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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.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I certify that my information is accurate, current, and complete? (for senior personnel) 

SciENcv - In the SciENcv system, when you download your document, that will initiate a time-stamped certification on the resulting PDF document.

NSF fillable PDF - The senior personnel must type their name and date in the form. The certification will be printed onto the form once you have typed your name and date. Nothing more is required for the form.

  • How can an administrator edit a biosketch previously created by a principal investigator in SciENcv? 

The administrator needs to be set up as a delegate by the principal investigator. After they are established as a delegate, the administrator will be able to access the SciENcv portal and edit/create biosketches on behalf of the principal investigator. In order to access the account of the principal investigator, navigate to your dashboard, at the bottom, there is a SciENcv section. If appropriately set up as a delegate, at the bottom of the SciENcv section the delegated CV(s) will be listed including a link to work as a delegate. 

  • Can a delegate certify a biosketch on behalf of a principal investigator? 

No, as a delegate, you are not authorized to certify a biosketch document. The PI must be the final person to approve any changes in the biosketch. 

  • What if the publications that I want to select in my biosketch (Products) have too many authors? 

If you have publications with so many authors that it seems daunting to try and create a three-page document, use the SciENcv format. Within the publications section, you can import citations from other sources or type them in manually and then edit the author list down to include however many you want (according to style or listing you) and then append "et al." to the end. If done using the tools provided by SciENcv, the full author list will be included in the metadata (behind the scenes) of the pdf.

  • 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.

  • Are there best practices I should follow when using the NSF-approved fillable form? 

Yes, always save your form on your local computer before you start to edit.

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.


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