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 application closed at June 30th 2023!


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:

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 justified
  • 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.

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 Annotated Rules) 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.

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 Annotated Rules
  • 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 fill the application form available on e-COST as described below and upload three (3) other documents: at least 45 days before the anticipated start of the STSM
  1. Application form (template available on e-COST) describing: Goals, description of the work to be carried out by the applicant, expected outcomes and description of the contribution to the Action MoU objectives, Budget requested with costs breakdown. For guidance the application shall include the following:
    1. Motivation statement by the applicant including benefits and capability to complete the proposed STSM
    2. Background and objectives:
      • Purpose and objectives (immediate and longer-term);
      • State of the art and new knowledge or/and experimental innovations to be brought by the proposed research, including a list of relevant references;
      • Justification for the host institute selection;
      • Benefits for the Home institution.
    3. Workin Plan
      • Details of the experiments to be carried out including an informative timetable of the experimental work; If the STSM duration is more than a week, the workplan should be detailed for each week.
    4. Results
      • Expected results, potential or immediate application(s)
    5. Dissemination
      • Plan for disseminating the results (publications, conference, workshops, visibility of the results)
      • Specify if there is intention to apply for dissemination tools (ITC Conference Grants, Dissemination Meetings)
    6. Contribution to ENFORCE TXRF objectives
      • Specify the Action objective(s) that this STSM will contribute to achieve (please refer to the specific Research Coordination and Capacity Building Objectives as reported in the MoU)
      • Briefly describe the applicant’s involvement in the COST action (if applicable)
      • Briefly describe the benefits to CA 18130 in general and in particular for its working groups (for example: timeless and relevance of the STSM topic with respect to WG activities, timeline, deliverables…)
  2.  Confirmation of the host on the agreement from the host institution in receiving the applicant;
  3. Recommendation letter;
  4. CV of the applicant;
  • The applicant will be notified about the result of the evaluation procedure in due time (The Action STSM Committee will evaluate 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 required documentationfor claiming a STSM grant is following:

  1. Report to the Action MC on the work developed, main achievements of the STSM and planned future follow up activities. For guidance the report shall include the following items:
    • 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).

  2. Confirmation letter by the host institution of the completion of activities
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 ( and the STSM Commitee (


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 (

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