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Recognition & Rewards on a 'summer tour' of the institutes

'Veronica is coming to see you this summer.' Some of you might remember this 1980s jingle from the Dutch radio station Veronica. During the summer months, you could come across the Veronica promotion team at the local fair or on the beach.
On behalf of the NWO-I project team Recognition & Rewards (R&R), P&O policy advisor Lucienne Stavenuiter and Communication advisor Mirjam Hartman also went on a tour this spring. However, their focus was not so much to promote R&R, but rather to listen to what people at all the institutes had to say.

Recognition & Rewards

To recap, NWO-I has joined Recognition & Rewards, the national movement to realise a more modern and balanced academic system. This movement started with the publication of the position paper “Room for everyone’s talent” by VSNU, NFU, NWO, KNAW and ZonMw in 2019. In the period 2020-2022, many people from NWO-I and sections worked hard to translate this publication to our organisation’s situation. At the end of 2022, this resulted in the NWO-I vision document 'Recognising and Rewarding Talent in Today’s Academia' and a plan to implement this vision.

And now

Since the end of 2022, it might seem that R&R has been put on the backburner, but nothing could be further from the truth. With a partly new R&R project team, and in close collaboration with the R&R committee, we are now working to ensure that R&R becomes part of everyday practice at the NWO Institutes. Lucienne and Mirjam explain that the original implementation plan already had an extensive action list to be realised in the areas of personnel policy, collaboration in teams and communication. ‘The list was so detailed that we took an intermediate step first. If R&R is to genuinely succeed, then we first of all need to make sure it is closely aligned with the needs and priorities of the institutes, and with what is already happening there. We want to connect with this as smartly as possible, so that the project has a better chance of being adopted and can be properly implemented in the organisation.’

Tour of the institutes

The discussions with the institutes took place in May and June. Lucienne and Mirjam often met with the management team and sometimes the discussion took place with the director and head of P&O and/or a few group leaders. Lucienne: "We always posed the questions: Is R&R a current theme at your institute? What do you already do in this area? What do you need to bring these efforts further? Where do any (remaining) concerns or obstacles lie? And what is a realistic schedule for you?
We have now completed the tour and will use the summer period to evaluate the current situation and produce a definitive action plan. The R&R process will be taken further by the new project leader Maartje van Kempen, who recently started at the NWO-I office, and her colleagues."

Initial findings

Mirjam can already tell us something about the outcome of the discussions. "Each institute has its own approach and often already works with this concept, whether or not they label it R&R. Though all at their own speed and with their own issues. Sometimes this concerns very practical matters like personnel forms. But it can also be things like a completely different way of thinking: for example, who are all those people who make a genuine contribution to your research results? Is it just the researchers or does it also include, for example, the technicians, software developers and facilitating support staff? Is sufficient attention paid to their contribution? The theme Leadership also regularly cropped up in the discussions."


The NWO Institutes have noticed – just like the other research institutions in the Netherlands – that NWO-D is also busy implementing the concept of Recognition & Rewards. As the interim project leader R&R, Lucienne also regularly has meetings with her counterparts from NWO-D: "The question 'How do we now recognise an interesting research proposal and the researcher’s potential?' will be answered by the funding body with a modified template for research proposals. Some of the assessment criteria used in this template differ from those used in the past. We see that from their different perspectives, the research funder and the researchers do not yet automatically come up with similar benchmarks. However, we also see now that all parties involved are open to a conversation about how we can work with each other to optimally align indicators for performance and potential, on the one hand, and results and assessment criteria on the other."

Next steps

The project group R&R will now elaborate their findings further with the project team and, based on this, a concrete action plan will be written so that the actions proposed in the implementation plan can be realised. You can stay informed about further developments via the Inside NWO-I newsletter and the NWO-I website. If you would like to share your thoughts about R&R, please contact the committee via

Want to know more?

Keep an eye on the NWO-I website for new developments:

Re-read the interview with Laura Jussen and Michael Wise

Read the NWO-I vision document Recognition and Rewards (in Dutch):

Newsletter Inside NWO-I, June/July 2023
You can find the archive of the newsletter Inside NWO-I on the NWO-I website.

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