Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM)


What is an STSM?

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) are exchange visits aiming to support individual mobility, strengthen existing networks, and foster collaboration between COST Action Participants. A STSM should specifically contribute to the scientific objectives of the COST Action, whilst at the same time allowing those partaking in the missions to learn new techniques, gain access to specific data, instruments, or methods not available in their own institutions or organisations.

Why become an STSM applicant?

Applicants should be doing research that deals with the conceptual, methodological and ethical challenges of traces in Europe and beyond. The purpose of an STSM is to enable an applicant to upgrade or expand their research in the realms of social justice, climate change and technological influence on society. The applicants research can also be widely circulated through TRACTS communication and dissemination mechanisms.

What does the financial support include?

The financial support is a contribution to the overall expenses incurred during the STSM and may not necessarily cover all of the associated costs. It provides a contribution for travelling, accommodation and subsistence expenses, implementation of the project, as well as delivery of the report and ATLAS contribution to the COST Action MC. STSM activities must occur in their entirety within the dates specified in the relevant call.

The following funding conditions apply (see also the COST Vademecum):

The TRACTS COST Action encourages shorter STSM visits, so it limited the financial support to a maximum of €2,000. The final amount of the grant is decided by the STSM Evaluation Committee. It should reflect the duration and location of the STSM. It is limited to cover travel and subsistence expenses and is paid as a grant.

Payment of the grant is subject to the scientific report (after the completion of the STSM) being approved by the TRACTS STSM Evaluation Committee and a researcher affiliated with the Host institution. The Grant holder or the COST Association cannot be considered the grantee’s employer. Grantees must take care of their own health care, social security, safety provisions, taxation, etc.

Who is eligible to be an STSM Applicant?

STSM applicants shall be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD Student or postdoctoral fellow or can be employed by, or affiliated to, an institution, organisation or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. The institutions / organisation or legal entity where applicants pursue their main strand of research are considered as Home Institutions. The Host Institution is the institution / organisation that will host the successful applicant.

The applicant’s Home institution should be located in a participating full COST member or Cooperating member, TRACTS MC observer from a Near Neighbouring country (NNC), or from an Approved European RTD organization (please see COST Action Vademecum, 2021, p. 32-33, available here). Grantee can perform a mission anywhere in the world. 

Selection process

The application is first reviewed by the STSM coordinator, who confirms receipt of all required documents. The coordinator then shares it with the members of the evaluation group, which consists of the Action Chair, Action Co-Chair, Grant Awarding Coordinator, STSM Coordinator, and respective working groups chairs and co-chairs.

The selection of successful STSM applicants is based on consideration of the scientific scope of the proposed mission (relevance and scientific quality) and the applicant’s research background. The members of the commission also evaluate the connection with the project aims, the clarity of the research plan, the feasibility of the set research goals and the intended dissemination of the results. In line with the STSM Evaluation Committee, the STSM committee also ensures geographical and gender balance and preferentially awards STSMs to Early Career Investigators (ECI). Shorter STSMs will be prioritized.

How does it work?

  1. All applicants must carefully read the funding rules detailed in section 8 of the COST Vademecum, pages 32–33. For information on how to fill in the online application form, the candidates should consult the STSM User guide.
  2. All applicants must register for an e-COST profile at, adding their bank account details to their profile.
  3. All applicants must complete, submit and download their STSM application online at before the application submission deadline expires. In addition, the application needs to be sent to the STSM coordinator via email.
    The list of supporting documents to be submitted for the evaluation includes:
    • The submitted STSM application form (downloadable when the online application is submitted – see point 3 above) including the motivation and work plan summary highlighting the proposed contribution to the call and the scientific objectives of the TRACTS COST Action;
    • A letter of support from the Home institution and a written agreement from the Host institution (the applicant should thus contact the Host institution prior to submitting the application form);
    • A Full CV (including a list of academic publications – if applicable). The CV must include the award date of the applicant's PhD (or expected date of completion for doctoral students) and their current position.
  4. The applications are then assessed by the Evaluation - TRACTS STSM Evaluation Committee.

After successfull application

Within 30 days from the end date of the STSM, the successful applicant must submit a scientific report to the Host institution and to the STSM Coordinator. The template for the scientific report is accessible in the e-COST application for the STSM. The applicant is also responsible for acquiring an official acceptance letter/email confirmation of acceptance from a senior Researcher affiliated with the Host institution formally accepting the scientific report. This formal acceptance of the scientific report has to be sent to the Grant Holder and STSM Coordinator for archiving purposes. Failure to submit the scientific report within 30 days from the end date of the STSM will effectively cancel the grant.

In addition to the COST Association's and the specific call's requirements, the grantee is required to produce an ATLAS contribution and give basic STSM information for the TRACTS website. An ATLAS submission form can be found here.

More information:

More information on STSMs is available in the COST Vademecum (Section 8, p. 32-33) and by contacting the TRACTS Short Term Scientific Missions Coordinator Tina Palaić (