Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP) 2009-2015

Protocol for research assessment in the Netherlands


2009 | 24 pages | free

The Standard Evaluation Protocol 2009-2015 (SEP) is the fourth protocol for evaluation of scientific research in the Netherlands, following the protocols of 1994, 1998 and 2003. The aim of the SEP is to provide common guidelines for the evaluation and improvement of research and research policy, based on expert assessments.

In 2008, an evaluation of the SEP 2003-2009 undertaken by VSNU, KNAW and NWO showed positive results and users emphasized the importance of continuity in the guidelines for research assessment. In this evaluation, universities and KNAW- and NWO-institutes also underlined that the administrative burden should be diminished and that more emphasis should be placed on societal relevance, on positioning and on benchmarking.

The SEP 2009-2015 has incorporated these elements. Lessening of the administrative burden is achieved in this protocol by, among other things, limiting the size of the self-evaluation report and by making the midterm review a very light procedure. The external evaluation of scientific research applies at two levels: the research institute as a whole and its research programmes. Three main tasks of the research institute and its research programmes are to be assessed: the production of results relevant to the scientific community, the production of results relevant to society, and the training of PhD-students. Four main criteria are considered in the assessment: quality, productivity, societal relevance and vitality, and feasibility.

Since the boards of KNAW and NWO and the executive boards of universities are responsible for the external evaluation of the research units under their authority, they are the primary users of the SEP. Regarding the meta-evaluation of the system, the universities are represented in the board of the VSNU. Next to the boards, the research institutes (as units to be evaluated) and the external evaluation committee fulfil key roles in the evaluation process. The SEP therefore provides guidelines for the boards, the institutes and the evaluation committees.