Experienced Water Postdoc Fellowship COFUND Programme
Fellowships for International Water and Development Academic Career Advancement

Selection & Review process

The process of eligibility and evaluation will contain the following steps: 
  1. Eligibility check
  2. International peer-review by remote evaluation
  3. Structured Skype interviews by interview panel 
  4. Final selection and approval by the IHE Delft Extended Rectorate and coordinator of the COFUND programme

Overall responsibility for the evaluation process

The evaluation process will be organised by the Programme Coordinator and Programme Manager. The Programme Coordinator carries overall responsibility for the organization of the evaluation process. The Programme Manager is responsible for setting up and maintaining the database from which evaluators will be selected. The Programme Coordinator is responsible for allocating specific proposals to specific evaluators.

A series of phases will operate towards selection of fellowships.

Phase 1: Eligibility Criteria

In order to be considered eligible, the applicant has to deliver a complete application within the deadline. The complete application comprises: 
  • Proof of possession of a doctoral degree, awarded no more than 6 years prior the deadline for applications, unless meeting the criteria for a prolongation as described in the Guide to Applicants and below. 
  • Proposed research topics that fall within the research lines of UNESCO-IHE Chair Groups
  • Proof that candidates have not have lived in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years prior to the application deadline
  • Signed online application package including ethics declaration
Eligible individuals are experienced researchers, who at the time of recruitment by UNESCO-IHE should be in possession of a doctoral degree awarded no more than 6 years prior to deadline for applications. During the evaluation of the applicant's career track and time since obtaining a doctorate degree, eligible career breaks that are properly documented with official documents of employers, doctors, etc. will be taken into consideration. Eligible career breaks are: maternity, paternity, long-term illness (over 90 days) or care taker leave for a sick relative (over 90 days), and disabilities (over 90 days).

If a PhD and has completed all research requirements but not yet received the degree, then the university needs to confirm this in writing. The doctoral degree should be obtained by the time a contract is signed.

Prolongation of the 6 year timeframe is for:
  • Women and parents with children: one additional year per child can be claimed up to a maximum of 3 years (e.g. they can start the programme max. 9 years after their doctorate degree award)
  • Other justified and documented career breaks are disease(s), disabilities or care taker leave. Prolongation of the period of the break will be given (e.g. in case of sickness or caretaker leave of 1 year they can start the programme max. 7 years after doctorate degree was awarded).
These leave forms need to be documented or confirmed in writing by, for example, a (medical) specialist /doctor or (former) employer.

Phase 2: Evaluation Criteria International peer-review by remote evaluation

Evaluation scores will be given for each of five criteria. The selection panel will consider relevant issues in their assessment of the criteria. They also act as reminders of issues to be raised later during the discussions of the proposal. Each criterion will receive a score between 0 and 5. Scores will be given with a resolution of one decimal place. The scores indicate the following with respect to the criterion under examination:
0- The proposal fails to address the criterion under examination or cannot be judged due to missing or incomplete information
1- Poor. The criterion is addressed in an inadequate manner, or there are serious inherent weaknesses.
2- Fair. While the proposal broadly addresses the criterion, there are significant weaknesses.
3- Good. The proposal addresses the criterion well, although improvements are necessary.
4- Very Good. The proposal addresses the criterion very well, although certain improvements are still possible.
5- Excellent. The proposal successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion in question. Any shortcomings are minor.
After the remote evaluation, only those applications that have achieved a total score over 65% of the possible highest mark will be considered further. This will be through an interview by Skype.

Phase 3: Structured video interviews by interview panel

A 60-min long structured interview, comprising a 20 minute presentation followed by questions, will be done through Skype. Interviews will start with an introduction of the interviewers and the applicant, followed by a presentation of the research project, discussion (Q&A) on the research project, explanation by the applicant on how the project fits into the research agenda of the relevant chair group(s), motivation of the applicant on why they want to conduct this particular research with UNESCO-IHE and how the research project fits into the applicants career plans. The following scoring scheme for Phase 3 will apply:

The score definitions will be outlined in the evaluation report as follows: 
 1: very insufficient                        6:   good 
 2: insufficient                               7:   very good 
 3: below average                          8:   extremely good 
 4: average                                   9:   excellent 
 5: above average                       10:  outstanding 
For English fluency: 
 a: insufficient 
 b: sufficient 
 c: good 
 d: fluent 
The interview panel will comprise three suitably qualified researchers. All proposals will be evaluated by 2 remote reviewers and one internal reviewer. Interdisciplinary proposals are welcome and in such cases evaluators will be selected so as to be able to cover the disciplines, and their interfaces, addressed in the proposal.

