Like it or not, a new format for the NIH biosketch is still on the way, despite the postponement of the deadline from January 25 to May 25 when it will become mandatory for proposals.
Fundamentally, the new format is meant to provide a better description of the quality of the applicant’s research by describing “up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research.” That information goes into section C, which no longer asks for “Selected Peer-Review Publications,” but wants “Contribution to Science” instead.
For each of those significant contributions that you list you’ll include the central findings, the impact “on the progress of science” or the application to health or technology, your role in the work and more — including up to four peer-reviewed publications and/or other “non-publication research products” such as video products, patents, software, educational aids and many others. You’ll also need to provide an Internet URL link to a full list of your publications residing in a digital database.
In section A, the personal statement, you’re now invited to list up to four publications relevant to your qualifications for the proposal as well as specific contributions to science that are in addition to (i.e., different from) those in section C.
Oh, and the new biosketch can be five pages, up from four.
For some perspective and history on the new format you can read the “Rock Talk” blog posts by Sally Rockey, deputy director for extramural research at the NIH. I’ve listed the relevant posts among the resources at the end of this item. The often harsh comments at the end of the blog posts indicate some of the controversy about the format, which I’m not going to rehash here. (Keep in mind that people with strongly negative views are much more likely to post in these forums than others.)
Will this new format mean more work for investigators? I’m sure it will, at least initially. (Note that researchers are encouraged to use the SciENcv service as a way to create and update biosketches.) Will it improve the grant review process? To me, that’s hard to say. The new format may make it easier for applicants to report important contributions in this era of team science.
I’ve only scratched the surface here; you really need to acquaint yourself with the details. May 25 will be here soon, and you can use the new format sooner if you want. Here are some linked documents to help:
Guide Notice for the new biosketch: NOT-OD-15-032
New biosketch instructions and sample
Rock Talk, May 22, 2014: Changes to the Biosketch
Rock Talk, Nov. 26, 2014: Implementing the Modified NIH Biosketch Format
Rock Talk, Dec. 9, 2014: Following Up on the Biosketch Implementation