Measures to reduce application pressure

The high application pressure, low award rates and assessment via peer review are points of concern in both the Netherlands and other countries. The writing of the many research proposals and the assessment process are time-consuming: both for the researchers who submit proposals and for those who must assess these. Time that could have been used for research. In September 2017, NWO announced several measures to reduce the application pressure for researchers and increase the award rates. On this page, we describe the process that led to these measures as well as how these measures are now being implemented.

Development of the application pressure measures

To make the process of submitting a proposal and assessing it more efficient, NWO started a consultative process in 2017 among various stakeholders. In April 2017, researchers, managers of knowledge institutions, policymakers, managers of partner organisations and partners from industry participated in a national working conference. In small groups, they brainstormed about which measures could reduce the application pressure and how NWO could improve the assessment procedures. In June 2017, an international working conference took place with sister organisations of NWO in other countries. The subjects discussed included alternative assessment methods, peer review and the increasing application pressure.

The input and insights acquired during the conferences led to a memorandum in October 2017 in which NWO announced several measures to reduce the application pressure for researchers and to increase the award rates. The intended measures were extensively coordinated with the Association of Universities in the Netherlands, and regular consultations with this body continue to take place during the implementation process.

Implementation of application pressure measures

After the announcement of the measures in September 2017, NWO has gradually been realising the measures and has now implemented several of these. In February 2018, NWO announced that researchers would be required to provide an embedding guarantee for the funding rounds Vidi 2018 and Veni 2019. With the embedding guarantee, universities can more precisely choose which researchers should invest energy in the often-time-consuming writing of a proposal. In addition, the NWO Domains Social Sciences and Humanities and Applied and Engineering Sciences are realising a pilot in the Veni 2019 funding round in which pre-proposals based on a CV and a concise research idea will be used. 

NWO is carrying out additional research for other measures. For example, NWO is working with a number of experts to realise a research agenda and to carefully consider whether the self-organised fund allocation (SOFA) model can be implemented. NWO is also carrying out a study into the size of the Matthew effect in the Netherlands

Stay informed

Via this page, we will keep you informed about the latest developments and the outcomes from both working conferences.

Read more

Memorandum NWO

NWO will develop and implement several measures to reduce application pressure.

Simplification of Research Funding Instruments

Higher degree of clarity and a better connection between the domains for multidisciplinary research proposals.


Mr O.R. (Olivier) Morot, spokesperson Mr O.R. (Olivier) Morot, spokesperson t: +31 (0)6 53175 377