General Regulations

Approved by decision of the Board of Trustees on 25 October 2017

Art. 1.

Pursuant to Article 1 of the statutes, the FWO pursues its mission through activities aimed at pushing back the frontiers of knowledge in all areas of science, by stimulating and funding fundamental and strategic academic research at the universities in the Flemish Community and at scientific research institutes.

Art. 2.

§ 1. Property rights to inventions arising from FWO-funded research belong to the host institutions. Where several host institutions are involved in the same fellowship or project, they shall sign a cooperation agreement laying down arrangements for said property rights, at the start of the research.

§ 2. Following the Berlin Declaration of 2003 for the promotion of free access to scientific knowledge and cultural heritage, beneficiaries of FWO fellowships, grants and projects must deposit the publications resulting from the FWO subsidies, in a public “Open Access” database, within one year from the date of publication, in order to effect greater impact and valorisation of their work. Researchers are also advised to publish their other publications in such an "Open Access" database, the so-called "Open Archives", together with the research data that resulted in these publications.

Art. 3.

The granting of a fellowship or research grant does not imply any liability on the part of the FWO for any injury or damage to persons or property which may result, directly or indirectly, from such research.

Art. 4.

As far as ethical issues relating to their research are concerned, researchers are required to strictly comply with all relevant legislative provisions at European and national level.

They must truthfully fill out the questionnaire on ethical aspects in the application forms of the FWO and also seek ethical advice and provide it to the FWO where such is required by law or by institutional regulations.

In addition, they must carefully consider any other ethical issues that may be raised by their research. In doing so, they shall act in accordance with responsible research practices as laid down in, amongst others, the Ethical Code for scientific research in Belgium (2009) and other deontological declarations and protocols.

Researchers undertake to conduct their research in a rigorous and independent manner and to faithfully publish the results.

Art. 4bis – Research integrity

§1. Role of host institutions

  1. The host institutions where FWO beneficiaries carry out their research projects conduct a preventive policy with respect to scientific integrity and ensure the scientific integrity with which such research is to be carried out.
  2. In this context, the administration of the host institution is required to inform the secretary-general of FWO as soon as they have established breaches of scientific integrity committed by beneficiaries of the FWO and after all the relevant customary procedures of the institute have been followed and there is no reasonable doubt as to the breach and its precise nature.
  3. The secretary-general of FWO will notify the host institution of any serious indications of breaches of scientific integrity committed by one of the beneficiaries of the FWO. The host institution will thereupon initiate its customary procedure for breaches of scientific integrity. The host institution will in that case conduct the investigation in accordance with its own rules, and send its findings to the FWO.
  4. In any report to the FWO the following shall be described clearly and exhaustively: the findings made, the investigative methodology used, the further findings and, where appropriate, the advice of the VCWI. Throughout the entire procedure, the host institution shall make itself available to the FWO to provide additional information and shall make all reasonable efforts to help avoid any financial loss and damage to the reputation of the FWO.
  5. Communication by the host institution to third parties and vice versa shall always take place in consultation with the FWO.

§2. Procedure for breaches of scientific integrity

  1. In the event of indications of a breach of scientific integrity by fellows of the FWO or in the framework of other research funded by the FWO, the host institution shall conduct the investigation in accordance with its own rules and send its findings to the FWO in accordance with paragraph 1. The findings must be sent in a way that enables the date of sending and receipt to be established clearly and conclusively. The file will, therefore, preferably be sent by the university to the FWO by e-mail, fax or registered mail.
  2. The FWO treats all files as strictly confidential.
  3. If the file includes an advice of the Flemish Commission for Scientific Integrity (VCWI), the researcher will as soon as possible be invited for a hearing by the FWO.
  4. If the host institution has not asked the VCWI for advice with respect to the file in question, the FWO may submit the file for advice to the VCWI. As soon as possible after receipt of the advice of the university or the VCWI, the researcher will be invited for a hearing by the FWO. The researcher has the right to legal counsel at the hearing.
  5. If, based on the first (local) or second (VCWI) advice, no case can be made against the researcher, the procedure automatically ends and the researcher does not have to be invited.
  6. After hearing the researcher, the FWO will, within the legally and/or contractually specified period, decide on the consequences to be attached to the facts. The FWO may decide to terminate or revise the agreement relating to the fellowship, research project or other FWO grant channel, always taking into account the interests of the researchers who appear to be in good faith. If the fellow has an employment contract with the FWO, a decision in respect of possible dismissal for good cause will be made within three working days. 
  7. The members of the Board of Trustees of the FWO who represent the host institution to which the researcher is affiliated, shall in no case participate in the hearing or the decision process.
  8. If it is decided to dismiss the researcher for good cause, because the breach of integrity constitutes gross negligence, which immediately and definitively renders any professional collaboration between the FWO and the researcher impossible, this decision will in any case be made and notified to the researcher within three working days after sufficient certainty about the facts has been obtained. By 'sufficient certainty about the facts' is meant: if the findings of the relevant institution(s) and/or those of the Flemish Commission for Scientific Integrity, which may be asked for a second opinion by the FWO, provide sufficient clarity.
  9. Notification of the reasons of the dismissal for good cause to fellows affiliated to the FWO under an employment contract, shall take place within three working days following the date of dismissal, clearly stating the reasons and the date of the facts. Saturday is counted as a working day for calculation of the three-day period.
  10. For PhD fellows and other beneficiaries of FWO funding, a decision on the agreement or on the other consequences to be attached to the facts will be made as soon as possible after sufficient certainty about the facts has been obtained.
  11. The FWO notifies the researcher of its decisions by registered letter or, where necessary, by a writ served by a court officer.
  12. The FWO also notifies the host institution of the relevant researcher of its decision within seven calendar days.
  13. The FWO Board of Trustees decides whether or not a criminal complaint will be lodged and notifies the host institution of its decision. The Board of Trustees may, where appropriate, suspend the disciplinary procedure.

