Good to know before you apply

Before you start writing your application, there is some information that is good to know. Learn about our assessment criteria, which language to write your application in, our requirements regarding access to results and research data, and considerations for your project when you apply for funding from Formas.

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Assessment criteria

We assess and score all applications based on the criteria described in the call description. Carefully consider all the criteria when writing your application, and clearly describe how your application relates to them. Remember, assessment is based solely on the information you provide in your application. Take the time to make sure you include everything you need, and remember to structure the information in your application clearly and logically.

The criteria we use to assess research projects

Applications for research projects are usually assessed according to our five basic criteria for scientific quality and societal relevance. Sometimes we use additional criteria, and if so this is always stated in the call description.

When can other criteria be used?

Sometimes, but not always, there can be additional criteria for calls that relate to specific topics or themes.

Our five basic criteria

Three of our five basic criteria concern scientific quality and two concerns societal relevance. All criteria are equally important, unless the call description indicates otherwise.

Criteria for scientific quality

The review panel will assess your application as follows:

  • Scientific relevance of the purpose.
  • Originality and novelty of purpose, theory and hypotheses.
  • Possibility of scientifically significant results.
  • Alignment of the purpose with the purpose and focus of the call.

The assessors also look favourably upon:

  • Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches as they relate to the current research question.

It is therefore important that you include these considerations in your application if they are relevant to your project.

The review panel assesses the following:

  • Feasibility and suitability of the scientific methods.
  • Well-defined and realistic work plan.
  • Coordination of the project and the research group.
  • Whether the publication and communication plan is well-defined and realistic.
  • The appropriateness of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, where relevant.
  • Where the proposed research requires ethical considerations, how these are taken into account.
  • Reasonability of the budget in relation to the implementation of the project.


Here, the review panel weighs the following:

  • Scientific quality of the publications.
  • Ability to carry out the project according to the project plan.
  • Experience of supervision.
  • Project management experience.
  • National and international activities, including projects, networks, commissions, honorary commissions, participation in or organisation of workshops and conferences.
  • Interest in, experience and ability to disseminate research and research results to stakeholders/end users.
  • Strength and competitiveness of the research group.

The review panel assesses the quality of scientific publications with respect to the standards within each field. The assessment focuses on the content and quality of the publications rather than on the venue of publication.

Publications are only part of what is considered in the criterion of scientific competence. The reviewers also take into account other forms of achieved results and experiences in their assessment. This may include patents, products, policy impact, education and other forms of dissemination of knowledge.

In the assessment the reviewers consider relevant reasons for interruptions in research, such as parental leave and sick leave, that may have affected the applicant’s record of outputs.

Criteria for societal relevance

The review panel will assess how well you motivate how your proposed research addresses the following four considerations:

  1. The research question involves important social/sectoral issues, nationally and/or internationally.
  2. The project has the potential over a short-term or long-term perspective to be utilised and contribute to sustainable development nationally and/or internationally.
  3. Stakeholder/end user needs have been taken into account in the design of the project.
  4. A concrete and realistic plan for both, scientific publishing and communication of results with relevant stakeholders and/or end users throughout the project’s duration.

Taking into account the needs of stakeholders or users can include references to directives, environmental objectives, the UN’s sustainable development goals and related targets, and discussions with the relevant stakeholders or users.

The terms “stakeholders” and “users” are broadly defined as actors who can benefit from the research results or enable their future use in society. This includes actors outside or inside the research community (depending on whether the project is of a more basic or more applied nature), nationally or internationally.

The review panel assesses whether the application contains the following:

  • A description of relevant stakeholders and/or users
  • A concrete and realistic plan for a) the project’s involvement of relevant stakeholders or users and (b) the project’s plan for communicating the research and its results with the stakeholders or users.

Communication with stakeholders and users can take place in different ways and with different timeframes, depending on the topic. However, it should include various forms of dialogue with stakeholders and the potential users of the research.

The terms “stakeholders” and “users” are broadly defined as actors who can benefit from the research results or enable their future use in society. This includes actors outside or inside the research community (depending on whether the project is of a more basic or more applied nature), nationally or internationally.

Communication projects, innovation projects, conferences and workshops

The criteria we use to assess communication projects and projects within strategic innovation programmes are always stated in the call description. This also applies to conferences and workshops.

Underrepresented sex given preference when scores are equal

Discrimination, such as on the basis of sex, is not allowed in the assessment of applications. The scientific quality and relevance of the proposed research takes precedence over aspects of gender equality in the awarding of funding. But in cases where applications have the same assessment scores, the underrepresented sex is given preference.

Language in the application

We recommend that you write your application in English, since the review panel that will assess your application is international. You can write your application in Swedish, but it will then be translated prior to the assessment. There are two parts of the application that have special language requirements, no matter which language you choose to use.

If you write your application in Swedish, we will submit the section relating to the research programme for translation into English before the panel assesses your application. You will not be able to read the translation or change it before it is assessed.

Your budget specification will not be translated. So, please write the budget specification in English, even if you write the other sections in Swedish and submit your application in the Swedish version of our application system Prisma.

