PFE Illustratie bij evaluatie portfolio KNAW- en NWO-institutenl owres.jpg

Evaluations NWO institutes

The NWO institutes deliver top-quality scientific research. That is clear, for example, from the assessment by external international evaluation committees that takes place once every six years. External evaluations are incredibly valuable for institutes and their researchers. International experts from the research field assess what has been achieved in the previous years. They also make recommendations for the research of an institute as well as its strategy and policy.

Press release | NWO institutes praised for quality, innovation and national role

For many years, the institute evaluations have been carried out according to the SEP protocol. This joint protocol from the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) is revised and approved every six years. In March 2020, the new protocol was approved, and the decision was taken to change its name. The acronym SEP no longer stands for Standard Evaluation Protocol, but now stands for Strategy Evaluation Protocol.

Strategy Evaluation Protocol 2021-2027

The Strategy Evaluation Protocol (SEP) for 2021-2027 has been approved by VSNU, NWO and KNAW. The SEP is used every six years to evaluate the quality, relevance and viability of research at public institutions in the Netherlands.

A research institute’s own objectives and strategy guide this process. The new protocol is now called the Strategy Evaluation Protocol to emphasise that the evaluation of the research is done in the context of the objectives and strategy of the institute concerned.

The SEP is a flexible instrument, intended to obtain the maximum benefit from research evaluations with the least amount of effort. The institutes are free to determine which indicators they consider suitable for evaluating the research of that institute. The self-evaluation report provides the basis for the evaluation. The SEP evaluations give boards and institutes the opportunity to follow the quality of the research and to improve this in the context of the ongoing institutional quality management cycle. Quantitative assessment criteria are no longer given to the institutes; the emphasis lies on qualitative assessments that the institute can set to work on in the future. Aspects such as Open Science, academic culture, HR policy and PhD policy are also weighed in the evaluation. With this, societal developments, such as recognising and rewarding researchers in a different manner, have also become part of the evaluation.

The most important points from the new SEP are explained in this video.


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

Workgroup SEP

NWO, together with KNAW and VSNU, has formed a workgroup for monitoring and further developing the Standard Evaluation Protocol. The workgroup also includes several experts in the field. The members of the workgroup are:

  • Kim Huijpen - VSNU
  • Lambert Speelman - VSNU
  • Chantal Bax - KNAW
  • Jacqueline Mout - NWO
  • Leonie van Drooge - Rathenau Instituut
  • Lieke van Fastenhout-Strating - University of Amsterdam
  • Els Swennen - Maastricht University
  • Haico te Kulve - University of Twente
  • Dov Ballak - Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU)
  • Steffie Hampsink - Radboud University
  • Lotte Melenhorst - TU Delft
  • Dagmar Eleveld-Trançikova - Radboudumc
  • Peter Hildering - QANU
  • Anne-Roos Renkema - VSNU

The workgroup fulfils the task of a national platform and advisory function and ensures knowledge exchange, advice and communication about the SEP. The workgroup is also the point of contact for external parties for requests about the SEP.

  • Mid-term evaluations 2014

    Mid-term evaluations in 2014

    The aim of the mid-term evaluations in 2014 was to obtain insight into how the external evaluations in 2011 were followed up and to obtain an outlook on future activities of the NWO institutes. The mid-term evaluation was organised according to a short, internal procedure.