Frequently Asked Questions
COST – European Cooperation in Science and Technology – is one of the longest-running European instruments supporting cooperation among scientists and researchers across Europe. COST is also the first and widest European intergovernmental network for coordination of nationally funded research activities.
COST’s mission is to strengthen Europe in scientific and technical research through the support of European cooperation and interaction between European Researchers. It also aims to maximise European Synergy and added value in non-competitive and pre-normative research. COST enables scientists to collaborate in a wide spectrum of activities grouped under nine key scientific Domains.
COST provides financial support for cooperation efforts of scientific groups across Europe and the coordination of these research networks called “Actions”. The support will cover the costs of networking activities such as meetings (e.g. travel, subsistence, local organiser support), conferences, workshops, short-term scientific exchanges, training schools, publications and dissemination activities. COST does not fund the research itself.
The Council Decision of 19 December 2006 concerning the Specific Programme "Cooperation" implementing the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2013) (2006/971/EC) sets aside a minimum of EUR 210 million in Annex II and up to EUR 250 million for COST, subject to a mid term evaluation.
The mid term evaluation 2010 did recommend to the European Commission that ‘the appropriate process be put in place to allocate the additional EUR 40 million reserved in FP7 for COST’.
In April 2011, the European Commission communicated the release of EUR 30 million to COST and in February 2012, it communicated the release of EUR 10 million which had been pending budget availability.
The additional funding raises the total budget for COST to 250 million for FP7.
Short answer: From the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme.
In more detail: The Council Decision of 19 December 2006 concerning the Specific Programme "Cooperation" implementing the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2013) (2006/971/EC) sets aside a minimum of EUR 210 million in Annex II.
Only the institutions of the 36 COST countries can propose an Action. For this:
I/ For institutions of the 36 COST Countries:
a) If your country has already accepted the Action's Memorandum of Understanding, but has not yet nominated its representatives:
- contact your COST National Coordinator (CNC) who can officially nominate you as a representative of your country to the MC committee.
- It is also recommended that you inform the Chair of the Action of your interest.
b) If your country has not yet accepted the Action's Memorandum of Understanding:
- Contact your COST National Coordinator (CNC) who will launch your country's participation in the relevant Action (only possible if national funding for the Actions’ activity is available). Once done, the CNC can officially nominate you as a representative of your country to the MC committee. It is also recommended that you inform the Chair of the Action of your interest.
II/ For institutions of non-COST Countries
COST encourages institutions from non-COST countries to participate in COST Actions following the bottom-up principle and if the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) believes it to be of mutual benefit. The CSO approves on a case-by-case basis.
In general, researchers from non-COST countries institutions do not receive economic support from COST.
For the near neighbour countries up to two researchers from each country may be reimbursed for attending COST Actions meetings. Moreover, researchers from these countries are eligible to participate in other activities decided at the level of individual Actions (such as meetings, short-term scientific missions, training schools and conferences).
In addition, COST set up reciprocal agreements with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina. The financial contribution provided by COST for a European scientist travelling to such a country is a fixed grant of up to EUR 3 000 per visit for Australia and New Zealand and up to EUR 2 500 for Argentina and South Africa.
You will find all coordinators on National Coordinator section of the Who's Who. If you are looking for the Coordinator of a particular country, you may find the country pages useful as well. You just select the country of your choice and find all the information including a map.
How can I participate as an “invited expert” to specific events of an Action (meetings of the MC, WG, workshop participation etc.)?
Proposals are only submitted via a dedicated online form which you can access only after registering for an account. The link can be found on the Open Call page.
Please note that e-mails or other files (e.g. PDF, Word) and formats will be discarded.
Preliminary Proposal: You submit your proposal by clicking the submit button. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to you. You can re-submit before the collection date announced on the Open Call page. Only the last submission is taken into account.
Full Proposal: The last submission saved before the deadline is considered for further evaluation. No confirmation e-mail will be sent to you. Instead the status 'submitted' will appear on top of your proposal page.
This could be due to the following:
- make sure you have the correct entry point.
