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NIH Biosketch: NIH Biosketch

Created by Health Science Librarians

Format Updates to the NIH Biosketch

NIH and AHRQ require a new biosketch format for applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015.

Key changes include:

  • Extending the biosketch page limit from four pages to five pages
  • Allowing researchers to included up to four references in their personal statement
  • Allowing researchers to describe up to five of their most important contributions to science
  • Allowing researchers to include a link that provides access to a full list of your published work (peer-reviewed, non-peer reviewed and accepted for publication)

Old Format

New Format

Summary of Biosketch Changes

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")


Biosketch Clarifications Effective on/after May 25, 2016

NEW: These Biosketch clarifications are effective for applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2016.

  • Including a URL for a publication list in a biosketch is optional and, if provided, it must be to a government website (.gov) like My Bibliography. (Google Scholar is not allowed as previously suggested by NIH FAQ wording)
  • Publications (peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed) and research products may be cited in both the personal statement and the contributions to science sections. (Prior to May 25, 2016 applications, only peer-reviewed publications were allowed to be cited in the personal statement section of the biosketch.)
  • Explicitly stating that graphics, figures and tables are not allowed.  (This was previously not addressed in biosketch information.)


What is Required in the NIH Biosketch?

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)
    • May now include up to four peer-reviewed publications that specifically highlight your experience and qualifications for the project.  Effective with May 25, 2016 applications, the Personal Statement section may also include non-peer reviewed publications and other research products. (updated 11/17/15)
    • 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; see Details below for the types of content that can be cited in this section
    • Link to a full list of their published work as found in a publicly available digital database; NCBI's My Bibliography is recommended (about My Bibliography) Effective with May 25, 2016 applications, the URL for the full publication list must be to a government website (.gov) like. My Bibliography. (updated 11/17/15)
      • Including this link is currently optional
      • No other links/URLs may be allowed in the biosketch or application (updated 2/6/15)
      • The online bibliography link/URL may be either active (clickable) or not active. (added 2/6/15)
      • Whether active or inactive, the link/URL to the online bibliography must be spelled out (http:// etc) and cannot be hyperlinked text/words. (added 2/6/15)
      • 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 the old biosketch. (updated 2/6/15)
  4. Research Support (unchanged)

Details on New Components

1. 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. Keynote addresses, conference presentations, and posters can count as research products for the Contribution to Science section. (added 11/17/15)
  • The description of each contribution must be no longer than one half page including citations and figuresEffective with May 25, 2016 applications, graphics, figures and tables are not allowed. (added 11/17/15)

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

  • Start putting together your online bibliography as soon as possible. My Bibliography (in My NCBI) is the tool that NIH recommends:
    • My Bibliography in your My NCBI account: Use the sharing feature to create a public link to your works that you can add to your biosketch (created using either the online SciENcv tool or the NIH Word template). 
    • Alternatives to My Bibliography? (From NIH Biosketch FAQ #4):

"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 link is optional.

NIH cautions reviewers against accessing URLs that may compromise their anonymity. The NIH prefers applicants use My Bibliography because the NIH can assure reviewers that their anonymity will be protected if they review publications at that site.
Use of a publicly available database other than My Bibliography is at the discretion of the applicant, but applicants should bear in mind that reviewers are unlikely to click on unknown links. These links must be accessible to the general public without registration and must not point to informational websites that may violate page limit rules (NOT-OD-11-080).

For these reasons, linking to a lab or researcher's site would be inappropriate."

  • URL Construction (if inserting the link into Word template; My NCBI handles URL construction automatically)
    • Spell the URL out in full, beginning with ‘http://’ (e.g.,
    • 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. (added 2/6/15)

New Biosketch Creation Tools

  • SciENcv: This is a new online tool that is designed to create biosketches for NIH grant applications. This tool eliminates the need to repeatedly enter biosketch information. SciENcv will output a biosketch in Word, PDF or XML formats. NOTE: It is recommended that you set up your My Bibliography first.  See SciENcv details below.
  • NIH Templates (Word): NIH has created new biosketch templates in Microsoft Word for use by those who wish to create in Word and then convert to PDF for submission.


NIH Biosketch Contents Details

For more instructions, a blank format page, and sample Biosketches, go to the NIH Biosketch page.

Biographical Sketch

Positions and Honors, Contribution to Science, Research Support

Scholastic Performance

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 NCBI My Bibliography account. An ORCID ID can be linked as well to provide a unique author identifier.  SciENcv currently includes templates for the new NIH biosketch format 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:

  1. Sign into My NCBI.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 "NIH BIosketch" as the type of profile (the other choice is "NSF Biosketch (alpha)"
    • 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. 
  4. Select "Create." Now your My Bibliography references and eRA commons both linked to the new profile and can be used to generate a biosketch.
  5. Fill out your biosketch profile, and choose citations to include from your My Bibliography collection.
  6. Share or download your biosketch by using the URL or PDF.