Managing user access for large initiatives or facilities

Managing user access is critical for large initiatives or facilities that attract users from various fields and from all over the world. It helps…

Managing user access is critical for large initiatives or facilities that attract users from various fields and from all over the world. It helps ensure that the facility is used adequately, effectively and efficiently.

Managing user access will differ depending on the size and nature of the initiative or the facility, as well as recognized practices in their research field. However, there are some general practices related to the management of user access that are worth taking into consideration. These include:

  • Having policies and procedures that are clear and concise, and that help ensure a fair and transparent process for the potential users;
  • Clearly defining the evaluation criteria and process that will be used to allocate user access;
  • Clearly defining the various classes of users and the associated user fees or rates for equipment  (when applicable);
  • Ensuring that committees or individuals involved in the review or who are responsible for allocating user access are unbiased;
  • Restricting physical access to the facility and its equipment to registered users only;
  • Putting in place an adequate scheduling process and clear communication of schedules for users to avoid conflicts and maximize the use of the facility and its equipment.

Here's how one facility has implemented these practices.

Canadian Light Source (CLS)

At the CLS, user access to most beamlines is oversubscribed. To manage this, the CLS has put in place various access mechanisms for users to obtain beam time. The review process and the methodology by which user beam time is awarded, allocated and scheduled, vary depending on the access mechanism chosen by the user.

At the MSI Workshop organized by the CFI in October 2015, the CLS shared some useful considerations for the setting of user access. These include:

  • Having external, arm’s length members on committees charged with the peer review  process;
  • Ensuring that user access is transparent and unbiased;
  • Sharing  user access processes and policies with the community;
  • Establishing a complaint mechanism that includes a neutral party.

To learn more about how the CLS establishes user access, consult the presentation made by the CLS at the 2015 MSI workshop.

The CLS is Canada’s national centre for synchrotron research. Located at the University of Saskatchewan, the CLS is a world-class, state-of-the-art research facility.


Dean Chapman
Science Director
Phone: 306.657.3514
Email: dean.chapman [at]

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