A biosketch is a common grant proposal element used by external sponsors to asses a researcher’s professional background in relation to the project. The biosketch depicts, in brief, chronological form, the PI’s professional accomplishments.

The bio should tell the story of an individual’s expertise to carry out the specific project. Sponsors typically request that PIs edit their list to highlight experiences relevant to the proposal. Bios of all senior/key personnel involved in the project are typically required elements.

Reminders

  • Use an approved format
  • Synergistic activities should be distinct activities, not categories with lists of sub-activities
  • List any titled academic, professional, or institutional position whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary).

Templates

Use of an NSF-approved format  is required for proposals submitted or due on or after October 1, 2020.

Using SciENcv for NSF Bio, C&P

SciENcv can streamline the way you produce your NSF Bio, Current & Pending, and NIH Bio documents.

Who must submit a Biosketch?

Each person designated as senior personnel on the proposal, including non-Co-PI senior personnel, must submit a Biosketch at the time of the proposal.

Learn more about the NSF definition of senior personnel.

What must be included in the NSF Biosketch?

Standard sections of the NSF Biosketch template include:

a. Professional preparation – a list in chronological order of individual’s undergraduate and graduate education and postdoctoral training (including location)

b. Appointments – A list, in reverse chronological order by start date of all the individual’s academic, professional, or institutional appointments, beginning with the current appointment. Appointments include any titled academic, professional, or institutional position whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary).
Read: Disclosure and Reporting Requirements for International Research Partnerships and Collaborations

c.i.  Products most closely related to the proposed project (5 max)

c.ii. Other Significant Products, whether or not related to the project. (5 max)

Product examples: publications, data sets, software, patents, and copyrights.

d. Synergistic Activities (5 max) List five distinct examples that demonstrate the broader impact of the individual’s professional and scholarly activities that focus on the integration and transfer of knowledge as well as its creation.

Synergistic activities must not include multiple examples of the same type of activity to further describe the activity.
Example: If one lists peer review for NSF, NIH and DOE, each named instance would count toward the five allowed activities. One may, however, may mention peer review for federal agencies as a single activity.

Disclosing Foreign Affiliations in the Biosketch

What do foreign collaborations and research support have to do with the NSF Bio?
In recent years, documents like the C&P, Biosketch, Facilities documents in a proposal and the annual report have become increasingly important tools for disclosing one’s research affiliation with institutions outside the U.S. This comes as a time when the security of U.S.-funded intellectual property has received more attention.

Note NSF PAPPG II.C.2.f, guidance on which appointments to list in the Bio:

Appointments: “include any titled academic, professional, or institutional position whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary).”

Issues surrounding foreign influence and international activities in federally funded research has been an evolving topic, in which the U.S. Government has shown increasing concern. These concerns include:

  • Diversion of intellectual property to foreign entities;
  • Disclosure of confidential grant application information by NSF peer reviewers to third parties;
  • Failure of researchers to disclose research resources and support provided by other organizations, including foreign entities.

Agency attention on this issue is outlined in the OVCR’s website Disclosure and Reporting Requirements for International Research Partnerships and Collaborations.

Investigators are encouraged to stay abreast of agency updates and requirements for proposal documents and award documents in order to best comply with these reporting requirements.

Resources

Disclosure and Reporting Requirements for International Research Partnerships and Collaborations.

NSF Biosketch Policy (PAPPG II.C.2.f).

What is an NSF-approved format?

According to the 2020 Proposal & Award Policies & Procedure Guide (PAPPG), NSF 20-1, one must submit a Current & Pending form in “an NSF-approved” format. The format must be used in proposal submitted or due on or after October 5th, 2020.

Approved formats for creating current & pending support are:

  1. SciENcv – SciENcv will produce NSF-compliant PDF versions of the biosketch format. Proposers must save these documents and submit them as part of their proposals via FastLane, Research.gov or Grants.gov.
    Proposers may also user their SciENcv account to create NIH biosketches and the NSF Current & Pending form.
    Read FAQs on using SciENcv.
  2. NSF Fillable PDF –  NSF is providing a fillable PDF of the biosketch format. Proposers can download the form form the NSF Biosketch website, complete the form, and upload as part of their proposal via FastLane, Research.gov or Grants.gov.
    Read FAQs on using the fillable PDF.
NSF-Approved Format Tips & Considerations
  • The fields on the fillable PDF form have character limits.  SciENcv  is suggested for more flexibility.
  • Use “et al.” in author lists for publication citations to stay within 2-page limit. This applies to both approved formats. SciENcv will soon feature an “Edit authors” link, which will allow the truncation of the author list on a version of the biosketch while maintaining the full citation in the faculty member’s SciENcv profile for future use.
  • The fillable PDF template may not be altered in any way. Information must be typed or copied and pasted into the NSF template. Any other PDF or alterations to the NSF form will generate an error message upon submission.
  • SciENcv requires a greater initial time investment, but may prove more efficient in the long term.
    Once faculty have created and maintained their linked accounts, many biosketch and support documents can be generated with a few clicks.
Using SciENcv to Produce NIH and NSF Biosketches

Read our Tipsheet on Using SciENcv for Biosketches and Current & Pending Documents.

NSF Agency Guide
Training