Loan Information

Since its establishment in 1988 the Field Spectroscopy Facility has supported over 500 loans in research projects worldwide. We welcome applications from research scientists both in academia and industry. Applicants from the commercial sector are requested in the first instance to contact the FSF Facility Manager. All other applicants, including those from universities and research institutes, are required to submit a Loan Application form.

Please note. The Field Spectroscopy Facility instruments are owned by NERC and NERC fully funds the 2 FTE posts required to staff FSF. To justify this support the Facility is required annually produce evidence of the support it gives to the UK research community and the scientific benefit to the UK that is derived from that support. NERC regard publications as the prime indicator of science supported by FSF. Publications, therefore, are the primary means by which the value of the Facility to the scientific community is judged. Any investigators in receipt of a NERC FSF loan is required to supply bibliographic references and if possible copies of all publications (including PhD theses, non refereed publications including conference presentations and proceedings and any other publicity relating to their work) which discuss or describe results obtained through the use of Facility equipment. It is a NERC requirement that support given by NERC and FSF be acknowledged in all such publication. In addition, when substantial and detailed advice is given by FSF staff, when FSF post processing templates and when FSF calibration services are used these should also be acknowledged or cited as appropriate in any subsequent publications. Your help with this will be greatly appreciated and will ensure the continued support of the Facility by NERC.

The details below are intended to provide prospective applicants with enough information to enable easy understanding of the processes surrounding the submission of an application.

Stage 1: Contact the FSF Manager to discuss your requirements

It is advisable to contact the Facility prior to submitting an application in order to discuss your requirements with the FSF Operations Manager. Please see our contact pages for details of how to get in touch.

Stage 2: Submit an application

Before a loan can be arranged, potential users of equipment are requested to complete an application form. This form requests information about the proposed project, and asks for details of any fieldwork planned, possible dates for fieldwork, and an outline of the science case and methodology surrounding the proposal. Requested loan dates must allow time for transporting of equipment from and to Edinburgh, particularly if you are taking the equipment abroad. For further information refer to the 'Transport of Equipment' section (7) at the bottom of this page. One electronic copy of the application form should be emailed to us and also a signed copy sent through the post.

FSF has two deadlines for submission of applications, these are given below. They were chosen to tie in with the NERC Airborne Remote Sensing Facility (ARSF) winter application deadline. Please submit your application form in time for the relevant deadlines. Those applicants requiring FSF instruments for ground support during ARSF campaigns should apply using the joint ARSF/FSF application available from ARSF.

Application deadlines

1st November: Summer Period Applications - Loans from March to September

1st June: Winter Period Applications - Loans from October to February

IMPORTANT: A separate procedure exists for urgent applications - please contact the FSF Operations Manager for details.

Stage 3: Review process

The running and development of the Facility is overseen by the FSF Steering Committee. This is a panel of six people comprising the Facility Director, a representative of NERC Services and Facilities, and four experts from the UK remote sensing community. Among other things the Steering Committee exist to review applications for use of Facility equipment, to monitor output from the Facility (research, reports, software products), and to provide advice to the Director of NERC Services and Facilies on all aspects of the operation of the Facility. Further information on the Steering Committee is available on the FSF Steering Committee page.

Stage 4: Allocation of Grade

All applications are sent off by the FSF Operations Manager for review by the Steering Committee. The applications are then awarded a grade by the reviewers, with additional consideration given to the views of the reviewer who is an authority in the application's research domain. The grades from each reviewer are collected together and the median grade is assigned, moderated by the Chair and Director of FSF, and are NERC advised of the SCs recommendations. NERC S&F will then advise the principal investigator of the outcome of the application.

The grading system used by the FSF Steering Committee corresponds with the new grading system used by all NERC Services and Facilities. If a grade is awarded, the application is of high scientific merit and is of such novelty and timeliness and promise as to be likely to make a signifiant contribution to the subject.

Grade 10
The proposed work is outstanding and represents world-leading standards in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact. Highest priority for funding.
Grade 9
The proposed work is excellent and represents world-class standards in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact. Very high priority for funding.
Grade 8
The proposed work is very good, contains aspects of excellence, and represents high standards in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact. High priority for funding.
Grade 7
The proposed work is of a good quality, internationally competitive, at the forefront of UK work and has a high level of scientific impact. Should be funded if possible.
Grade 6
The proposed work is of a good quality, on the borderline between nationally and internationally competitive, and has a good level of scientific impact. Potentially fundable*.
Grade 5
The proposed work is of a good quality, has some scientific merit and addresses useful questions, but is not at the leading edge. It is suitable for funding in principle but in a competitive context is not a priority.
Grade 4
The proposed work is of a good quality, has some scientific merit, but has a number of weaknesses. Not recommended for funding.
Grade 3
The proposed work is of a satisfactory quality. It would provide some new knowledge, but fails to provide reasonable evidence and justification for the proposal. Not recommended for funding.
Grade 2
The proposed work is weak in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact, and has only a few strengths. Not suitable for funding.
Grade 1
The proposed work is of an unsatisfactory quality and is unlikely to advance the field. Not suitable for funding.
Grade 0
For special cases, e.g. flawed in scientific approach, subject to serious technical difficulties, does not address operational risks, sufficiently unclearly written that it cannot be properly assessed, success depends on the project student, is duplicative of other research, or not suitable for the scheme.
Potentially exciting and worthy of funding but requiring clarification of specific aspects or minor amendments before a final decision can be made. A Principal Investigator whose application has been rejected may be invited to resubmit if the Committee considers that insufficient information has been supplied for a grade to be given and if there is sufficient potential in the proposal for it to be significantly stronger when reformulated.