Art. 5.

Applications must be submitted not later than the closing date stated in the call, to the Research Foundation – Flanders. If this date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the closing date is moved to the following Monday at 5:00 PM.

Art. 6.

§1. Candidates may submit only one application per call. Candidates may apply twice for the same fellowship.

These limits apply to the fundamental research PhD fellowship and the strategic basic research PhD fellowship combined, it being understood that a candidate may submit either an application for a fundamental research PhD fellowship or for a strategic basic research PhD fellowship per call, and, in case of rejection, again one application for only one of both channels in the next call.

§2. Persons cannot apply for the same type of fellowship of which they have previously, even if only partially, been the beneficiary.

Fundamental research PhD fellowships and strategic basic research PhD fellowships are considered the same type of fellowship. Junior and senior postdoctoral fellowships, by contrast, are considered separate types of fellowship.

Art. 7.

Where a specific regulation of the FWO requires an "appointment" as a condition for applying for resources, both as principal applicant and as co-applicant, or for the (co-)supervision of an applicant, a "remunerated appointment" is meant unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Art. 8.

§1. The nominative beneficiary of FWO funding shall, at the request of the FWO administration, submit an interim and/or final report. Where several beneficiaries receive funding under the same approved application, each of them will be co-responsible for submission of the report and communication on the subject will take place with each of them.

§2. A report will in principle be evaluated by the panel that evaluated the initial application, unless otherwise specified.

§3. If the report has not been submitted by the submission deadline communicated in advance by the FWO, a reminder stating the submission time limit will be sent out.

§4. If the report has not been submitted by the submission time limit, its evaluation will be kept 'under consideration' by the relevant panel until the next call and report round, during which the above procedure will be repeated.

§5. If the report still has not been submitted after this second round, a 'failure mark' is given.

§6. In case of a 'failure mark' for non-submission or for other reasons put forward by the evaluating panel, the beneficiary and the head of his/her host institution will be notified thereof in writing.

§7. In case of a 'failure mark' for a report on ongoing research, the relevant panel can propose to the Board of Trustees to stop the funding of that research.

§8. A 'failure' for a report on ongoing or completed research may be used by the panel as a negative element in the evaluation of a new application submitted by one or more of the beneficiaries involved during the round in which the 'failure mark' was given or during the next round.

Art. 9.

The applications, accompanied by the recommendations of the competent Expert panels, are forwarded for decision by the Board of Trustees.

Art. 10.

The secretary general of the Board of Trustees of the FWO is responsible for the implementation of the Board's decisions.

Art. 11.

If several institutions are involved in the research project that may act as principal host institution, as set out in the relevant article of the applicable regulations, the supervisor for each of these institutions must meet at least the conditions set out in the relevant article of the applicable regulations, and in addition hold an appointment that fully covers the duration of the research project.

Art. 12.

Based on the available information, the supervisor is required to justify that he/she will normally be leading the project throughout its life cycle, regardless of the nature of the application. A duly substantiated motivation will be deemed to meet the requirement of this article.

Art. 13.

These general regulations apply to all specific regulations. The specific regulations can be found on the FWO website.