Special language requirements

The following two sections of the application have special requirements on which language they should be written in:

  1. The short project description should be available in both Swedish and English.
  2. The popular science description should be written in Swedish.

Categorise your project based on the sustainability goals

When you apply, you need to categorise your project according to the UN’s 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals External link.. This categorisation enables us to report on how the research we fund contributes to sustainable development and to solving various societal challenges.

Base the categorisation on the direct objectives of your project or the expected application of the results.

There are many organisations around the world that align themselves with the global goals. This helps us – as well as others – use and compare the data that Formas holds. The categorisation also makes it easier for us to provide a more nuanced view of our research portfolio and how well it addresses societal challenges.

Integrate climate and environmental considerations into your project

We at Formas are very keen to fund projects that maximise positive and minimise negative impacts on the environment and climate. We therefore encourage grant applicants to design their projects so that collaboration takes place primarily through online meetings and that any necessary travel takes place in a climate-smart way. We also suggest that you include measures that minimise energy use and other resource consumption, emissions and waste in project planning. However, this will not be part of the assessment of your application at this time. Please read about Formas’ own sustainability work.

Support to address the grounds of assessment for societal relevance and communication

Below we have formulated a number of questions to assist you in addressing the grounds of assessment for societal relevance and communication. The same questions are used to support the review panels evaluating the applications.

Communication is one of several tools for making research and the results of research available, thereby creating societal relevance. We want to know how your project interacts with other actors and in what context your research project is significant for those you think will benefit from it. In other words, who you want to communicate with.

We would like to emphasise that societal relevance and communication go hand in hand. You therefore need to describe in what way you will communicate the project during the time the project is running and who your target groups are. We also want you to tell us how you intend to communicate when the project has been completed or is possibly continued.

The purpose of the support below is to give you as an applicant the prerequisites to describe in what way and in what context you will communicate your project.

It might be relevant to think about communication in three dimensions, even though all dimensions may not be relevant to your project. We want you to describe what is of importance for your project.

The three dimensions are:

  1. Information - that is, to make information available. This can be done by, for example, publishing information about the project on a website, disseminating information in social media, or printing fact sheets that can be distributed.
  2. Customised messages - that is, to make targeted efforts that consider the contexts in which your messages are to be received. Who do you turn to and how do you do it? It can be about meeting industry associations, decision makers and/or county administrative boards, sending a press release or other ways of making targeted communication efforts.
  3. Co-creation - that is, to exchange knowledge and insights about the project with others in order to listen, contribute and, if necessary, reconsider one's own standpoints together with other actors. This can occur, for example, in meetings with decision makers, industry organisations and county administrative boards or with representatives of civil society.

Relevant questions to address

Aims and objectives

  • Who do you need to have an exchange with when the project is running?
  • What do you want to achieve? Is it making it available, spreading the word or co-creating? We want to know what you are aiming to do, not what you want to achieve with different efforts.

Recipient/target group for the project's communication

  • Who will you reach when the project is running and in what way may you and the project benefit from these contacts?
  • Who are the recipients of the results and how are you going to reach them?

Report any ethical considerations

You should specify whether there are specific ethical concerns in your project. If so, state what these ethical concerns are and how you plan to manage them. Examples include research that uses personal data or research involving experiments on humans or animals.

When you need to obtain ethical approval

If you are conducting research on people, human tissue or sensitive personal data, you must obtain ethical approval from the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. If you are conducting an animal experiment, you also need to obtain ethical approval. You can apply for approval through the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s online service.

You should state in your application whether or not you have obtained ethical approval. If you do not have approval, you should apply for it as soon as possible.

You should have the approval before the research begins.

Ethical approval is the institution’s responsibility

The institution where the research is to be conducted, such as a university or college, is responsible for obtaining ethical approval before the work begins. This is something Formas requires when we grant funding for research that requires approval. The representative of the institution confirms this by signing the application.

If you do not expect ethical concerns

Even if you do not expect your research to involve ethical concerns, you should state that this is the case in your application and explain why.  

Applications are public documents

According to Swedish law, your application and its appendices are considered as general public documents once they have been submitted to us. This means that anyone can request and read your application. Before we disclose any applications we always conduct a confidentiality assessment, but we can only hide information as legislated for in the Public Access and Secrecy Act (2009:400).

We publish our decisions online

We publish our funding decisions on our website. The decisions include the name of the project manager and the administrating organisation (the organisation receiving the grant from Formas).

We inform people about your research

We inform people about the research we fund by using the popular science description from your application. So, make sure not to write about things you want to keep secret in this description. This can be the case when you want to apply for a patent, for example.

We provide information to third parties

We provide information to the Swedish Research Council on the grants we award. They register and publish the information in SweCRIS, a national database of grant-funded research External link.. The purpose of publication is to communicate Swedish research findings and to enable statistical analyses. The SweCRIS may, in turn, might forward the information to the administrating organisation for the grant in question. It is also possible to search directly in the database on the SweCRIS website.

What information is forwarded?

The information we forward includes:

  • Information about the call
  • Information from the application
  • Information about project managers and participating researchers
  • Information on decisions taken regarding the application.

Please note that personal identity numbers and contact details are not displayed publicly.