In keeping with NERC guidelines, FSF will endeavour support loans which are graded 7 and above, prioritised by grade.

* Grade 6 grades may possibly be supported if their are resources available but only if the project has a PhD studentship attached to it. However, applications will be prioritised by grade.

The FSF Operations Manager will contact you to discuss the steps that can be taken in order to reapply if you receive a R*, should you wish to. It is also possible to apply for a commercial loan of the equipment, where by a daily rate is charged for the equipment. For more information and details of the daily costs of equipment please contact the FSF Operations Manager.

Stage 5: Loan scheduling

Once your application has been approved by the steering committee, the FSF Operations Manager will contact you to arrange your loan. Schedules are often very tight during the Summer months, and so it is always best to make arrangements early in order to avoid disappointment. Schedules are usually fairly flexible, so if your plans change then let the FSF Operations Manager know as soon as possible so that alternative scheduling can be implemented in time. Please note that priority in scheduling is given to the projects with the highest grades.

Stage 6: Training and commencement of loan

We provide fully customised, one-to-one training courses tailored to suit each individual's needs. We also provide refresher courses for those who have not used the equipment for over 18 months, or for users of the equipment who feel that they may have forgotten certain aspects of the techniques involved. Training courses are run in Edinburgh at the FSF Laboratory, where researchers will be shown how to assemble and operate the equipment, as well as given instructions on how to process data that are collected. Users are expected to provide their own transport to Edinburgh for the training sessions. For new users, training usually takes from 10am til 3.30pm and refresher courses typically last 2-3 hours, but this can vary depending on experience and knowledge.

Stage 7: Transport of equipment

It is our policy that users are responsible for organising the transport/shipping/couriering of the equipment from and to Edinburgh, at the start and end of their loan period. The easiest and most secure way is for the equipment to be couriered to your Institution. We are happy to provide advice on transport issues. We would recommend looking at Inter Parcel, they are agents for DHL, UPS and other recognised carriers, and provide extremely competative prices, we have found them to be very good.

It is up to the user to contact the Facility to inform us of the date and time of pick up. The equipment will be available for collection on the first day of the loan. Please contact us first for the dimensions and weights of your shipmment.

If you are taking the equipment abroad we can provide you with the necessary customs documentation, however, the user is entirely responsible for the transport of the equipment. We cannot arrange for the equipment to be shipped overseas directly from Edinburgh, we would expect the equipment to be couriered to your own Institution and then transported from there. When requesting your loan dates, allow enough time for the transport of the equipment.

Stage 8: Technical support during loan

If at any time during or after your loan, you require assistance or advice from FSF regarding any of the equipment, please do not hesitate to contact the FSF Equipment Manager during normal office hours. We can provide comprehensive technical support for all of our instruments, and are always happy to provide advice to users on best practice in spectroradiometry. Full support is also provided (where necessary) to users of FSF data processing software.

Should you encounter a technical malfunction of equipment during your loan, you MUST contact the FSF Equipment Manager immediately. You should not attempt to fix instruments in the event of a malfunction. The Facility has the expertise to perform small repairs, but where optical and computer equipment is concerned, repairs must be performed by the manufacturers in order to ensure that the instrument is not damaged further. In the unlikely event of a instrument failure, the equipment concerned will have to be returned to FSF, where the damage will be assessed, and the relevant action taken.

Stage 9: Completing loan report forms

Instrument performance report. This form will be given to you as part of your loan package, once the loan has finished, the user should complete this form and return it to FSF with the equipment.

Loan report form. This form must be completed and returned to the FSF Operations Manager within 3 months of the loan end date. It provides us with information on the data that was collected and number of days the instrument was used in the field and is very important for our records.

Stage 10: Publications and academic acheivements

Publication is the prime indicator of science supported by FSF and therefore, an important means by which the value of the facility to the scientific community is judged.

All equipment loans should be fully acknowledged in any publicaton or presentation. It is suggested that the following wording or similar be used " ... (user name) .. greatfully acknowledge the loan of equipment to carry out this research from the Natural Environment Research Council Field Spectroscopy Facility".

Where appropriate co-authorship with FSF staff should be sought.

Please keep us updated on your publications (including Ph.D. theses and non referreed publications) which discuss or describe results obtained through the use of FSF equipment. Please send FSF hard copies of all journal articles, conference proceedings, book chapters, posters and other promotional material featuring work performed using FSF equipment.

Complaints Procedure

If you have a complaint relating to the FSF facility please let us know in writing by post, fax or email. Please describe your complaint clearly and tell us what you think we could do to sort things out.

Any problems or complaints should be initially raised with the FSF Operations Manager or the Head of Service (please refer to contacts page for details). The NERC website provides details of the Research Council's complaints procedure. In the event that you wish to contact NERC directly regarding a problem or complaint you should address all correspondence to the superintending officer overseeing the FSF facility.