The selection committee issues advice about which proposals should be granted funding. This is based on written material: the research report, the referees' report and the applicant's rebuttal. Interviews, or a site visit, can form part of the assessment procedure.


The selection committee chair prepares the committee meeting with the secretary (an NWO policy officer).

Prior to the committee meeting, all committee members are sent the proposal text, referees' report and rebuttal for each research proposal. The chair can ask several committee members to act as pre-advisors, and to review several proposals prior to the assessment meeting. The chair can also ask all members to give each proposal a provisional assessment score prior to the meeting.

Pre-selection if a large number of proposals are submitted

If the number of research proposals is very large, and more than four times the number of possible grants within the budget, the selection committee can make a pre-selection before the proposals are sent to the referees. This happens because NWO does not want to burden referees with a large number of research proposals that have little chance of being granted funding.

If pre-selection is necessary, then NWO pays special attention to the appointment of committee members. This is because the committee members have to make a pre-selection without the assessments of referees based solely on their own knowledge of the discipline and their scientific experience.

Committee meeting

When selection committees gather to discuss the research proposals, advice from pre-advisors plays a role in the assessment and comparison of the proposals. The chair and secretary monitor whether the assessment takes place according to the applicable procedure and criteria.

The committee determines the quality of the referees' assessments for each research proposal. For example, testing the robustness of the arguments. Referees' assessments with little scientific support will be placed in the appropriate perspective. The rebuttal from the applicant plays an important role in this respect.

The committee then compares all proposals using the assessment criteria. At the end of the procedure, proposals are given a numerical final assessment that reflects the committee's prioritisation. This final assessment forms the basis for the selection committee's advice to the board.

Interview or site visit

If the assessment procedure includes an interview, or site visit, then an assessment of the written material (research proposal, referees' comments and rebuttal) will usually happen first. Based on the assessment of this material, the committee will decide which applicants are eligible for a site visit or interview. They also prepare the key questions to be posed to the applicant.


Based on the outcomes of the committee meeting, the secretary formulates a draft advice, which is agreed upon with the chair. It is then submitted to the other committee members for approval.

The advice usually contains a prioritisation and/or a proposal stating which proposals are nominated for funding. A description of the procedure followed is also provided. The advice is sent to the board that takes a funding decision.


The committee's assessment of a research proposal is summarised according to a qualification system so that the applicant knows how good the proposal is. The qualification categories are:

  • excellent
  • very good
  • good
  • unsatisfactory
  • is not eligible for the following phase of the NWO selection procedure (applies solely to funding instruments with a pre-selection)


Everything the selection committee does is confidential. Committee members may not share information with other persons, or parties outside of the committee, during or after the activities they have performed.