More than 25 percent fewer applications in Vidi round 2018

13 May 2019

At the start of 2018, NWO announced that it would require an embedding guarantee from candidates for the Veni and Vidi funding rounds and that it would evaluate this measure after one year. The evaluation has now been completed and reveals that the measure has led to the number of applications for the Vidi grant being reduced by more than 25 percent compared to 2017. Additionally, it turns out that the embedding guarantee has not led to a discipline, institution or institute no longer being able to participate in the Vidi round.

NWO also investigated several other points of concern from researchers. Once the awards for the Vidi round 2018 are known, NWO will be able to further analyse the effects of the embedding guarantee. NWO will therefore continue with the embedding guarantee for the forthcoming Vidi round of 2019. Based on the further analyses, NWO will examine whether the embedding guarantee in the Vidi funding round will also be continued after 2019.

With the embedding guarantee, NWO wants to reduce the number of applications and ensure a better connection with the personnel policy of the research institutions. The embedding guarantee means that researchers can only submit a Veni or a Vidi application with the support of their intended research institution. This measure, which was realised in consultation with universities, is necessary to achieve a better balance between the number of applications and the number of grants awarded. As a result of this, researchers do not have to invest as much time in writing and assessing proposals. Nevertheless, the measure also gave rise to concerns from scientists about possible side effects, especially in the case of the Vidi. In its evaluation, NWO further investigated the most important points of concern - which came from sources including a survey from The Young Academy: 

  • It was claimed that the embedding guarantee was mainly issued to researchers with a tenured appointment, as a result of which only “insiders” had a chance of applying for a Vidi grant.
  • As the embedding guarantee was mainly issued to researchers with a tenured contract, researchers who came from abroad looking for an institution that would support them would no longer have a chance of submitting a proposal.

NWO shall continue to evaluate these points in close consultation with The Young Academy.

Slight increase in number of applicants with a tenured appointment

The evaluation revealed that the share of applicants with a tenured appointment rose by 12%, from 42% in 2017 to 54% in 2018. However, due to the embedding guarantee, the 22% of applicants without a tenured appointment now have the prospect of a tenured appointment or a tenure-track appointment, whereas that was not necessarily the case in the past. A comparison with previous years is not possible. That is because the appointment is not part of the information that applicants pass on to NWO, as it is not a criterion in the assessment. In retrospect, NWO manually checked the appointment of applicants in 2017 and 2018.

It is still too early to conclude whether the difference of 12% between 2017 and 2018 is a consequence of the embedding guarantee. It is also too early to make a statement about whether this effect is incidental or structural in nature. However, NWO does note that this is not a shocking effect: variations of this order are usual between successive Talent Scheme funding rounds. NWO will therefore continue to carefully monitor this point in the coming years to clarify whether it is a structural effect or not.

Type of appointment of Vidi researchers at the time of submission of the application

     Number   Tenured appointment    Tenure track Temporary
2017 589 42% (247 applicants) 24% 34%
2018 443 54% (238 applicants) 24% 22%

Ratio of applicants from abroad stable

The embedding guarantee has not led to a decrease in the number of applicants from abroad compared to 2017. The number of applicants from a foreign institution was already limited in size in recent years. In 2017 and 2018 the size of this group remained more or less the same.

Number of female applicants also increased with embedding guarantee

The embedding guarantee seems to have had a positive effect on the increase in the ratio of female applicants, which was already visible in recent years in the Vidi rounds. In this case as well, it is too early to conclude whether this concerns a structural effect. NWO shall continue to monitor this point in the future.

Download the full evalation

Source: NWO