- make sure that you do not add a blank space before or after your username or password.
- cookies are not enabled on your computer. Please enable cookies or contact your IT responsible.
- make sure you use the latest Browser version or try a different one (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, ...)
COST operates a continuous Open Call, with periodic Collection Dates. Details of the next Collection Date and access to the online system through which proposals must be submitted can be found on the COST Open Call page.
Not recommended. You need to decide who would Chair the Action. The applicant is normally elected Chair but you could put forward the one of the other applications as vice-Chair. This setup will be confirmed by the management committee at its first meeting.
- Contact your national representatives to familiarise yourself with COST.
- Read up on running Actions, you may want to join an existing Action rather than create your own or run the risk that your proposal is rejected because an Action on the same topic exists.
- Read the Guidelines for Assessment of applications for COST Actions (COST doc. 4111/11) that can be found on the right-hand side of the Open Call page.
- Collect relevant (supporting) documents and work on finding partners for your proposal.
- Think of a possible grant holder already at this stage.
COST networks 'nationally-funded research' but I am funded by a charity/a devolved administration. Can I still apply for COST funding?
Yes. By “Nationally-funded” you should understand 'domestically'-funded, i.e. below EU level The funding can therefore come from devolved or local government, research organisations, charities, industry, even the Church.
No. Selection is by a process of anonymous peer review, therefore writing to the COST Office or asking national representatives to lobby on your behalf will have no effect.
The evaluation process is the same for all 9 scientific domains and the trans-domain proposals; takes approximately 9 months from the collection date to the final approval and is described in detail in the Guidelines for Assessment of applications for COST Actions (COST doc. 4111/11) on the Open Call page.
A quick summary:
- Are checked against eligibility criteria by the COST Office;
- Eligible proposals are assessed by the relevant Domain Committee or the TDP-SAB;
- Around 80 top-ranked proposers are asked to submit a Full Proposal
- Are evaluated by an External Expert Panel (EEP) online (max. 8 experts invited to review proposals based on their expertise and knowledge of the topic at hand);
- The EEP meets with the relevant DC Chair to decide on the final proposals to be invited for a DC Hearing;
- Approximately 75% of the full proposals are presented at a DC hearing after which a final top priority ranking is made by each Domain.
Final list of proposals to be approved: The COST Office handles the process from now on:
The Guidelines for Assessment of applications for COST Actions (COST doc. 4111/11) lists the assessment criteria (Annex A, page 10). It is therefore vital you study these and try to make sure your application would get at least a total of 26/36, since the overall threshold is 70%.The document is available on the right-hand side of the 'Open Call' page, in the 'Key Documents' box.
In a dedicated part called 'participants interested in network'. Please only mention names of participating researchers, institutions or countries in this section and not in the text of the proposal. This to guarantee the anonymity of the proposer and avoid any conflict of interest during the assessment process.
Preliminary Proposal: You can briefly highlight non-COST participation in the text of the proposal itself since the list of participants is limited to COST countries.
Full Proposal: In the part dedicated to non-COST country participation.
The glossary explains what a non-COST country is.
Preliminary Proposal: A short general bibliography - not disclosing names of participants (rule of anonymity) - should be placed in the text in round brackets ( ).
Full Proposal: A full bibliography can be added to Part II Additional Information.
You cannot add photos or graphs to the forms.
Preliminary Proposals: only text is allowed.
Full Proposals: text and tables are allowed.
Preliminary Proposal: Each section has a maximum limit to the number of characters allowed including blanks. A counter shows how many characters including blanks you have left. If you go beyond the limit, the text will be discarded.
Full Proposal: Each section has a recommended size limit. Text will not be discarded if you go beyond the recommended limit.
No, you do not.
The language must be written in English. Since the proposal will not be translated into any other languages and peer reviewers come from different countries, you are strongly advised to have the text checked for correctness and clarity. In addition, we have the following style tips:
- Do not copy and paste from other proposals you have written.
- Try to avoid using buzz words or jargon.
- Try to make your proposal interesting to read, also by non-experts.
