Provision of trans-national access to all AQUACOSM facilities.
|Work package leader: FVB-IGB|
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WP6 of AQUACOSM aims to offer European researchers effective and well-organised access to unique and diverse aquatic mesocosm facilities. This will be achieved by transnational access (TA) activities. Emphasis is placed on providing high-quality infrastructures and services that enable users to conduct first-class experimental research focusing on the environmental change impacts on ecosystem dynamics. However, facilities are also open for any other suitable R&D project. An additional goal of transnational access offered to eligible researchers from Europe and third countries is to foster collaboration among users of different mesocosm facilities, with particular focus on new collaborations between currently separated scientific communities of users of freshwater and marine mesocosm infrastructure facilities, as well as with industries, environmental managers, and other relevant stakeholders. WP6 is a key element of AQUACOSM’s objective to extend the current mesocosm network from its established marine nucleus (rooted in the highly successful FP7 MESOAQUA project) to the freshwater science community and its unique infrastructures designed to perform experimental studies in streams and rivers, lakes and ponds, as well as estuaries across a broad geographic range from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. Through the trans-national access administered in WP6, AQUACOSM aims to greatly enhance the efficiency of experimental infrastructure management and service provision by means of optimised, harmonised, and coordinated access procedures (see also WP1). These efforts are complemented by an effective public interface established by WP5 at www.aquacosm.eu.
Description of work
WP6 will be led by Partner 1, FVB-IGB (Berger), assisted by Partner 3, UIB (Tsagaraki), and the Project Coordinator at FVB-IGB (Nejstgaard). The WP subsumes the activities of AQUACOSM relating to the provision of Transnational Access (TA). Standardized procedures for providing TA will be followed across all mesocosm facilities. General information is given here, since several core elements of WP6 are shared among most or all infrastructures. They relate to the Modality of Access, Support Offered, Review Procedures and Outreach to New Users. Detailed descriptions and specificities applicable to the individual infrastructures are described in Tasks 6.1 to 6.19.
Modality of access under AQUACOSM: Individual users or user groups (henceforth ‘users’) will be given access to the AQUACOSM partner infrastructures, equipment and services according to a standardized protocol (see below). The unit of access offered by all facilities is person-days, although details of access vary among infrastructures, depending on location, typical duration of experiments, required number of person-days, capacities of local staff, integration of AQUACOSM activities into established schedules, degree of user independence and other factors. Unless noted otherwise in the description of Tasks 6.1-6.19, costs are calculated as unit costs in € per user-day according to the methodology laid out by the European Commission. Included are costs incurring during experiments but also for preparatory work needed before and after the arrival of users at the site. Specific training on site required to complete a specific project is also included. An overview of all partner facilities access costs and the total of access provided is summarized in Table 3.2c whereas travel and subsistence costs are listed in Table 3.4.c.
Support offered under AQUACOSM: The logistic support and services offered to users supported by AQUACOSM Transnational Access is described individually for each of the mesocosm facilities (see Task 6-1-6.19). Generally, however, it includes travel costs, accommodation at the site, a per-diem as well as scientific, technical and administrative support. The scientific environment in which users will be embedded varies among locations, but scientifically strong, active and open-minded research groups associated with most AQUACOSM facilities typically ensure a stimulating and rewarding research experience during TA activities. The application process and administrative procedures before and during TA activities will be coordinated in WP6 and WP1 for the entire network of mesocosm infrastructures in AQUACOSM. However, each facility will manage all other aspects of its own TA activities, for which the facility providers are responsible.
Outreach to new users: An effort will be made to attract and support a wide range of users through AQUACOSM Transnational Access activities. In particular, WP6 will focus on attracting three distinct but not mutually exclusive groups of users:
- Researchers or developers from SMEs and other industries keen on developing or testing instruments or interested in other applications (see WP5.5, WP8)
- Researchers from countries that lack state-of-the-art freshwater or marine mesocosm facilities (see also WP5)
- Researchers not previously involved in experimental investigations conducted in aquatic mesocosm facilities
Information about opportunities for TA will be widely disseminated via various channels. The AQUACOSM website, in particular, will serve as a central hub to make TA calls for designated experiments and announce open time slots at all AQUACOSM facilities. In addition, announcements will be made through various other outlets developed in WP5, including social media and professional meetings.
Review procedure under AQUACOSM: TA proposals must be electronically submitted at www.aquacosm.eu (WP5.2) and undergo a standardised review-process compliant with EU-regulations. Users will be selected based on the principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality:
- Incoming TA applications are initially collected, sorted and registered by the AQUACOSM Project Office (WP1) and checked for formal compliance according to the present European Commission Requirements.
- The Project Office then forwards all formally correct applications to the independent User Selection Panel (USP), which is composed of four distinguished aquatic scientists with international expertise on all aquatic systems addressed in WP6 (see 3.2)
- The USP is asked to prioritise applications for transnational access according to a set of transparent criteria (see Application Assessment). Most important are scientific merit and attributes of prospective users as defined above.
- The Steering Committee (SC) and WP6 task leaders will then comment on the feasibility of the proposed activities at the specific sites based on the available expertise, collaboration potential and schedules at the respective facility.
- Final decisions are taken by the USP after consultation of the SC and respective task leaders.
- Facility providers start organising the planned activity as soon as they are informed about approved TA applications
- Decisions on TA approval will be also reported to the Project Office and publicly communicated via the outreach pathways of WP5.
D6.1 Report on quantity of Transnational Access delivered by all partner facilities (6.1-6.19) before M24, to be delivered with the 2nd Scientific report to the EC (M36)
D6.2 Report on quantity of Transnational Access delivered by all partner facilities (6.1-6.19) between M25 and M46, to be delivered with the 3nd Scientific report to the EC (M48)