It is optional to provide your data to SweCRIS

It is optional to allow your information to be collected and published in SweCRIS. If you do not want your information to be forwarded there, please contact us.

Right to request a register extract

If you are registered in SweCRIS, you have the right to request a register extract to check which data is registered about you. The Swedish Research Council is responsible for data processing in SweCRIS and is required to correct erroneous data when you (as a so-called “data subject”) request it. Contact to find out which information of yours has been collected and registered.

Rules for completing and submitting an application

You cannot register an application in our application system after the call is closed. You cannot complete your application or make changes to it after the call is closed. However, before it closes you can make changes to your application depending on whether the call is open throughout the year (if it is an ongoing call), or if it is open only for a limited period.

If you are applying for funding in an ongoing call, you cannot make changes to your application after you have registered it in our application system.

If you are applying for funding in a call that only receives applications during a specific period, you can change or supplement your application even after you have registered it as long as the call is still open. When the call closes, all registered applications are submitted automatically. After that, you cannot make any changes or complete your application.

You can always revoke an application if you change your mind and do not want to apply for funding.

Open access to research results and data

We believe it is important that research results can be read and downloaded for free. We also want scientific data to be openly available to the public. That is why we require you to publish your research results using open access.

Publish using the CC BY license

To publish an open access article, you need to publish it using a Creative Commons license. Use the license type named CC BY. Under this license, the copyright is retained by the authors. Also, you as an author allow others to freely use, adapt, build upon or distribute your article as long as they credit you as the author. The CC BY license is a standard open license that several international organisations recommend. Read more on the Creative Commons website. External link.

Stricter rules underway

Together with other funders, Formas has signed an agreement on stricter rules for open access to research results, the so-called Plan S. The aim of the stricter rules is to make research results openly accessible directly at the time of publication. The tightened rules are scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2021.

The main difference from previous rules is that Formas no longer supports publishing in journals that apply delayed open access. Read more below about how this impacts you as an applicant for funding from Formas.

The stricter rules apply to articles that have been accepted for publication in scientific journals, conference reports or on publishing platforms. The rules do not apply to publication in monographs and anthologies.

Your articles should be published using immediate open access and a CC BY license. You can publish in one of the following ways:

    • In an open-access journal or on an open-access platform
    • In a subscription journal with simultaneous publication in open-access archives or repositories (parallel publishing)
    • In a journal that is part of a transformative agreement.

    Publication costs

    If you intend to publish in a full open-access journal, you can apply for funding to cover the cost this might entail. You do this in the project application you submit. This is a cost that qualifies as an operating cost.

    For journals with transformative agreements, the cost of publication is prepaid by higher education institutions and other organisations. You will not incur any publication costs if the organisation you belong to has a transformative agreement. Contact your institution’s library for information on which journals the school has an agreement with.

    Formas does not fund publishing in locked subscription journals

    Formas will no longer cover the cost of publishing in subscription journals for which the author or institution can pay a fee to unlock the article so that it becomes openly accessible after a delay.

    If you received funding in a call that opened before 1 January 2021, the research results must be published using open access with a maximum delay of six months. If you first publish your results without open access, you must make them available within six months of the date of publication. Either this is done by archiving a version of an already published article in an open searchable archive no later than six months after publication, or by publishing in a journal that applies open access.

    Publication costs

    Journals that have open-access publication, either immediate or delayed, are funded by authors who pay a fee instead of readers paying a subscription fee. You can include publication costs in your application as operating costs.

    For journals with transformative agreements, the cost of publication is prepaid by higher education institutions and other organisations. You will not incur any publication costs if the organisation you belong to has a transformative agreement. Contact your institution’s library for information on which journals the school has an agreement with.

    More information about open access

    If you are affiliated with a higher education institution, you can contact the school’s library for more information. The libraries have databases and staff who can give you practical tips and advice on questions concerning open access to scientific publications. Contact your institution for information on how to publish using open access.

    As tasked by the government, the National Library of Sweden coordinates the implementation of open access to scientific publications. For more information, visit their website. External link.

    Make scientific data available

    You should make data and metadata from projects that we fund openly available in databases. You can do this either nationally or internationally, and as long as it does not conflict with any law such as the Public Access and Secrecy Act (2009:400) or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    Data management plan

    You must have a data management plan that describes how the data produced in the project will be managed after the project ends. The plan does not need to be submitted to us unless specifically requested in the current call text, but you should be able to present it on request. If your administrating organisation does not have its own data management plan, we recommend that you use the Swedish Research Council’s data management plan template External link.. Please use the Swedish National Data Service’s checklist External link. to formulate your data management plan.

    In Science Europe’s Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management External link., you can learn more about how to best organise and store your research data.

    No requirement for rights to the results

    We do not require any ownership or access rights to your research results or other results. However, we assume that you will comply with intellectual property provisions, such as copyright and patent law. This also applies to international laws and agreements in the projects, where relevant.

    Keep in mind that if you are one of several collaborating researchers, you need to agree amongst yourselves on how to distribute the rights to your results.

    Updated:9 March 2022
    Page manager: Linda Bergqvist Ampel