All interviewers' scores, based on the interview and subsequent discussion, count equally.

Phase 4: Final selection by UNESCO-IHE

Following completion of all interviews, a ranking list will be produced by the Programme Coordinator, taking into account only the outcomes of the interview. The ranking list, produced after the interview phase, will be provided to the selection committee comprising the COFUND Programme Coordinator and UNESCO-IHE Extended Rectorate for final approval. Final selection of fellows may deviate from the selection of the interview panel based on legitimate academic grounds or where there was clear and substantive divergence in scores provided by the interview panel. All such cases will be carefully deliberated and well documented.


Appeal/Redress procedure

The applicant may wish to introduce a request for redress, after having received the outcome of the evaluation with the evaluation report and the results of the eligibility check. The redress procedure is not meant to call into question the scientific judgement made by the review panel, but it will look at procedural shortcomings and factual errors. Such requests for redress should be raised within one month after the issuing date of the rejecting letter containing details and feedback on the outcome eligibility check or of the evaluation process. A request for redress should be sent to the Rector of UNESCO-IHE via the EWPFP COFUND Programme email address. The outcome of the redress will be communicated via email to the applicant.


Ethical issues are being checked at three stages: application, evaluation and project implementation. Unethical research is one that would fall under one or more of the following categories: uniformed consent, research on embryo/foetus, involvement of processing of genetic information or personal data and/or research on animals. 
Applicants will be informed through the guidelines for applicants and on the application form that they must indicate when one of the following issues applies to their proposal: human embryonic stem cells, informed consent, privacy and data protection, dual use, research in developing countries and research on animals.
The applicant will find the necessary information about the definition and the procedures in order to obtain the necessary certificates to comply with the national and FP 7 rules at the website and the Call for Applicants. The applicant will be informed that no part of the research can start unless all necessary licences are obtained. Additionally, s/he has to fill in a standardized template in the application file in order to check and inform about research parts in the proposal which involve ethical issues. The programme manager will follow up on these issues and make sure that they are taken into account in the evaluation, the project implementation and in the reporting towards the Research Executive Agency (REA). The beneficiary takes care that the implementation of ethical parts of fellowship does not start without all necessary certificates.
The evaluators (remote evaluators, the evaluators of the interview panel and the Extended Rectorate) shall be informed by the Programme Manager about the definition of ethics and the necessary follow-up.  
If at any time during the entire life cycle of the programme any doubt arises vis a vis ethics in the research, the Extended Rectorate will be immediately consulted and may decide to cease the project for this reason.

Specific procedures for the use of human embryonic stem cells

UNESCO-IHE does not conduct research using human embryonic stem cells, and applicants using these techniques will be deemed ineligible.

Conflict of interest

Any conflicts of interests involving applicants, UNESCO-IHE staff and evaluators must be declared. Conflicts of interest include:

  • having had a joint research or co-published papers with scientists involved in the evaluation process or hosts or foreseen scientist in charge for the fellowship within the past 5 years prior to the deadline of the call,
  • cases, in which the scientist has an interest in the research outcome for economic reasons (support from a commercial entity, investments),
  • family bonds
  • having shared the employer in the past 5 years.

The programme manager shall make this check and carefully review candidates’ CV for past employment before allocating proposals to be reviewers. Scientists involved in the evaluation shall be informed in writing about the precise definition of conflict of Interest of the programme. They shall sign a corresponding paper, excluding conflict of interest which contains also the procedural follow-up with the administrative Programme Coordinator.

Applicants are informed about conflict of interest through the EWPFP website and may contact the programme manager in case of doubt. Experts are also given a link to the website but are additionally informed by the programme manager. In case of doubt or proven conflict of interest, the programme manager shall seek a replacement of an evaluator – and, in case the evaluation has to be postponed, about the measures taken. The programme manager ensures an evaluation and selection process based on an open, fair and transparent competition among the applicants.