Evaluations NWO-Institutes

The NWO institutes guarantee top quality in scientific research. This is evident, for example, from the assessment realised once every six years by external international evaluation committees. External evaluations are of considerable value for the institutes and their researchers. International experts from the research field concerned assess what has been achieved in the previous six years. They also make recommendations about an institute's research, strategy and policy.

The Standard Evaluation Protocol 2015-2021 (SEP)

For the institute evaluations the national standard evaluation protocol (SEP) has been used for many years. With effect from 2015, the Standard Evaluation Protocol 2009-2015 (SEP) will apply.  What is new in SEP 2015-2021 and what remains unchanged?


  • Using a framework of output indicators the institute can determine which indicators it will use to describe its output, the use of that output, and the forms of recognition for that output. The Instituten Platform Kennisbenutting -IPKB (Institutes Knowledge Utilisation Platform) of NWO has determined the indicators that the institutes can use to explain their ‘societal relevance’ in particular. (The indicators are referred to in Appendix D of the SEP).
  • In the self-evaluation report the institutes writes a short narrative in which it describes its own societal relevance.
  • The number of assessment criteria has been reduced from four to three. These are: ‘scientific quality’, ‘societal relevance’ and ‘viability’ (equipped for the future).
  • Attention is paid to PhD courses and how an institute safeguards scientific integrity.
  • As of 1 September 2016 diversity was added to the SEP for special attention from the committee.


  • The preparation for an institute evaluation;
  • The composition of an international independent evaluation committee;
  • The production of a self-evaluation report;
  • The site visit;
  • The realisation of the evaluation report.

SEP Working group

Together with the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Association of universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), NWO has set up a working group to monitor and develop the Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP). In addition a couple of experts from the field also participate in the working group. The members are:

  • Kim Huijpen – VSNU
  • Jean Philippe de Jong – KNAW
  • Helga Varwijk – NWO
  • Leonie van Drooge – Rathenau instituut
  • Lieke van Fastenhout-Strating – Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Meg van Bogaert - QANU

The working group functions as a national platform and advisory group and has the task to encourage knowledge exchange and communication about the SEP. Third parties can contact any member of the working group.

Institute evaluations in 2017

Panels of independent, international experts have evaluated the nine institutes of NWO according to three criteria:

  • Scientific quality
  • Societal relevance
  • Future viability

The evaluation committees graded these criteria on a four-point scale: excellent/world-leading, very good, good, and unsatisfactory. Of the 27 assessments, 19 were ‘world leading’ and 8 were ‘very good’.

The expert panels praise  the innovative research, the global position and the national role of the institutes.


Mid-term institute evaluations in 2014

The aim of these mid-term evaluations is to provide insight into the follow-up of the external evaluations in 2011 and to consider the future activities of the NWO institutes. The mid-term evaluation is organised according to a light, internal procedure.

institute evaluations in 2011

In 2011 AMOLF, ASTRON, CWI, DIFFER, NIOZ, Nikhef, NSCR and SRON were assessed as excellent by panels of international experts. 



Helga Varwijk Helga Varwijk +31 (0)70 3440529 h.varwijk@nwo.nl