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 concern 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
  • The purpose must be aligned with the call.

The assessors also look favourably upon:

  • Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches as they relate to the current research topic.
  • A consideration of gender equality or other critical perspectives in the topic where relevant.

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 method
  • The novelty of the method
  • Whether the execution plan and timetable are well-defined and realistic
  • Whether the publication and communication plan is well-defined and realistic
  • The coordination of the project and research group
  • The appropriateness of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, if these are chosen
  • Whether the proposed research requires ethical considerations and how the applicant plans to take these into account
  • The reasonableness of the budget in relation to the project’s organisation and expected results.

Of these points above, the feasibility and suitability of the scientific method carry the most weight.

Here, the review panel weighs the following:

  • Scientific quality of publications
  • Ability to complete the project according to plan
  • Experience as a supervisor
  • Project management experience
  • National and international activities, including projects, networks, assignments, honorary assignments, and participation in or arranging workshops or conferences
  • Interest, experience and ability to communicate the research and research results with stakeholders and 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 topic involves important issues in society or a sector covered by the call, nationally or internationally (or both).
  2. The project can contribute in the short or long term to sustainable development, nationally or internationally (or both).
  3. The project design takes into account the needs of stakeholders and/or users.
  4. The purpose of the research must be aligned with the call.

Taking into account the needs of stakeholders or users can include references to directives, environmental objectives, the global Sustainable Development Goals and related strategies, 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 Goalsexternal 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.

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.  

Consider gender and other critical perspectives

We are tasked with promoting gender equality perspectives and other critical perspectives that interact with them when we grant funding. If you are applying for funds from Formas, you should always consider whether questions relating to gender and other related perspectives are applicable to the project’s research questions. Other related perspectives might include class or ethnicity, for example. In your application, you must describe how these perspectives will be handled in the project.

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 researchexternal 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 swecris@forskning.se 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

It is important for us 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 via open access.

Publish with open access

If you first publish your results without open access, you must make them available within six months of the date of publication. Open access requirements apply only to peer-reviewed articles in journals and conference reports, not to monographs or book chapters.

To comply with open access requirements, you can publish your results in:

  • Journals that are openly accessible to all
  • Journals that archive published articles in major public databases or in open searchable databases
  • The university’s own database for online articles.

Publish using the CC BY license

If you pay an article processing charge (APC) to publish an open access article, you should publish it using a Creative Commons license. Use the license type named CC BY. This means that people who use, reproduce or distribute your articles must state that you are the creator. The CC BY license is the standard license that several international organisations recommend.

Read more on the Creative Commons websiteexternal link

Publication costs

Journals that publish with open access are funded by the authors who pay a fee instead of the readers paying a subscription fee.

You can include publication costs in your application as operating costs.

New rules underway

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 available directly at the time of publication. The rules are provisionally valid beginning in 2020.

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).

Keep a data management plan

You need to have a data management plan for the data produced in the project. If you receive funding, you need to develop a plan for data management. The plan should not be sent in to us but you should be able to present the plan upon request. We recommend that you follow the guidelines for data management plans developed by Science Europe. Read more about the guidelines in the report Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management (pdf)external link

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.

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Page manager: Linda Bergqvist Ampel
Updated:27 May 2019