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2023 Proposal Writing School

On four Mondays: 20 February - 20 March 2023


This on-line school is an introductory-level overview of the proposal writing process with a focus on ORP-supported facilities and infrastructures. It will take place on four Mondays during the time period February 20 - March 20.

The school will include an introduction to how proposals are reviewed by Time Allocation Committees (TACs), unconscious bias in proposal review and the (double-)blind proposal review system. The students will take part in group work that involves forming mini-TACs to review a set of professionally written proposals to gain experience on the process. There will also be sessions on building a science and technical case for their own proposals, with expert advice from tutors on what to do and avoid when writing an observing proposal. The students will take the information obtained from attending the school to write their own observing proposal, which will receive feedback from the expert tutors on how it could be improved.

The school is primarily meant for PhD students in astronomy, who want to gain more experience in writing observing time proposals. However, students/astronomers at any stage of the career are very welcome to apply to the school.

If you are interested in the whole proposal writing process, and learning how TACs work and how to write your own proposals, this school is perfect for you.


Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser

How to Apply

The deadline for applications was Friday 27 January 2023. The applicants will be notified about the selection in early February.

Preliminary Programme

All times are in CET

Monday February 20

How are proposal reviewed
12:45 - 13:00 Testing zoom
13:00 - 13:05 Welcome (McKean/Korhonen)
13:05 - 14:00 Overview of TAC process (Patat)
14:00 - 14:45 Unconscious bias (Azcarate)
14:45 - 15:15 Break
15:15 - 16:00 Anonymous/Dual Anonymous Proposal Review (Macias)
16:00 - 16:45 Perspectives from the TAC (Morganti)
16:45 - 17:00 Brief introductions (All)

Monday February 27

How to write a good proposal
12:45 - 13:00 Testing zoom
13:00 - 13:20 Student introductions
13:20 - 14:20 Building a science case (Birkby)
14:20 - 14:40 Do’s and Don’ts Discussion (McKean/Korhonen)
14:40 - 15:00 Break
15:00 - 15:40 Developing a technical case - optical/infra-red (Poretti)
15:40 - 16:20 Developing a technical case - radio/sub-mm (Marcote)
16:20 - 16:40 Do’s and Don’ts Discussion (McKean/Korhonen)
16:40 - 17:00 TAC groups and distributing proposals (McKean/Korhonen)

Monday March 6

TAC day
12:45 - 13:00 Testing zoom
13:00 - 13:15 Tutor introductions and overview of TAC Meetings (tutors/McKean/Korhonen)
13:15 - 14:40 TAC Meeting - review (in groups)
14:40 - 15:00 Break
15:00 - 15:30 TAC Meeting - ranking (in groups)
15:30 - 16:00 Overview of feedback (McKean/Korhonen)
16:00 - 16:45 Prepare feedback (in groups)
16:45 - 17:00 Submit TAC results and Feedback

Monday March 20

Proposal feedback
13:00 - 14:30 Feedback on student proposals
14:30 - 15:00 Break
15:00 - 16:00 Discussion on TAC results (McKean/Korhonen)
16:00 - 17:00 Final question / answer session (McKean/Korhonen)


Johan Fynbo (Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark)
Heidi Korhonen (ESO; Co-Chair)
John McKean (ASTRON, the Netherlands; Co-Chair)
Raffaella Morganti (ASTRON, the Netherlands)
Annelies Mortier (Uni. Birmingham, the UK)
Kazi Rygl (INAF, ALMA ARC, Italy)


Gemma Busquet (University of Barcelona, Spain)
Joe Callingham (ASTRON, the Netherlands)
Robert De Rosa (ESO)
Camilla Juul Hansen (Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)
Francesca Panessa (INAF IAPS Rome, Italy)


Camilo Azcarate (ESO)
Jayne Birkby (University of Oxford, UK)
Enrique Macias (ESO/ALMA)
Benito Marcote (JIV-ERIC)
Raffaella Morganti (ASTRON, the Netherlands)
Nando Patat (ESO)
Ennio Poretti (INAF Brera, Italy)

Contact: send a message to the main organiser.