Information Guide for the implementation of the scheme

for Short-Term Scientific Missions in the COST framework




General information

The aim of a Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM) shall be to contribute to the realisation of the scientific objectives of a COST Action.

These Missions shall strengthen the existing networks by allowing scientists to go to a laboratory in another COST country to learn a new technique or to make measurements using instruments and/or methods not available in their own laboratory.

The Management Committee (MC) is responsible for recommending to the Commission the Institute to be charged with the administration of the missions. The MC is also responsible for selecting the candidates to receive support, based on the applications received. The justification for the choice must be recorded in the minutes of an MC meeting.

The Administrating Institute is responsible for all financial aspects with respect to the Commission.


This initiative does not involve extra funding for an Action but instead should allow easier or simpler access to some of the funds already available. In addition, the support may be viewed as a contribution to the costs of a mission and not necessarily as covering all the costs in each case.

Short-term Scientific Missions between different Actions of the same field might be considered by the Management Committees involved in exceptional and fully justified cases.


The applicant must be employed in a laboratory of a COST Member State having signed the MoU of the Action concerned. This laboratory should be actively participating in the COST Action. Undergraduates may not be considered.


The applicant must travel to another COST Member State where he or she is not normally resident.


The host institution can be public or private, but must be in a COST Member Country having signed the MoU and must be participating in the COST Action.


The Administrating Institute


1. The Administrating Institute will sign a contract letter with the Commission and will then be responsible for the payments to the successful applicants (hereinafter researchers) of the STSMs and for reporting back to the Commission. The contract will include a fixed amount of 1.000 ECU to cover the management overheads incurred by the Institute. The allocation of the Commission grant shall not be subject to any local or national tax.


2. The Commission will make an advance payment of 90 % of the total to the Administrating Institute when the contract letter is signed. The final payment will be subject to the receipt of reports from the Institute including financial details of all missions.

3. The advance payments to the researchers should be paid a reasonable time before the mission.


4. When all missions have been completed, the Institute will send a complete file of all expenses and reports of the researchers to the Commission COST Secretariat. The Commission will then reimburse the outstanding balance of 10 % to the Administrating Institute.


5. The financial contribution of the Commission will not exceed 11.500 ECU per Action for a period lasting at least one year and finishing before 31 December of the following year. It is not possible to request subventions with overlapping durations. The amount is intended to cover the administrative costs of the Administrating Institute (1000 ECU) and 7 missions at least.

It is hoped that as many different scientists as possible will be able to take advantage of the support available and the 7 missions should be viewed as an absolute minimum. The average contribution for a mission will normally therefore be less than 1.500 ECU and it may be reasonable to view this amount as a normal ceiling with any exceptions needing special justification. The cost associated with the missions must not in any event exceed the limits set in the general guidelines used by the Commission for the reimbursement of travel by experts.


The Applicant


1. Eligibility: see under item "General"


2. Mission report


The researcher must send a mission report and a financial statement with copies of the expenses to the Administrating Institute within 4 weeks of the end of the mission. After verification, the balance should be paid promptly.


3. Host institute


The host institution can be public or private, but must be in a COST Member Country having signed the MoU and must be participating in the COST Action.

The researcher is responsible for obtaining the agreement of the host organization, for applying to the MC for approval and for providing the necessary records relating to the missions to the Administrating Institute. These records include the travel documents and the mission report.


4. Duration


Short-Term Scientific Missions, minimum 3 days, maximum 1 month, shall be made within the duration of the respective COST Action.

Applications may be submitted at any time to the MC, bearing in mind that delays must be taken into account for the evaluation and for the administrative procedure.


5. Application forms should be sent to the MC or the Secretariat of the COST Action


6. Evaluation


The evaluation of the requests will be made by the MC taking into account the scientific value of the proposed work as well as the reasonableness of the estimated costs requested. Incomplete applications will not be considered.


7. Finance

The average contribution for a mission will normally not exceed 1500 ECU.

Payments will be made as follows:


- 70% of the estimated costs in advance of the mission from the Administrating Institute

- 30% upon submission of a detailed statement of the use of the allocated funds, which must be returned not later than 4 weeks after the end of the mission.


The final statement must include the presentation of the necessary vouchers, in particular the original tickets used for travel, and a report of the mission duly refereed by the host institution.

Draft guidelines for mission reports are available from the Administrating Institute.


Travel will be paid using either (1) Economy class airfare if the single journey exceeds 400 km (APEX tickets recommended), (2) rail fare, or (3) car travel up to a sum not exceeding the rail fare.


For the period of the mission neither the Management Committee of the COST Action nor the Commission is in any way the employer and recipients must make their own arrangements for all health, social, personal security and pension matters.


The Management Committee


1. Researchers seeking support should submit to the MC a completed application form accompanied by a completed acceptance form from the host institution.


2. The Management Committee may, if appropriate, set up an ad-hoc group of 3 to 5 MC members to take charge of the selection and which will be competent for all matters relevant to STSMs.


3. The chairperson will send copies of the applications to the M.C. or to the agreed ad-hoc group of 3 to 5 MC members.


4. Each member of the MC or of the ad-hoc group will individually evaluate each application using the evaluation form and return the evaluation forms to the chairperson.


5. Based on the individual comments of the M.C. or of the ad-hoc group, the chairperson will prepare proposals for approval at an M.C. meeting.


6. The approval by the MC of the selected applicants may be achieved either at an M.C. meeting or through a written procedure. In the case of a written procedure, the chairperson may stipulate a particular time limit within which M.C. members must indicate their opinion on the proposal. In the event that a M.C. member does not reply within the delay given, then a positive opinion may be presumed.


7. In any case, the chairperson will present, at an M.C. meeting the result of the evaluation. The procedure and results of the consultation will be detailed in the minutes of this meeting. The chairperson will inform the Administrating Institute as well as the Commission COST Secretariat (DG XII/B/I) on the approved list of researchers.

8. The chairperson has to notify the decisions of the M.C. to the successful and unsuccessful applicants.