MARGISTAR Launches First Call for Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)


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MARGISTAR launches its first call for Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) for Missions occurring between May 1 and September 30, 2024.

Up to €4,000 available for Short Term Scientific Missions

MARGISTAR has launched the Action’s first grant to support researchers in their participation in a Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM). This call is open until March 17, 2024, and applies to STSMs occurring no later than September 30, 2024. All STSMs must occur before that date. For applications presented under this first call, participant mobility cannot start before May 1, 2024.

A STSM is a visit to a host organisation located in a different country than the country of affiliation by a researcher or innovator for specific work to be carried out and for a determined period of time (between 5 to 180 days). The STSM grant provides a contribution for travelling, accommodation, and subsistence expenses, implementation of the project, delivery of the report to the COST Action Management Committee, and overall effort.

The aim of an STSM is to contribute to significantly increasing the visibility of the MARGISTAR Action in the research community, while also increasing the visibility of the presenter. MARGISTAR STSMs should deal with topics relevant for the MARGISTAR COST Action. These relate to the sustainability of mountainous areas (e.g., natural, environmental, social, and economic inter-relationships and interactions in mountainous areas, and environmental, social, economic, and political challenges of mountains) and, in particular, with periphery traps, visions of post-marginalised futures, and transformation pathways in, of, and for mountain areas.

Who is eligible to receive the MARGISTAR STSM Grant?

The MARGISTAR STSM Grant is intended for researchers and innovators affiliated with a legal entity according to the Annotated Rules for COST Actions. To be eligible, candidates must have prepared a STSM project with an international team to gain new knowledge or access to equipment or techniques not available in the home institution. The main subject of the STSM must be in line with the scope and topics of MARGISTAR.

To be eligible, applicants should be aware of the following:

  • The deadline for applications under this call is 18:00 CET on 17 March, 2024.
  • This call is for STSMs occurring no later than 30 September, 2024, and all STSM activities must
    be finalised before that date.
  • For applications presented under this first call, mobility starts after May 1, 2024.
  • After the end of the STSM, the grantee must submit the travel documentation (15 days after the
    end of the mission) and a report (within 30 days after the mission). The grant payment will be made after the approval of the report by the MC Chair. The application, submission of the STSM report, approval of the report, and grant payment must happen during the same Grant Period (i.e., before September 30, 2024).

The Grantee can perform the mission anywhere in the world. The financial support is a contribution to the overall expenses incurred during the STSM and may not necessarily cover all of the associated outgoings. Participant grants are non-commercial transactions, therefore, claims as such are not subject to VAT deduction. Taxes normally due or applicable concerning the payment of the grant are not to be deducted from amounts payable to participants. It is the responsibility of each participant to ensure that all amounts that they receive from COST funding are compliant with their national tax rules and obligations.

How do applicants apply for the MARGISTAR STSM Grant?

The application process is organised through the e-COST platform. To apply, applicants must log in and click on the ‘Grant Applications’ tab. The application form can be accessed by clicking ‘Apply for grant’ and selecting ‘Short-Term Scientific Mission Grant’ on the ‘Apply for new grant’ page. The application form requires the following details:

  • Title
  • Start and end date (within the active Grant Period, i.e., no overlap over two consecutive Grant Periods);
  • Budget requested by the applicant;
  • Information about the host institution and contact person.

To complete an application, the following documents must be uploaded:

  • Application form (template available here) describing: goals, description of the work to be carried out by the applicant, expected outcomes, and a description of the contribution to the Action MoU objectives.
  • A confirmation of the host receiving the applicant.
  • A short CV in the Europass format.
  • A breakdown of the estimated costs of the STSM.

Please note that the evaluation process of submitted applications takes some time and the applicant cannot start their mobility period before having received the evaluation outcomes and Grant Letter.

How will STSM applications be evaluated?

Following the application deadline on March 17, all STSM applications will be assessed by the MARGISTAR Grant Awarding Coordinators and MARGISTAR Core Group. It is anticipated that decisions will be made within ten working days of the deadline. The MARGISTAR Core Group will evaluate applications according to the following criteria:

  1. Contribution to the achievement of MARGISTAR COST Action objectives and deliverables: In particular, the assessment will consider the relevance of the proposed STSM for MARGISTAR Action objectives, the contribution to the scientific advancement of the proposal based on the abstract and application form submitted, and the publication and/or outcome potential of the research carried out. The exhaustiveness of the explanation provided of how the STSM will support MARGISTAR in achieving its scientific objectives will be highly considered in the evaluation. Priority will be given to MARGISTAR members and those with relevant research interests in the Action topic (i.e., sustainability of mountainous areas, natural, environmental, social, and economic inter-relationships and interactions in mountainous areas, and environmental, social, economic, and political challenges of mountains, and in particular periphery traps in mountain areas, visions of post-marginalised futures, or transformation pathways in, of, and for mountain areas).
  1. The compliance of the application (goals, expected outcomes) with the expertise of the coordinator from the Host Institution.
  1. The contribution to the applicant’s career development in terms of accessing new knowledge, equipment, or techniques not available in the home institution. The applicant should explicitly address in the cover letter the motivation for the STSM in terms of the new knowledge, expected grantee’s visibility, and contribution to their career development. The establishment of new contacts for future collaborations and its impact on the applicant’s career will be strongly considered in the evaluation.  
  1. Inclusiveness criteria: Applicants not benefitting from other funds (all types, directly or indirectly) will have priority. Gender balance, geographic coverage, and distribution among different WGs will be also considered. Young researchers and innovators (under 40 years old) and early career researchers (PhD students or ECI early career investigators, PhD +10 years) will be prioritised when applications are evaluated. Previously successful applicants are not precluded from applying, but preference and priority will be given to applicants who have not been awarded a MARGISTAR STSM grant before.
  1. Coherence of the proposal, considering cost (the proposed budget), mobility (the duration and destination of the proposed travel), and impact of the STSM in terms of fostering collaboration within the COST Action (STSMs developed in the frame of a collaborative project within two different MARGISTAR Member Countries will be preferred).

Once the evaluation process is complete, selected applicants will be notified by email by the Grant Awarding Coordinator. All applicants will receive a formal notification through e-cost informing them about the outcomes of the selection and whether the request has been approved or not. Selected applicants receive a Grant Letter stating the approved amount and the conditions for receiving the grant. In no case the Applicant can start their mobility period before having received the Grant Letter.

What financial support is included in the STSM grant?

The following funding conditions apply and must be respected in STSM:

  • Up to €4,000 in total can be awarded to each successful STSM applicant.
  • Up to €160 per day will be allocated for accommodation and subsistence expenses.
  • Up to €1,000 will be allocated for travel costs.

The number of STSMs approved and the amount granted for each STSM will be determined during the evaluation process by the Grant Awarding Coordinator, in cooperation with the Core Group.

The maximum financial support granted for each STSM will be determined during the evaluation process by the Grant Evaluation Committee (i.e., the MARGISTAR Core Group), taking into consideration available resources, the amount requested, and the duration and the location of the STSM.

For this first call, the Management Committee of COST Action MARGISTAR has allocated a budget of €14,000 for Short-Term Scientific Mission grants. The amounts granted for each STSM will depend on the location of the STSM and the length of the mobility, and will be determined during the evaluation process.

Grantees must make their own arrangements for all health, social, personal security, and pension matters.

What do grantees need to do during and after the STSM?

The applicant is responsible for choosing and contacting the host institution and for organising the application process.

During the STSM

The STSM must take place as foreseen in the submitted Application. If the STSM work plan includes delivering a presentation in the host institution (e.g., a seminar or lecture), the grantees must acknowledge COST and MARGISTAR in the presentation properly and must use the official logos and visual identity.

In addition, the grantees are expected to actively network with researchers at the host institution and promote the COST Action to the potential stakeholders.

If the STSMs dates are modified, the grantee should get in touch with the Grant Awarding Coordinator as soon as possible and provide an updated letter justifying the change, that in any case might happen by September 30, 2023,

After the STSM

After completion of the STSM, the grantee must submit travel documentation, report, and supporting documentation via the e-COST system within 30 days from the end date of the STSM (or 15 days after the end of the Grant Period, whichever date comes first) in order to claim the grant.

Late submission, beyond the deadline, leads to a cancellation of the Grant.

The grantee will receive an e-notification to submit the report and other supporting documents on e-COST. The grantee must submit it in e-COST and to the Grant Awarding Coordinator the following documents:

  • Payment claim via e-COST.
  • Report to the Action MC on the work developed, main achievements of the STSM and
    planned future follow up activities. This report should be done using the COST template.
  • A blog post about the STSM to be published in the MARGISTAR blog. The template will be
    provided by the STSM Grant coordinator. The use of the template is mandatory.
  • Receipts of travel and accommodation.

Payment of the Grant is subject to the report being pre-approved on behalf of the Action’s Management Committee by the delegated Grant Awarding Coordination team. The grant is payable up to 30 days after the grantee’s report and supporting documents have been approved by the Action Chair (or Vice-Chair).

STSMs grantees may request up to 50% pre-payment of the approved grant. This amount is subject to availability of funds and approval by the Grant Holder Institution. The request of prepayment shall be submitted to the Grant Holder Manager. In cases when the Grant Holder approved a pre-payment of up to 50% of the grant for an STSM, the amount is paid by the Grant Holder at any moment before or during the duration of the STSM. The Grant Holder needs to ensure adequate tracking of any amount pre-paid and record in e-COST the total final grant after the mission has been fulfilled.

Please note that the COST Association and Action’s Grant holder can request additional information to substantiate the information contained within the documents submitted by STSM applicants.

For additional information about this call, please contact MARGISTAR’s Short-Term Scientific Missions Grants contact and WG3 leader Prof Miglena Zhiyanski or WG3 co-leader and Junior Researcher Antonio Monteiro. 

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The MARGISTAR forum reflects collaboratively on natural, environmental, social, and economic inter-relationships and interactions in mountainous areas, and identifies a range of environmental, social, economic, and political challenges. It enables innovation by co-designing pathways for the transformation of marginalised mountainous areas towards their green, digital and healthy futures.

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