Some of the sections laid down in the guidelines are repetitive - can I cross-reference, or must I repeat them?
The most important thing is clarity. You can use cross references rather than repetitions if that makes the content clearer and more consistent. On the other hand, don’t forget that too many cross-references may obscure your argument. Remember: the assessors have limited time. They might be annoyed by frequent redundancies, as well as by an excessive amount of cross-references. It is in your best interest to ease the assessor’s job.
In the 'Participate' section of this website in general. In particular the 'COST Vademecum' and the 'Rules and Proceedings for implementing COST Actions' are available for download on the right-hand side of the 'COST Networking Tools' page.
A successful proposal:
- clearly spells out the scientific issue and its proposed impact;
- thinks about how to involve interdisciplinary competences;
- does not confuse a COST Action with an FP7 proposal;
- explains the state-of-the-art scientifically and with a view to the networking aspect
- has concrete plans for gender balance; involvement of young researchers or dissemination activities.
Proposals receiving low marks often:
- appear to do no more than perpetuate existing structures;
- do not involve countries that have a good reputation in the field;
- propose a non-standard management structure (i.e. other than a Management Committee (MC) meeting twice a year, with up to four working groups (WGs) also meeting twice a year);
- suggest that the proposer does not understand what COST is or how it works;
- were last minute submissions.
Will my name and institution's details be made visible when my proposal is assessed? Or when my proposal was not successful?
No, the assessment is anonymous and COST has a strict rule of anonymity.
Will I get feedback on my proposal if it is not successful? Will I get guidance on how to improve it for next time?
You will receive the marks obtained for all categories and the assessors’ comments (please note that these comments are not used for the final ranking and are considered as feedback to the applicant only).
Will my proposal be made public anywhere if it is not selected? I would not want anyone to steal my ideas.
No, but for archiving purposes it will be kept in the database of the COST Office.
If I am not successful, can I re-apply? Can I submit for another collection date with my previous credentials?
You can resubmit an adapted proposal but you must register for a new login. Please also ensure that you specify that the proposal is a re-submission (by selecting the appropriate check box).
If you want to submit a different proposal for another collection date, you also have to register for a new login. Basically, accounts are linked to a specific collection date.
COST is currently establishing a country, gender and age-balanced expert pool and invites independent experts from all scientific areas to express their interest. More information is available on the COST Experts page where you can find the link to the Expert registration page as well.
COST Experts are contacted on an ad hoc basis depending on the evaluations being coordinated by the COST Office at any given time. Experts will be able to accept or decline each individual offer to collaborate. As a consequence, how much time a COST Expert devotes to COST depends on the tasks accepted by the Expert.
The most frequent task is the evaluation of proposals for new COST Actions. COST runs two Open Call per year with deadlines at the end of March and at the end of September. Each Proposal takes about two to three hours to evaluate and, in general, an Expert will be asked to evaluate one to two proposals remotely. As part of the proposal evaluation, an Expert may also be invited to an Expert Evaluation Panel, which is a meeting that lasts two days and takes place in Brussels. Experts who collaborate with COST for the first time will need to read the guidelines governing the evaluation and assessment processes.
In addition, Experts may be contacted to take part in COST Action Final Assessment Panels, which may involve travel and typically one to two 2 days onsite. In these cases, the COST Office will provide further details when proposing the task.
Both COST DC Experts and COST Experts support the COST Domain Committees in their evaluation tasks, by providing specific expertise that may not be present among Domain Committee Members. COST DC Experts are nominated by the COST National Coordinators.
COST Experts register directly on the COST Expert database.
Within the new TDP Pilot Action Selection procedure, COST Experts also carry out the evaluation needed for the first step and may be contacted to support the subsequent steps should their expertise be required in evaluation panels.
e-COST is COST’s online technology platform. Mainly targeting the scientific community, it consists of several modules that serve different purposes depending on the user's assigned access rights. Registered users log in and have access to - for example - the online travel reimbursement tool, the expert database, the COST Grant Management System or the modules related to COST Action Monitoring and Reporting.
