NWO scientific integrity policy

As a research council and an employer at the NWO institutes, NWO shares responsibility for the scientific integrity of the research it finances, and it makes efforts to prevent and detect violations of integrity. NWO policy aligns with that of the universities, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

New complaints procedure into effect on 1 June 2019

NWO has aligned its complaints procedure with the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, which was launched on 1 October 2018. In the meantime, NWO’s executive board has validated the new procedure, so the new Complaints Procedure for Research Integrity will go into effect on 1 June 2019 for NWO-D.


Bridging function to NWO-wide procedure

This new procedure has a bridging function. A work group is currently developing an NWO-wide procedure, which will also apply to NWO-I (which still has its own procedure), as well as researchers working for the institutes.

Most important change

The most important change is the mechanism. The current procedure allows anyone to submit a complaint (whether perceived or real) about a violation of scientific integrity, providing there is a funding relationship with NWO, or a request for funding has been submitted. Rejected applicants, who have no relationship with NWO, therefore also have the right to submit a complaint.

The NWO procedure has a clear safety net function in the new mechanism. The institutes are required to establish their own research integrity procedure. Based on the national code of conduct, anyone can submit a complaint to the Research Integrity Committee (RIC) of the institute in question, including third parties such as referees and anonymous complainants. The RIC of the institute in question is required, based on the national code of conduct, to handle the complaint. NWO’s Research Integrity Committee will only handle a complaint if there is a funding relationship, or one is in the process of being established, and the complainant cannot turn to an institute’s RIC (for example, if the group of applicants has been extended to include people who are not necessarily linked to an institute).

Permanent Research Integrity Committee

NWO will establish a permanent RIC to evaluate complaints. The Scientific Integrity Desk (meldpuntintegriteit@nwo.nl) will remain unchanged and is the designated place where people can submit complaints and questions.

Awareness and compliance

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2018) forms the guiding principle for NWO's integrity policy. Everybody who submits an application to NWO must state that they are familiar with the code and that they are complying with it. Also after an application has been awarded funding, NWO requires researchers to state in the progress reports that they are adhering to the code.

Possibility to report violations

NWO has set up a Scientific Integrity Desk for complaints about researchers who have requested or received NWO funding. The desk operates in addition to the research institutions' own integrity committees.

Interventions in cases of violation

The NWO Fraud Protocol was extended with effect from May 2013 to include the violation of scientific integrity. This protocol describes which procedure will be followed in the event that fraud comes to light. In the event of fraud the grant can be withdrawn or amended. NWO can also claim money back.