April 8, 2015

What You Need to Know about the New NIH Biosketch Format

When must you use the new NIH biosketch format?

According to NIH notice #NOT-OD-15-032the new biosketch format is mandatory for all research, training, and career development grants with due dates on or after May 25, 2015.

What’s different about the new format?

  • The new format allows investigators to include a link to a complete listing of their publications in SciENcv or My Bibliography.
  • It allows researchers to describe up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research.
  • Researchers may list up to four relevant peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research products for each scientific contribution.
  • The new biosketch format allows up to 20 publications and/or other non-publication research products.

Summary of Biosketch Changes

Old Format New Format
4-page limit 5-page limit
Personal statement Personal statement + up to 4 references
5 contributions to Science + up to 4 references for each contribution
15 selected references Up to 24 selected references
Link to online bibliography (“in a publicly available digital database”)

What types of non-publication research products are acceptable?

Acceptable non-publication research products may include audio or video products; patents; data and research materials; databases; educational aids or curricula; instruments or equipment; models; protocols; and software or netware that are relevant to the described contribution.

What tools can I use to create my biosketch?

Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv), which serves as an interagency system designed to create biosketches for multiple federal agencies, supports the current NIH and NSF biosketch formats.  Use of SciENcv is not required, but encouraged by the NIH. SciENcv is currently being updated to support the new NIH biosketch format.

Additional Information

The biosketch format includes four major sections. The Contributions to Science section is a new required section that may optionally include references and a link to your complete bibliography.

1. Personal Statement (new options!)

1. May now include up to four peer-reviewed publications that specifically highlight your experience and qualifications for the project
2. May include a description of factors, e.g. family care responsibilities, illness, disability, active duty military service to explain impediments to past productivity

2. Position and Honors (unchanged)

3. Contributions to Science (new!; required)

• Include up to five contributions to science
• Include up to four references for each contribution
• Link to a full list of your published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as My Bibliography.

1. Including this link is currently optional
2. No other links/URLs may be allowed in the biosketch or application
3. The online bibliography link/URL may be either active (clickable) or not active.
4. Whether active or inactive, the link/URL to the online bibliography must be spelled out (http:// etc) and cannot be hyperlinked text/words.
5. This online bibliography link and the up to 24 references included in the Personal Statement and Contributions to Science sections replace the previous 15 reference bibliography used in biosketches.

4. Research Support (unchanged)


Contributions to Science

  • Briefly describe up to five of your most significant contributions to science. Be sure to include:

• the historical background that frames the scientific problem
• the central finding(s)
• the influence of the finding(s) on the progress of science or its application to health and technology
• your specific role in the described work

  • Each contribution can reference up to four peer-reviewed publications OR other non-publication research products including: audio or video products; patents; data and research materials; databases; educational aids or curricula; instruments or equipment; models; protocols; and software or netware.
  • The description of each contribution must be no longer than one half page including citations and figures.

URL to Complete List of Published Work (component of Contributions to Science section)

  • Start putting together your online bibliography as soon as possible. Here are a couple of tools that NIH recommends:

• My Bibliography in My NCBI: Use the sharing feature to link to your works.
• SciENcv: This is a new tool that is designed to create biosketches for NIH grant applications. This tool eliminates the need to repeatedly enter biosketch information. NOTE: It is recommended that you set up your My Bibliography first.

“Per NOT-OD-15-032, the new biosketch format allows applicants to include a link to a full list of their published work as found in a “publicly available digital database” such as My Bibliography.

The NIH prefers applicants use My Bibliography. NIH cautions reviewers against accessing URLs that may compromise their anonymity.

Other publicly available sites which include data from a broad spectrum of institutions and maintain anonymity of the users accessing the sites are acceptable (e.g., Google Scholar). Links to sites managed by the investigator or applicant organization or URLS including the applicant organization name should not be used.”

  • URL Construction

• Spell the URL out in full, beginning with ‘http://’ (e.g., http://grants.nih.gov/grants/oer.htm).
• Do NOT include the link as hyperlinked text (e.g., NIH Grants Web page) as eRA system processing will not retain the – active link in the assembled application image in eRA Commons.
• The online bibliography link/URL may be either active (clickable) or not active.

Using SciENcv to Create Biosketches

SciENcv is a new tool designed to help researchers complete biosketches efficiently. This tool will link to and pull in biographical information from your eRA Commons account (or other sources) and publications from your My Bibliography account. An ORCID ID can be linked as well to provide a unique author identifier.  SciENcv currently includes templates for both new and old NIH biosketch formats as well as for the NSF biosketch format. SciENcv will support additional biosketch formats in the future.

Why should I use SciENcv?

  • Eliminates the need to repeatedly enter the same information
  • The researcher can control the content and edit it as needed
  • Creates multiple profiles so each biosketch can be tweaked to support a particular grant application and funding agency
  • Export the results as a PDF or share via a URL
  • Grant access to other people (delegates) to view and manage your profiles

To create a biosketch using SciENcv, follow these steps:

  • Sign into My NCBI.
  • Find the SciENcv box located on the My NCBI home page.

• If this is your first use of SciENcv, select the link “Click here to create a new CV.”
• If you are a returning user, select the link “Manage SciENcv” and then select to “Create a new profile” or edit an existing profile.

  • When you create a new profile

• Select the second tab “From an external source.” Enter a name to identify the profile.  (You can also elect to create a  biosketch profile from scratch (1st tab) or from a copy of an existing profile (3rd tab).
• Choose “New NIH BIosketch” as the type of profile (other choices are “NIH Biosketch” and “NSF Biosketch”
• Select eRA Commons as the external source from which to pull in your biographical information. (Other choices are  ORCID or National Science Foundation)
• Choose whether to make your profile public or private.

  • Select “Create.” Now your My Bibliography references and eRA commons both linked to the new profile and can be used to generate a biosketch.
  • Fill out your biosketch profile, and choose citations to include from your My Bibliography collection.
  • Share or download your biosketch by using the URL or PDF.

Where can I get more information?

Biosketch FAQ
Biosketch Templates and Samples
How to Use My Bibliography (Detailed)
My Bibliography (Video)
How to Use SciENcv (Detailed)
SciENcv (Video)
Application Forms and Instructions