STSM manual

1)      What is a Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM)

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) are aimed at supporting individual mobility and at strengthening the existing networks and fostering collaborations by allowing scientists to visit an institution or laboratory in another Participating COST Country or an approved  Near Neighbour Country (NNC) institution or an approved International Partner Countries (IPC) institution.

A STSM should specifically contribute to the scientific objectives of the COST Action, while at the same time allowing applicants to learn new techniques or gain access to specific instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions.

2)      Who is eligible to apply for a STSM

STSM applicants must be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow, or be employed by or officially affiliated to an institution or legal entity, which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. This institution is considered as the Home institution.

3)      Prerequisites, criteria and evaluation

The evaluation of STSM applications must avoid any potential conflict of interest. It is performed by the STSM Committee, coordinated by the STSM coordinator and approved by the MC. The STSM Committee will be composed by four committee members (selected from the MC body), which will be elected annually, and the STSM coordinator.

The selection of applicants is based on the scientific scope of the STSM application that must be in line with the Action objectives. Necessary geographical and gender balance issues are to be taken into consideration and applications from Early Career Investigator (ECI) should be privileged

The evaluation criteria, values and weights are depicted in the table, below:









Relevance of STSM with action objectives





Relevance of host institute's expertise with STSM objectives





Results directly exploitable by action










Applicant is ECI or PhD candidate





There are no previous STSM by same applicant





There are no other STSMs from same country






min (100%)

intermediate proportion A%

max (0%)


Proportion of STSMs till now with same gender





Proportion of lowest requested budget of all STSMs for the period over applicant's requested budget

=(min budget/applicant's budget)*10



The above criteria approved by the MC should be communicated in advance to all potential applicants. 

During an STSM neither the MC, nor the COST Office nor the Grant Holder may be considered as an employer. Grantees must make their own arrangements for all health, social, personal security and pension matters. 

STSMs need to take place according to a set of rules, which vary for  ECI as specific provisions had been adopted by the Cost Scientific Officer (CSO) to foster the participation of ECI:

Standard STSMs

ECI STSMs (extended)

minimum duration of 5 days

minimum duration of 91 days

maximum duration of 90 days

maximum duration of 180 days

Needs to be carried out in their entirety within a single grant period

Needs to be carried out in their entirety within a single grant period

Needs to be carried out within the Action’s lifetime

Needs to be carried out within the Action’s lifetime

  Home and Host Institutions

 Institutions may be public or private entities. Possible STSM scenarios are: 

Home Institution

Host Institution

Financial supporting organization

From a Participating COST Country

To another Participating COST Country

COST Action


To an approved NNC institution

COST Action


To an approved IPC institution

COST Action


To an approved Specific  Organisations,(EC and EU Agencies, European RTD Organisations, International Organisations)

COST Action

From an approved NNC institution

To a Participating COST Country

COST Action

From an approved European RTD Organisation

To a Participating COST Country

COST Action


4)      Financial support

A STSM grant is a fixed contribution based on the budget requested by the applicant and the evaluation of the application by the STSM Committee and the approval of the MC. The aim of this grant is to support the costs associated with the exchange visit. This grant will not necessarily cover all expenses; it is intended only as a contribution to the travel and subsistence costs of the participant. 

The calculation of this contribution for a STSM must be based on the following rules:



Standard STSMs

ECI STSMs (extended)


Maximum reimbursement rate per day for accommodation and meal expenses

160 €

160 €


Maximum amount to be afforded to the grantee

2,500 €

3,500 €



5)      The steps to be followed STSMs initiation

STSMs will be initiated in two ways:

a)      Based on the action’s regular STSM calls, which will be published twice per year as follows:

Call on-air

STSM period

January 2015

1/3/2015 – 30/6/2015

April 2015

1/7/2015 – 31/12/2015

November 2015

1/1/2016 – 30/6/2016

April 2016

1/7/2016 – 31/12/2016

November 2016

1/1/2017 – 30/6/2017

April 2017

1/8/2017 – 31/12/2017

November 2017

1/1/2018 – 30/6/2018


Each call will be aired for two weeks[1] and two weeks later, the evaluation results will be communicated to the applicants. The number of available STSMs will be decided for each period by the STSM Committee, based on the available budget for this activity.

b)      Specific STSM proposal submission, which will be open. Such applications will be evaluated in two weeks after their submission and the evaluation outcome will be communicated to the applicants. In particular to STSM applications not responding to a specific call, approval is subject to the estimated remaining budget for STSMs resulting of the call process for the same period.

Through the action’s web page, a designated web area will be provided for interested parties to express their intention to undertake or to host an STSM, to enable and facilitate interactions. In particular, candidate applicants will state their topic of interest, time period and desired host institution (optional) and candidate host institutions will propose areas of research and time period.

Before the STSM

i) In order to receive a STSM grant, the applicant must:

·         Obtain an invitation letter from the host institution, before submitting an application;

·         Complete the online application form (see;

·         Send the completed file as e-mail attachment together with the necessary supporting documents (CV, recent and current research, list of publications, motivation letter, relevance with action objectives, anticipated work plan, expected results, invitation letter from the host institution and any other supporting documents) to the MC Chair or the STSM coordinator, keeping the STSM host institution in copy. 

ii) For STSM approval:

·         The STSM Committee will perform the scientific and budgetary assessment of the applications considering the Action objectives, define an acceptable funding level, and if eligible and feasible, the MC will approve the STSM;

·         The Grant Holder (having acknowledged the approval) will send a Grant Letter specifying the amount granted for the STSM. 

After the STSM

i) The grantee is required to submit a short scientific report (main text of 3-5 pages with any attachments necessary) to the STSM coordinator for approval by the STSM Committee and subsequently by the MC within 30 days after the end date of the STSM keeping the STSM host institution in copy. This will include (but not restricted to): 

·         Purpose and objectives of the STSM.

·         Description of the work carried out during the STSM.

·         Description of the main results obtained, stating the degree of reaching the objectives, possible impacts achieved or expected; any significant scientific breakthroughs as part of the STSM; additional knowledge obtained from working with other disciplines; assessing the level of inter-disciplinarity of the STSM as potentially providing scientific impacts.

·         Briefing of any problems that may have appeared and means for alleviation.

·         Future collaboration with the host institution (if applicable).

·         Foreseen publications/articles or new research proposals/projects that will be prepared as a result of the STSM (if applicable).

·         Letter by the host institution confirming of the successful execution of the STSM.

·         Actual results that may be used directly by the COST action (beyond the 2-5 pages, e.g. to be included in the action’s deliverables).

·         Other comments (if any). 

Failure to submit the scientific report within 30 days will effectively cancel the grant.

ii) The STSM Committee, followed by the MC is responsible for approving the scientific report and informing the Grant Holder that the STSM has been successfully accomplished.

iii) After receipt of the approval by email, the Grant Holder will execute the payment of the grant. 

iv)The grantee will prepare a presentation (in ppt or other) to be given in the next action meeting, stating all the contents of the short scientific report, summarizing the scope and outcomes of the STSM in terms of scientific breakthroughs, impacts and future actions.


[1]Especially for the 1st call, it will be aired for 3 weeks, owing to the particularity of the time of the year.



Based on and using text from COST H2020 Vademecum