisation Located in a Participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member

Eligible STSM applicants must submit their STSM applications online at the following web address:

Applicants are responsible for obtaining the agreement of the host institution before the submission of their application. Geographical and gender balance issues will be taken into consideration for the selection of candidates, according to COST policies.

International COST participants may host STSM researchers from European COST countries, but may not apply for STSMs themselves. The possible destinations (Host institutions) for STSM include “ENFORCE TXRF” Participating COST Countries, NNC institutions, (European RTD Organisations) and IPC institutions. The list can be found at:

Evaluation and Selection of Applicants - Criteria for Awarding STSM

The evaluation of each received STSM application is performed by the STSM Committee of the Action. The selection of successful STSM applicants is done in consideration of the scientific scopes of the proposed mission and how the mission can support the Action in achieving its scientific objectives. There are special considerations made by the Action MC with respect to supporting COST policies on promoting gender balance, enabling Early Career Investigators (ECI), broadening geographical inclusiveness.

  • Evaluation and Selection criteria

STSM Applications will be evaluated assessing the coherence to the Research Coordination (RCO) and Capacity Building (CBO) Objectives of the ENFORCE TXRF MoU in consideration of the COST Policy of Excellence and Inclusiveness according to the following criteria.


  • Is the STSM fostering collaboration and/or establishing new scientific contacts in the field of TXRF analysis
  • Is the STSM a tool for the exchange of know-how, meaning that researchers either exchange expertise due to the planned scientific visit, get practical skills of using unique “technology” not available in their home institution or learn new theoretical methods or experimental approaches
  • Is the STSM timeliness with respect to the Action W&B plan and GPGs
  • Is the scientific quality of the proposed STSM high and the work plan for its realization is well founded
  • Is the budget breakdown reasonable and coherent with the workplan


  • No previous STSM by the same applicant
  • No previous STSM by the same home/host laboratory for a fair spread of researches across the network
  • Geographical distribution of applicants across the STSM calls: Prioritization to Early Career Investigator; PhD students
  • Gender balance across the STSM calls
  • Impact on the applicant’s career

Selection will be done on the basis of the scores attributes as detailed in the following table.

Criteria to score the STSM – one score of the CG
Excellence In reference to the MoU Objectives (weight 0.7)
Host/Home Institution adequacy reference to CBO (weight 0.4)
  • Relevance of the Host Laboratory’s infrastructures to support the STSM goals
  • Potential knowledge and technology transfer (either)
  • Postering collaboration and knowledge transfer
  • Training capacities
Proposal reference to RCO (weight 0.4)
  • High quality, clarity, timeliness of research
  • Work Plan Timeliness to GP Goals
  • Realistic goals of the project compared to its targeted duration
  • Coherence of the Budget and financial support justification
Dissemination Potential (weight 0.2)
  • Potential for publication and/ or dissemination of results
  • ITC Conference Grants possibility
Inclusiveness (weight 0.3)
Age and gender balance (weight 0.7)
  • Profile of the applicant (adequacy, ECI)
  • Impact of the STSM on the current activities and future carrier of the applicant
  • Involvement in the Action
Geographical Coverage (weight 0.3)
  • Home Institution
  • Host institution

The final grade for each proposal will be classified as good (<6), very good (7-8) and excellent (9-10). Outputs to the applicants will be given in terms of Approval and Not approval.

Criteria for STSM - Requirements

STSM must respect the following criteria:

  • They must have a minimum duration of 5 calendar days that includes travel.
  • STSM need to be carried out in their entirety within a single Grant Period and always within the Action’s lifetime.

The COST Association and the Grant Holder of the Action cannot to be considered as being an STSM grantee’s employer. STSM grantees must make their own arrangements for all provisions related to personal security, health, taxation, social security and pension matters.

STSM Financial Support

An STSM Grant is a fixed financial contribution which takes into consideration the budget request of the applicant and the outcome of the evaluation of the STSM application. STSM Grants do not necessarily cover all expenses related to undertake a given mission. A STSM Grant is a contribution to the overall travel, accommodation and meal expenses of the Grantee.

Financial support is given according to COST policies (see Vademecum) after the termination of the STSM and upon review of the STSM report, to be evaluated by the STSM Committee and by the Host institution. The grants are provided under the form of a reimbursement to the STSM successful grantee.