You need an e-COST user profile if you are asked to create one by COST Office staff or if you need to be reimbursed by COST. To register as a new e-COST user, click the e-COST button on the top right hand side of this page, scroll down to 'New to e-COST?' and click 'Register a new e-COST profile'. Note: You do not need an e-COST profile if you wish to apply for the Open Call which has a separate online tool.
How do I file a travel reimbursement request? I attended a COST (Action) meeting and was asked to encode my expenses related to travel and accommodation. How do I go about this?
Your question relates to the submission of what we call the Online Travel Reimbursement Request (OTRR). The first step is to create an e-COST user profile if you do not already have one. The second step is to log in and fill in the OTRR online. The form does give you some guidance on how to fill it in.
In addition, on 19 September 2012, the COST Office released a Memo to COST Action members which contains a step-by-step guide for your submission. You can download the Travel Reimbursement Instructions to get acquainted with the system.
They are both calendar file types that allow you to store the event in your Calendar (e.g. iCal (.ics) for Mac or vCalendar (.vcs) in Outlook 2010 for Windows). Both files contain the same information. Please note that you may have to update the calendar information manually. This depends on the software you use. For example, we are aware of a Microsoft Office bug in Outlook 2003 that requires you to adjust the .vcs file slightly once uploaded.
You can use any of the buttons on the home page, the search function in the top right corner of this screen or the Sitemap.
If you know COST well, you may find the following redirects useful too:
- www.cost.eu/bmbs (replace bmbs with the other Domain abbreviations (cmst, essem, fa, fps, isch, ict, mpns, tud) as needed)
A cookie is a small text file which is sent to your computer or mobile device (referred to in this policy as a "device”) by the web server so that the website can remember some information about your browsing activity on the website.
The cookie will collect information relating to your use of our site, the URL of the linking page and if you arrived at our site via a link from a third party site. It also collects information about your device such as the device’s Internet Protocol (IP) address and browser type and demographic data. If you are a registered user or subscriber it may also collect your name and e-mail address, which may be transferred to data processors for registered user or subscriber verification purposes.
Cookies record information about your online preferences and help us to tailor the COST Website to your interests. Information provided by cookies can help us to analyse your use of our site and help us to provide you with a better user experience.
Cookies are either ‘session’ or ‘persistent’ cookies, depending on how long they are stored for:
- Session cookies are only stored for the duration of your visit to a website and are deleted from your device when you close your browser;
- Persistent cookies are saved on your device for a fixed period of time after the browser has closed and are activated each time you visit the website where the cookie was generated.
We use two different kinds of cookies on the COST Website to ensure that we give you the best user experience possible.
- First party cookies: these are our own cookies, controlled by the COST Website and used to provide information about usage of the site.
- Third party cookies: these are cookies found in other companies’ internet tools which we are using to enhance our site which are controlled by them. We use Google Analytics as a means to measure users’ behaviour to better develop the COST Website. By using web analytics services provided by Google Analytics we can analyse which pages are viewed and how long for and which links are followed, and we can use this information to provide more content which is of interest.
These pieces of information are used to improve services for you through, for example:
- enabling a service to recognise your device so you don’t have to give the same information several times during one task
- enabling a service to allow you to 'pin' articles you find of interest onto your own virtual pin board on the COST site
- recognising that you may already have given a username and password so you don’t need to do it for every web page requested
- measuring how many people are using services, so they can be made easier to use and that there is enough capacity to ensure that they are fast
How to opt out
If you would prefer to opt out of cookies, it is possible to control cookies by following the steps below. You may lose some of the features and functionality of the website mentioned above if you do so.
Cookies, including those which have already been set, can be deleted from your hard drive. You can also change the preferences/settings in your web browser to control cookies.
Deleting or blocking cookies may reduce functionality of the site.
To learn more about how to reject cookies, go to the help menu within your internet browser. If you experience any problems having deleted cookies, you should contact the supplier of your web browser.
To opt out of analytical performance cookies please visit this site: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout
To find about more about cookies, this website is quite useful as well.
If you want to recommend a specific page of the COST website, you visit the page of your choice and click the recommend button in the top right corner of your screen. Just fill in the form that appears and click send.
You can only send the link to one page per recommendation.
If you wish to store a specific page of the COST website to read later, you visit the page of your choice and click the pin button in the top right corner of your screen. Then press 'pin this page' in the middle of the page.
You can pin as many pages as you wish, one page per time. Your selection will be stored on your personal pinboard for the next 30 days.
You must have cookies enabled to use this feature and make sure that your browser does not clear cookies when you close it. Your pinboard is only displayed in the browser and on the computer you used to "pin".
Depending on the source, RSS is described as Really Simple Syndication (most popular), Rich Site Summary or RDF Site summary. RSS is an application of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and is a format for syndicating news.
RSS-news items can be read via a newsreader. Newsreaders display information feeds from your chosen websites on your computer, they warn you when a new item is put online and enable you to read the item without actually having to visit the website. Many high profile news and information providers (e.g. BBC, Reuters and Yahoo) and several national newspapers offer this service.
Well-known readers are Sharpreader, Feedreader, Newzcrawler, RSSreader and Rocketreader. Macintosh-users can use readers such as Newsfire, NetNewswire, Netvibes and PulpFiction. RSS-readers are often available for free and are either installed as a separate computer programme or as an integrated plug-in to your e-mail programme (e.g. Newsgator) or internet browser (e.g. Pluck). Internet browsers Internet Explorer 7, Firefox and Safari 2.0 support RSS as well.
The COST Website has variable text size enabled for vision impairment compliance so you can adapt the font size in your browser settings. As an indication, the site has been designed with a "Medium" font size.
In Internet Explorer, go to the "View" menu and change your choice in "Text Size". In Mozilla Firefox, go to the “View” menu and change your choice in “Zoom”.
To be able to read Portable Document Format (PDF) files, you will have to download the free Adobe Reader and install it on your computer.
Zip files are single files that contain one or more compressed files. Zip files compress data thus saving disk space and download time. To be able to uncompress .Zip files, you will have to install e.g. WinZip on your computer. Windows XP also supports .Zip files.
The ESF was established in 1974 to coordinate collaboration in research, networking, funding of international research programmes, and strategic and science policy activities at a European level. ESF is a bottom-up organisation, independent of national political decision making bodies and of the European Commission. The Member Organisations of ESF are at present 79 public national funding agencies of fundamental research, research performing organisations, academies, and learned societies.
This makes it easier to identify where the communication originates from while pointing out the cooperation between both organisations at the same time.
What does the sentence ‘ESF provides the COST Office through a European Commission contract’ on your website mean? What does ‘implementing agent for COST’ mean?
The COST Committee of Senior Officials is the main decision-making body and formulates the general strategy for COST. The CSO does not have the legal personality which would allow it to receive a contract from the European Commission and to manage the COST Office which is responsible for implementing the CSO decisions.
To that end, the ESF acts as the legal entity to provide and manage the COST Office in Brussels through a specific contract with the European Commission.
The COST Committee of Senior Officials decides upon its implementing agent. The CSO decision was communicated to the European Commission via the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. The European Commission then signed a contract with the ESF, acting as implementing agent of COST. The COST structure page contains more detailed information.
When will ESF end its period as implementing agent for COST? When will COST and the European Science Foundation separate?
The current contract between the European Science Foundation and the European Commission runs until 1 June 2014, which is the end date of FP7. The CSO decided at its 178th meeting on 25 and 26 May in Riga, Latvia, to invite the ESF to remain implementing agent until the end of FP7.
The ESF Governing Council confirmed its commitment to remain implementing agent for COST until June 2014 at its meeting of the Governing Council on 29 and 30 September 2010.
For an update on the ESF’s structural discussions, please visit the ESF website. Since the ESF’s continuation as implementing agent for COST for the duration of FP7 has been confirmed by both parties, the ongoing debate in ESF does not concern COST at the moment.
Should circumstances change, however, the CSO can choose a new implementing agent.
Currently, no decision on the implementing agent beyond June 2014 has been taken.