“Exploring ways to reduce bias in grant-allocation process”

In recent years various government research-funding agencies around the globe observed the need to make the research-funding process more objective [1]. For instance, some government research-funding agencies start to ban the nomination of reviewers due to the fact that the nominated reviews favoured the applicants. Other solutions to remove bias in grant-allocation process were also proposed, such as draw lots to make grant decisions when choosing between applications of similar quality or removing the conventional grant review system and installing a new system for supporting research based on “universal basic income” [2]. While there is no perfect research-funding process, it is important to understand the differences between various government research-funding agencies and the reasons behind applying a specific research-funding process.

We will meet Dr. Hans Willems. He is Secretary General of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and by training an historian. His PhD covers the liberalization of the Belgian stock exchange(s) in the 19th century. After his studies at the VUB, he got his PhD at UAntwerpen. In 2007 he joined the staff of FWO, the main funder of fundamental and basic strategic research in Flanders. First as policy advisor and since 2010 as director Research Policy. He is chairman of the Finance Committee and member of the General Assembly of Science Europe, member of EWI-MC, Steering Committee member of the EU-Platform and observer of Hermesbeslissingscomité. The title of his presentation is “The selection of experts and the evaluation of applicants by the Research Foundation Flanders – FWO”.



[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01232-3

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05887-3


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