This guide was created in March 2020, prior to the implementation of PAPPG-20 for NSF grants. PAPPG-20 stands for Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide, and requires the use of a tool called SciENcv for the biosketch portion of grants.
Can I create a PDF through Word and upload it as a biographical sketch if I format it similarly?
Not for NSF, the systems in place will flag biosketches and current & pending support documents and halt the grant-seeking process. The metadata that is embedded in the NSF fillable PDF and the SciENcv system is necessary for the granting offices to process a request.
For NIH and IES, SciENcv is an optional tool.
What is the benefit of using SciENcv over the fillable PDF?
The NSF fillable PDF and SciENcv created PDF are both approved formats for submitting biosketches and current & pending support documents. One of the benefits of using SciENcv as opposed to the NSF fillable PDF is that SciENcv is a free and easy to access system that will save your biosketches and supporting documents. This means that after you have created one biosketch in SciENcv, it becomes much easier to take and reuse that information in creating future biosketches. The NSF fillable PDF also has some limitations due to document space constraints like the number of line items you can add in any one field.
What is the best method to use the NSF approved fillable form?
The NSF fillable form is intended to be downloaded and saved to your computer prior to entry of information. If you open the document and start to directly insert content, you run the risk of losing your progress because of the configuration of different in-browser PDF reader settings. In addition, using the PDF application on Apple computers can automatically resize the text to fit within PDF text boxes - we don't want this. You can change that setting in your Preview application settings.