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General Regulations

Approved by decision of the Board of Trustees on 25/10/2017

Art. 1.1

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. 1.2 (as implemented by decision of the Board of Trustees of 28/6/2023)

The beneficiaries of FWO funding, for individual research fellowships as well as for research projects, as well as any other contractual party involved in the research, must notify the FWO as soon as possible and without prejudice to the obligations included in the agreement with the FWO when they become aware of any significant change or of any event or circumstance that jeopardises the uninterrupted and diligent execution of the agreement by the beneficiary(ies) and which consequently has an impact on the execution and intended results of the research funded by the FWO.

The FWO reserves the right to take appropriate measures if no such notification is made correctly, including ending the granted funding.

Art. 2. (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 26/06/2019, 18/12/2019 and 29/06/2022)

§ 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 in whole or in part from the FWO subsidies, in a public “Open Access” database, in accordance with the provisions of Art. XI.196, §2/1 of the Code of Economic Law, within one year from the date of publication, in order to effect greater impact and valorisation of their work. The FWO derives the Open Access definition from the aforementioned Berlin Declaration and therefore expects worldwide and free online access to the above-mentioned publications for everyone, both within and outside the scientific context. 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.

§ 3. All publications and reprints by FWO funded researchers must mention that the Research Foundation - Flanders has (co-)financed the underlying research, as well as the relevant FWO file number.

§ 4. These researchers must also include the reference information for the publications in the systems of the relevant host institution and, via the relevant institution, in the FRIS research portal (if the host institution in question has undertaken to provide information to FRIS). When mentioned in the repository, a label must be clearly assigned indicating that this publication was created with funding from (among others) the FWO. A link must be created in the system and in the FRIS research portal between the FWO funding programme, the FWO file number of the project/fellowship/FWO funding and the relevant publication that at least in part was realised with the help of FWO funding. From 2024, only publications submitted to the FRIS research portal through the systems of the relevant host institution (if the relevant host institution has undertaken to provide information to FRIS) will be taken into account when evaluating scientific reports.

§ 5. Information about datasets linked to FWO-funded projects and fellowships and/or to publications resulting from FWO funding must be included in the systems of the relevant host institution and, via the relevant host institution, in the FRIS research portal (if the host institution has undertaken to provide information to FRIS).

§ 6. In addition, for infrastructure projects, the information on the infrastructure has to be delivered to the FRIS research portal by the host institutions involved in the infrastructure project (if the host institution in question has undertaken to provide information to FRIS), whereby a link has to be created between the infrastructure project and the infrastructure in question.

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 amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 27/03/2019, 18/02/2020, 24/06/2020, 22/11/2021, 26/10/2022 and 27/09/2023)

§1. Researchers must at all times carefully consider any ethical issues that may be raised by their research topic, approach and/or results and, where appropriate, take suitable precautionary measures. 

They are required to strictly comply with all relevant ethical and legal provisions at European and national level and 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. If, in the context of international cooperation, the subject and/or experimental procedure(s) in one of the non-EU partner countries raises ethical questions, ethical approval in the country where the experiments are to be carried out is not sufficient. In order to avoid 'ethics dumping', an ethical verification in a Flemish or European research centre is also required before the ethically sensitive research activity(ies) can start. Subsidised researchers must conduct their research in a rigorous and independent manner and faithfully disseminate and use the results.

As part of their grant application, researchers must truthfully fill out a self-evaluation questionnaire on ethical aspects of the planned research.   Where legally and/or institutionally required, they must obtain ethical approval from the appropriate ethics committee before undertaking any ethically sensitive research activity(ies). For projects involving non-human primates, the ethical approval procedure must have been launched by the deadline of the project application, otherwise a justification of the reasons why the ethical approval procedure could not yet be launched must be provided. The FWO must have received the ethical approval at the time of the rebuttal, or, if the procedure of the relevant subsidy channel does not provide for rebuttal, at least one month before the start of the evaluation panels. If the above-mentioned supporting documents are missing when submitting the project proposal or the ethical approval is not timely received, the application will be declared inadmissible.

The FWO or its authorised representative may require evidence of the ethical approvals on an ad hoc basis or as part of audits at the applicant’s host institution, at any time during and up to 5 years after the end of the project.

§2. If a funded project proposal includes a clinical trial, this trial must be registered before or at the onset of patient enrolment in a recognised public clinical trial registry . Once the first patient has been enrolled, the beneficiary must inform the FWO of the details of this registration. The data in the registry must be kept up-to-date for the duration of the study and supplemented with the clinical study protocol and summarised study results within one year after finalisation of the clinical trial (six months for paediatric studies), regardless of the outcome of the study (EU Clinical Trials Regulation No 536/2014). As part of the funded project activities, it is mandatory to publish the trial design, (statistical) methodology and results in a specialised Open Access journal, with reference to the identification number in the clinical studies registry. The monitoring of compliance with the aforementioned requirements forms an intrinsic part of the evaluation of the final project report.

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. (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 26.09.2018)


a. In the application forms for FWO fellowships and projects, the applicant must indicate in the appropriate section if the contents of the proposal and at least the major research actions have already been or are the subject of an application submitted to the FWO, for any supporting channel whatsoever, or to another organisation.  Such a parallel application may be textually identical or take a variant form.

b. In addition, the applicant must indicate if such a proposal has already been financed by the FWO or by another organisation.