The calculation of the financial contribution for each STSM must respect the following criteria:

  • Up to a maximum of EUR 3 500 in total can be granted to each successful applicant;
  • Up to a maximum of EUR 160 per day can be granted for accommodation and meal expenses.
  • Up to a maximum of EUR 300 can be granted for travel costs.

Specific provisions have been introduced to enable researchers from ITC participating in the COST Action to request a pre-payment of 50% of their STSM Grant when they complete the first day of their STSM. In such case, the representative of the Host Institution must confirm by e-mail to the Grant Holder that the STSM applicant has officially started the mission on day 1. Only then the Grant Holder can arrange the payment of 50% of the STSM grant. The remaining 50% of the Grant is payable once the administrative requirements have been satisfied after the STSM.

Approving STSM for Payment

The STSM Grantee has 30 calendar days from the end date of the mission to submit a scientific report (See details in the Final Report section below) to the STSM Committee and to a senior researcher affiliated to the Host Institution.

Payment of the Grant is subject to a STSM scientific report being approved on behalf of the Action’s MC by the STSM Committee and by a senior researcher affiliated to the Host Institution. Written approval of the STSM scientific report by the aforementioned persons must be uploaded in e-COST for archiving purposes.


This is a step-by-step guide to applying for an STSM. The application process is as follows:
  • Applicants must carefully read the rules detailed herewith and in Section 8 of the COST Vademecum.
  • Applicants must submit an application via e-COST: If you do not already have an e-COST account, you will first need to ‘create an account’ – which will include providing the details of the bank account where the grant will be lodged if your STSM application is approved and the STSM successfully completed.
  • Applicants must provide the following five (5) documents (written in English) required for evaluation, to the Action STSM Committee ( at least 45 days before the STSM. Please provide the following documents with the naming indicated between brackets, and preferentially within a zip file (
  1. The STSM application submitted by eCOST (downloaded as pdf) (YourSurname_eCOST.pdf).
  2. A Letter of invitation to the applicant from a senior Researcher at the Host institution, confirming that they can undertake the STSM on the given dates (YourSurname_InvitationLetter.pdf).
  3. A letter of support from the Applicant’s Home Institution. For ECIs and PhD students a support letter by advanced career researcher / supervisor is required ((YourSurname_SupportLetter.pdf).
  4. A Full C.V. (including a list of publications – if applicable) (YourSurname_CV.pdf).
  5. The STSM Research Proposal (YourSurname_Proposal.pdf). It is recommended to use the available proposal template, including the following mandatory contents:
    • Overview of the proposed activities;
    • Workplan;
    • Contribution to the specific research coordination and capacity building objectives of the “ENFORCE TXRF” Action (see the Memorandum of Understanding);
    • Financial breakdown and other funding sources.
  • The applicant will be notified about the result of the evaluation procedure in due time (The Action STSM Committee will start to assess the STSM proposal within one month from the receipt of the online application).
  • If the STSM is allocated to the applicant, the Grant Holder will send to the applicant a grant letter to sign and return. The STSM should not be started until this letter has been signed and returned.

Final Report

The final report should describe the following.

  • Purpose of the STSM;
  • Work carried out during the STSM;
  • Main results obtained;
  • Future collaboration with the host institution (if applicable);
  • Foreseen publications/articles/technical reports resulting from the STSM;
  • Scientific by-products that will be disseminated as outcome of the STSM;
  • Potential impact of the STSM on the grantee carrier path;
  • Confirmation by the host institution of the successful execution of the STSM;
  • Other comments (if any).
If possible, include some pictures showing experiments, or group picture with host, take a short video of activities, experiments, explaining how STSM helped you in your research and your career. Be creative. This material should be sent to the Science Communication Manager (Ramon Fernandez Ruiz,, please include a release waiver to use this material.


Shall you have specific queries, you can contact the STSMs coordinator (Andreas Karydas,


Successful STSM grant holders must properly acknowledge their COST financial support, received through the ENFORCE TXRF COST Action CA18130, in their published work (paper, proceeding) as well as on the presentation slides for any work resulting from the STSM. To acknowledge COST please follow the available guidelines. To acknowledge the ENFORCE TXRF Action, the logo has to be put on each slides and presentation support.

Please add the following acknowledgement “This work was supported by the COST Action CA18130 ENFORCE-TXRF”. Send a copy of the article, abstract or other to the STSM Committee (

Useful Material

STSM Coordinator email: