Proposal writing hints


Prepare the details of your experiment before you start writing your proposal. Do not wait until right before the proposal deadline because the ILL scientist(s) involved in your project will not have the time to read the text before its final submission.

  1. Identify the instrument(s) and sample environment(s) needed
  2. Consult with an ILL scientist to discuss and prepare your experiment.
  3. Decide how many proposals you will submit, in case you need several instruments: make sure that the scientific case, experimental plan and time requested is sufficiently detailed for each instrument. If the available space is not enough, consider submitting different proposals for different instruments, and include the proposals numbers in the respective submissions. If an instrument cannot be allocated, will it render the other experiment(s) useless? Is there a priority between instruments requested?
  4. Update your publications record and research existing literature to place your study in the context of what others are doing; make sure that the library database contains any articles and PhD theses from your group making use of ILL data. Check that these articles from you and your co-proposers are also correctly linked to ILL beam time. During the submission process, you will be asked to include a list of papers published in the last 5 years arising from ILL experiments; only articles found in the library database may appear.
  5. If you resubmit a rejected proposal, you must address the panels comments which you have received. Failing to do so may impact negatively the evaluation of the proposal.
  6. Ask your ILL contact to give you feed back on your text


- Limit to two pages – use font larger than 11 points - make sure that the figures and their captions are clear enough. Proposals not easy to read could be rejected by the panels.


Give a brief statement on (i) the scientific background, (ii) the importance of the research you are conducting with this proposal and (iii) the broader significance of this work.
Clearly state what scientific question is raised and should be answered with this proposed experiment.

Previous results

Give results of preliminary work carried out with complementary techniques and of any modelling or simulations you have performed.
Summarize any previous results obtained from neutron or X-ray experiments (at the ILL or elsewhere), and/or refer to an existing experimental report.
Any information justifying the beam time request should appear in the proposal, including expected signal-to-noise, E and/or q-range needed, resolution required.
You can contact an instrument responsible for assistance, or the college secretary if you are not sure which instrument you should apply for.

The proposed experiment

Give a clear account of the aim(s) of the experiment and a detailed description of the experiment and all the samples.
State why neutrons in general and the ILL in particular are necessary for your experiment.

Choice of instrument

Explain why you need the chosen instrument. If beamtime cannot be awarded on the requested instrument, state alternate instruments on which some or all the experiment could be carried out. Provide the instrumental configuration(s) (the instrument responsible should be contacted for advice).
For multi-instruments proposals: make sure that the scientific case, experimental plan and time requested is sufficiently detailed for each instrument. If the available space is not enough, consider submitting different proposals for different instruments.

Experimental plan

State clearly and exactly the research tasks to be carried out. List the number of samples and sample environment conditions (for example, temperatures, pressures) and estimate the measuring time for each sample, or sample condition, to show how you calculated the overall beam time requirements. ILL instrument scientists will be able to help you with this..

Data analysis and scientific outcomes

Include 1-3 sentences describing the methods you will use to analyse and interpret the data. Discuss how the results from this proposal will impact your research and how they will advance the field (e.g., model validation, answers to long-standing questions, etc.).


List references needed to understand the experiment proposed, the significance of the research, and importantly articles with similar work, articles using the same data analysis method you will apply, and articles from your group demonstrating your expertise. Add the DOI and create hyperlinks to online resources to facilitate the subcommittee-members' tasks.


Below you will find selected examples of well written (and accepted) proposals submitted to the ILL in the past.

For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact: