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Cycle 7 Supplemental Call for ACA Stand-alone Proposals

In Cycle 7, ALMA will offer an ACA stand-alone Supplemental Call for Proposals. It is anticipated that the Supplemental Call will be released on 3 September 2019 with a proposal deadline on 1 October 2019. Since the Supplemental Call will follow the Main Call by five months, the Supplemental Call will maximize the scientific output of the ACA by allowing more timely science to be proposed. Proposals accepted in the Supplemental Call will be scheduled for observations between January 2020 and September 2020.

Capabilities and Time Available

The Supplemental Call will be open to Regular Proposals (i.e., no Large Programs) without time constraints that propose to use standard observing modes, as allowed for ACA stand-alone proposals in the Main Call. Proposals may request to use the 7-­m array only or the 7­-m array plus Total Power array. At least 750 hours will be offered in the Supplemental Call.


Anticipated Timeline (all dates subject to change)

December 19, 2018 Cycle 7 Pre-Announcement (Main Call and Supplemental Call)
September 3, 2019

Call for Proposals and Supplemental Call submission server opened

October 1, 2019 Deadline to submit Supplemental Call proposals
October 15, 2019 Proposals released to reviewers
October 22, 2019 Deadline for reviewer to report conflicts of interest on proposal review assignments
November 12, 2019 Deadline to submit reviews and ranks
Early December 2019 Notification emails sent to PIs

January 2020

Successful Supplemental Call proposals enter the observing queue



Proposals accepted in the Cycle 7 Supplemental Call will receive priority Grade “C” and will have lower priority than ACA proposals accepted in the Cycle 7 Main Call. Users should note that proposals accepted in the Main Call that request the ACA (either in stand-alone mode or in combination with the 12­m array) will only be eligible for Grades “A” and “B”.

Peer Review Process

Proposals submitted in the Supplemental Call will be peer reviewed using a distributed system in which each proposal team selects a designated reviewer to participate in the review process. The designated reviewer may be the PI of the proposal or one of the co­-Is.

Each designated reviewer will be responsible for reviewing ten proposals submitted in the Supplemental Call. Each submitted proposal will be ranked by ten reviewers, and the final ordered list of proposals will be determined by an average of the ten reviewers’ rankings. If a designated reviewer does not submit their reviews and ranks by the review deadline, the proposal for which they were identified as the reviewer will be rejected.

Tools for Cycle 7 Supplemental Call

PIs interested in submitting a proposal will need an up­to­date version of the Cycle 7 Observing Tool (the “OT”), and designated reviewers will need the Cycle 7 Supplemental Call Reviewer Tool. The tools and associated documentation will be made available on this page.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. If my ACA proposal is not accepted in the Cycle 7 Main Call, can I submit the same proposal to the Cycle 7 Supplemental Call?

Yes. PIs will be able to update their proposals based on comments received from the Cycle 7 review panels before submitting to the Supplemental Call.

2. What is distributed peer review?

Distributed peer review is a process in which users who submit proposals also commit to reviewing the other proposals. Therefore, the best proposals are still selected by peer review, but instead of having a small committee review a large number of proposals, a large number of people each review a small number of proposals. In this way, the review load is distributed among many peers, and any individual reviewer will have a lower workload and more time to spend reviewing each assigned proposal.

3. How will the Cycle 7 Supplemental Call distributed peer review process work?

At proposal submission, the PI must designate someone from the proposal team to be the reviewer. Normally the PI will be the designated reviewer, but the PI may also designate a co­investigator, as described in the following frequently-­asked­-questions. After the proposal deadline, the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) will assign ten proposals to each designated reviewer. If reviewers have a conflict of interest with any of their assigned proposals, they can request a replacement proposal through the Reviewer Tool. The reviewer will then rank the ten proposals (1-­10) and write a brief review of each one. The ranks from all reviewers of each submitted proposal will be averaged to produce a global ranked list of proposals, which will be used to produce the observing queue.

4. Who can I designate to be the reviewer for my submitted proposal?

Any PI and most co­-investigators on the proposal can be designated as the reviewer. If the PI does not have a PhD at the time of proposal submission (e.g., a student), the PI can still be the reviewer, but a mentor (who must have a PhD) must be identified at the time of the proposal submission through the Observing Tool (OT). If the PI designates a co­investigator as the reviewer, the co­investigator must have a PhD in astronomy or a closely related field.

5. Can a student (without a PhD) be a designated reviewer?

A student can be the designated reviewer if s/he is the PI of the proposal and also designates a mentor, who must have a PhD in astronomy or a closely related field. The mentor must be identified when the proposal is submitted. The mentor does not have to be a co­-investigator on the student’s proposal. A student co­-investigator is not eligible to be a designated reviewer.

6. What is the role of a mentor?

A mentor should provide guidance as needed to a student reviewer during the process, but there are no formal requirements. The mentor must abide by the same confidentiality requirements as the student reviewer.

7. Who will see my proposal?

Each proposal will be sent to ten reviewers. In cases with student reviewers, the corresponding mentors may also see your proposal.

8. What if I am the PI of several proposals to the Supplemental Call? Will I have to review proposals for each of my submitted proposals?

A PI will need to designate a reviewer for each submitted proposal. The designated reviewer can be the PI or another co­-investigator. If you have several submitted proposals as PI, you do not have to be the designated reviewer on all (or any) of them.

9. What if I do not submit my ranks and reviews by the review deadline?

If a designated reviewer does not submit his/her reviews before the review deadline, the proposal for which they were identified as a reviewer will be rejected. It is imperative that the reviews are submitted by this deadline since the proposal ranks will be computed and observing queue built immediately following the deadline.

10. Will my proposal really be rejected if I don’t submit all of my reviews on time?


11. How are conflicts of interest determined in the Supplemental Call?

Conflicts of interest will be defined using a similar process as in the Main Call. In addition, reviewers will be able to declare additional conflicts on their assigned proposals and have such conflicted assignments replaced with other proposals.

12. Will the author lists be randomized in the Supplemental Call peer review process?

Starting with the Cycle 7 Main Call, ALMA will utilize a randomized investigator list during the peer review process to reduce potential sources of bias. The Cycle 7 Supplemental Call will use the same randomization as the Main Call during the peer review process.

13. How will the accepted proposals be determined?

As in the Main Call, the process to determine which proposals are accepted involves creating a ranked list of all proposals; in the Cycle 7 Supplemental Call, this list is generated using the average rankings for each proposal. The JAO will then use the global ranked list, the time available per receiver band and LST, and regional balance across the ALMA regions to determine which proposals fit within the observe queue (with priority Grade “C”).

14. As a PI, how will I receive feedback on my submitted proposal?

After the JAO determines which proposals fit within the time available, PIs will be sent their priority grade as well as the proposal ranks and reviews, verbatim, from each designated reviewer. The reviewer names will remain anonymous.

15. How will reviews be assigned to reviewers?

The scientific category of the submitted proposal will be used to determine the review assignments for each reviewer. If there are not enough submitted proposals in that category without conflicts, assignments from similar categories (i.e., Category 1 and 2, or Category 3 and 4) may also be used.

16. As a reviewer, how will I receive information about the review process?

General questions about the process can be submitted to the ALMA Helpdesk, but once the review process starts, all official communication between the JAO and the reviewer will be done through the reviewer's email address that is registered in her/his ALMA account. As a result, for smooth communication during the review process, it is crucial that the information in your ALMA account (email address, institution, etc.) is up to date and that emails from the JAO are not ending up in your SPAM folder.

17. Are other observatories using distributed peer review systems?

Yes: Gemini’s Fast Turnaround proposal system uses distributed peer review ( ) and ESO initiated a pilot program in 2018 ( ), which received a very positive response from the community ( ).

18. Why is ALMA using distributed peer review instead of the traditional panels to review the Supplemental Call?

ALMA would not be able to offer a Supplemental Call using a panel-­based review model since it would require considerable resources from the JAO as well as the community. Distributed peer review provides a viable means to retain the benefits of peer review while maximizing the opportunity for the community to use the ACA.

19. Will ALMA continue to have Supplemental Calls?

ALMA will monitor the proposal pressure on the ACA in the Main Call to determine if a Supplemental Call will be needed in future Cycles.

20. Will ALMA continue to use distributed peer review?

The Cycle 7 Supplemental Call represents a pilot program for distributed peer review in ALMA, and we plan to learn from the experience and gather feedback from the community before considering using the system in future cycles.

21. I have a question about the process that is not covered here. What should I do?

Contact the Helpdesk and specify the Proposal Handling department. Maybe your question will end up on the FAQ!