§2. If the applicant indicates that a parallel application has already been or is being submitted, either to the FWO or elsewhere, and it has also already been financed, the expert panel evaluating the proposal may decide that

a. the research proposed in the new application is already being covered by the already financed proposal to such an extent that additional financing is not to be recommended, and the proposal is therefore rejected;

b. the research proposed in the new application is already being covered by the already financed proposal but not to such an extent that additional financing would not be recommended, and the proposal can therefore be approved, based on the criteria and conditions applicable to all proposals in the relevant supporting channel.


a. If the expert panel in charge of evaluating the proposal, finds that a similar proposal has already been submitted to the FWO or elsewhere without the applicant having reported this, it will first assess whether it is a parallel application as defined in paragraph 1 of this article.

b. If a parallel application appears to be involved and the previous application was not accepted, the present application will be rejected outright. Moreover, the FWO will inform the applicant in writing that he/she is required to report and justify such parallel applications in the future.

c. If a parallel application appears to be involved and the previous application was already accepted, the present application will be rejected outright. Moreover, because of this attempt at double financing of the same research, the applicant will not be permitted to submit any application during the next call for applications under the same programme.

d. If the applicant has submitted parallel applications on several occasions without reporting this, the Board of Trustees may decide to exclude the applicant for a longer time from the application submission procedure and open a case in relation to breach of scientific integrity (in accordance with the procedure set out in these regulations).

Art. 6.

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. 7.

§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. 8.

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. 9. (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 16/12/2020, 24/03/2021, 12/05/2021, 25/05/2022 and 25/01/2024)

§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 is not submitted by the deadline or if the report is incomplete or if the report shows that insufficient efforts have been made to achieve the scientific objectives or for other substantive reasons justified by the panel that fit within the generally accepted standards for proper scientific research, it will be scored as a 'fail'.

§4. In case of a 'fail' for non-submission or for other reasons put forward by the evaluating panel, the beneficiaries and the head of their host institution will be notified thereof in writing.

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

§6. If a report on ongoing or past research is scored as a ‘fail’, this may be used by the panel as a negative element when assessing a new application under the same funding programme submitted by the lead applicant concerned during the round in which the 'fail' was given or only during the next round in which an application is submitted.

§7. If a report on ongoing or past research is scored as a 'fail' because it was not submitted by the submission deadline, any new application from the relevant lead applicant or fellow will be inadmissible until the researcher concerned has submitted the report and it has been evaluated by the relevant expert panel.

Art. 10.

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

Art. 11.

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

Art. 12. (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 22/10/2021)

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. In addition, the supervisor must hold an appointment that fully covers the duration of the research project, unless otherwise set out in the relevant regulations.

Art. 13. (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 18/09/2019 and 22/10/2021)

Based on the available information, the supervisor(-spokesperson) is required to justify that he/she will normally be leading the project throughout its life cycle, regardless of the nature of the application, unless otherwise specified in the relevant regulations. If the supervisor(-spokesperson) submits a duly substantiated justification, he/she will be deemed to meet the requirement of this article.

This provision also applies to co-supervisors acting as main applicant and therefore managing the budget line of an eligible research institution other than one of the main host institutions as referred to in article 7, paragraph 2 of the regulations for projects fundamental research.

Art. 14. (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 26/06/2019)

Each FWO funded researcher must have a personal ORCID profile and register it with the host institution. This profile can be used by the FWO as a unique reference for the identification of the researcher involved

Art. 15. (as implemented by decision of the Board of Trustees of 30/03/2022)

Unless otherwise stipulated in the agreement between the FWO and the host institution/researcher(s), the submission of a data management plan (DMP) is required at all times. This initial DMP should contain at least the answers to the questions listed in the FWO template. A DMP must be submitted by the beneficiary, either the fellowship holder or the supervisor-spokesperson of a project, to the research coordination department of the host institution within 6 months after the official start of a project or fellowship. In the case of cross-institution projects, a DMP is to be submitted only to the main host institution. Upon completion of a project or fellowship, the final version of the DMP must be attached to the final report. This final version may contain new elements. In the absence of a detailed DMP, the final report will be considered incomplete.

Art. 16. (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 27/11/2019 and 24/06/2020)

§.1 FWO is implementing a sustainable travel policy in all its financing channels. In programmes where the CO2 contribution is an admissible cost, the relevant guidelines of the host institution involved must be complied with and the host institutions are required to annually report on the compliance.

§.2 Travelling to a risk destination, using FWO funds, is only permitted provided positive travel advice from the research institution to which the researcher is affiliated. In doing so, the guidelines and procedures applicable at this institution must be respected.

Art. 17. (as implemented by decision of the Board of Trustees of 24/6/2020)

The official language of the FWO regulations is Dutch. In the event of discussions or questions regarding the interpretation, application, etc. of the rules of the FWO, the Dutch text shall prevail over the English version

Art. 18.

Regarding support funding for which researchers affiliated with federal institutions are also eligible and where there is a restriction to the Dutch language frame at those institutions, the Management Board may grant an exception to that restriction to language frame based on a reasoned request.

Art. 19.

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