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Application Processing

The Research Council receives roughly 5 000 applications each year. Applications undergo detailed administrative processing relevant to the specific type of application and subject field.

Notification of received applications

Immediately after an application is received, the Research Council sends notification of receipt by email to the person who has submitted the application, as well as to the project administrator at the institution/company responsible for the project. 

Registration and confirmation

The application will be registered in the Research Council’s administrative system and forwarded to the programme/activity under which funding has been sought. After the application has been registered, formal confirmation of receipt will be sent by email to the applicant (the project administrator at the institution/company). This email will include the name of the case officer and the project number assigned to the application.

Rejection of grant applications on formal grounds

After a grant application has been registered, it is checked to ensure that it satisfies all the formal requirements stipulated in the call for proposals (including those pertaining to attachments). Grant applications that do not satisfy these requirements will be rejected on formal grounds.

Applicants will be notified that the application has been rejected, and are entitled to lodge a complaint if they contend that the decision is based on a procedural error, a fundamental deficiency or shortcoming in the grounds underlying the exercise of academic or expert discretion or inaccurate factual information. Complaints must be submitted to the Research Council within three weeks after notification of the rejection of a grant application has been received. For more information, please see: Complaints procedures

Assessment of grant applications

A grant application responds to a call for proposals and is dealt with under the programme/activity responsible for issuing the call. In some cases there may be other programmes/activities that will be relevant for the proposal as well. It is up to the applicant to ensure that grant applications are submitted to all appropriate programmes/activities.

Grant applications are assessed in relation to the assessment criteria and requirements stipulated in the call for proposals and relevant for the specific application type.

Normally, applications will be reviewed by external expert referees, individually or in referee panels, before the final decisions regarding grant awards are taken. Allocation decisions are usually taken by the programme boards, expert committees or research board of the relevant Research Council division.
The referees will assess the applications in relation to the assessment criteria established for the relevant application type and/or set out in the call for proposals. A scale of marks of either seven or three levels will be applied, depending on the type of application and stipulations of the call for proposals. The following levels of quality apply in relation to the assessment criteria:

Scale of marks (seven levels):
7 – Exceptional
6 - Excellent
5 – Very good
4 - Good
3 - Fair
2 - Weak
1 - Poor

Scale of marks (three levels):
A – Very good
B - Good
C - Weak

Applications that are externally reviewed are assessed either by a panel comprising several experts or by at least two individual referees. If the opinions of the two individuals consulted are widely divergent, the Research Council may call in a third expert to assess the application. To ensure maximum uniformity in the application of the assessment grading scale, referees are requested to review more than one grant proposal in so far as possible.

When there is more than one grant proposal to be assessed within the same subject field, it is beneficial to use a referee panel. Experience shows that this leads to a qualitatively better review process because the panel members work together to reach a unified, consensus-based assessment, and thus achieve a greater degree of consistency than when individual referees assess multiple grant applications on their own. In many cases, the panels are also asked to provide a ranking of the best grant applications, which is a means of further ensuring the consistency of the assessment process. The use of panels contra individual experts may mean there is less specifically targeted expertise available for the assessment of certain grant applications. However, the Research Council considers it most important to retain the overall breadth of expertise of the panel participants, as this provides a sound basis for viewing competing applications in relation to each other.

Applicants may themselves recommend specific external experts to serve as referees. The Research Council is under no obligation to comply with such recommendations, and no application will be subject solely to the review of experts proposed by the applicant. Applicants may also notify the Research Council of any objections (with appropriate grounds) that they might have regarding the use of a specific expert. It should be noted that the Research Council is not required to take such objections into account. 

A list of all referees (individuals and members of the panels) used to review the grant applications submitted in connection with a call for proposals is available here.

Information regarding the referees that have assessed a specific application will be provided in the feedback to the relevant applicant. This information is also available upon direct request.

Impartiality in application assessment

The Research Council has drawn up clearly defined rules regarding impartiality in connection with assessment of grant proposals.

Feedback on outcome

After the assessment process is completed, a list of all grant applications that have been awarded funding will be published. The list will contain the project title and name of the Project Owner (institution/company). 

The Research Council strives to provide input on the submitted application’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as information that may prove helpful in connection with future grant proposals. For innovation projects, applicants will receive an overview of the marks assigned to their application in relation to the various criteria assessed, and the general mark given to the grant application. For other application types, applicants will receive the comments obtained from the referees/panel. The feedback will also include information about where to find the list with the names of referees/members of the panel used in the assessment process. This information is also available upon request.

In accordance with Norwegian law, expert referee assessments may no longer be considered exempt from public disclosure once feedback has been sent out. This means that other interested parties also have the right to see the assessment if they submit a request to do so. Before such third-party access is granted, the Research Council must exempt from public disclosure all information that is subject to duty to secrecy, and may also exempt all specific information relating to research ideas and the research project itself.

More information regarding application processing is available from the contact person stipulated for the relevant programme/activity.


Contracts will be signed for the projects that receive allocations. The contract consists of an agreement document, a project summary and the Research Council's general terms and conditions for R&D projects. The general terms and conditions for R&D projects are available on the Research Council website or by conventional mail delivery in the two written forms of Norwegian (standard Bokmål and Nynorsk) as well as English.

Complaints about administrative procedures

An applicant whose funding proposal has been rejected, and who contends that a procedural error or a fundamental deficiency or shortcoming in the manner in which the Research Council has exercised its expert discretion has occurred during the processing of applications, is entitled to submit a complaint. Read more about the complaints procedures and the Appeals Committee.