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Guidance on NIH and NSF biosketches and the SciENcv biosketch tool.

NIH Biosketch

The NIH biosketch is required for all NIH and AHRQ grant applications. Investigators are asked to describe up to five Contributions to Science (Section C), and can include citations in this section and in the Personal Statement (Section A). Applicants have the option to include a link (.gov URLs only) to a full list of their published work such as My Bibliography.


SciENcv (Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae) is a free tool you can use to generate an NIH biosketch using information in your My Bibliography account and eRA Commons account.  My Bibliography and SciENcv can both be found in your My NCBI account. My Bibliography should be set up before you set up SciENcv.

Visit Frequently Asked Questions about NIH biosketches for more information. Blank templates, instructions, and sample biosketches are also available.

Perfecting your Biosketch: A SciENcv Workshop

Compliant biosketches - checklist

  • Complete each section (A - Personal Statement; B – Positions and Honors; C – Contributions to Science; D – Research Support or Scholastic Performance)
  • Include no more than 5 contributions to science with no more than 4 citations per contribution
  • Ensure that if you include the optional link to a full list of your published work in a site like My Bibliography, that the URL is .gov
  • Refrain from including information, such as preliminary data, that belongs elsewhere in the application
  • Follow NIH guidance on font type, font size, paper size, and margins (SciENcv makes this easy)
  • Use PDF format for your biosketch attachment
  • Limit the length of your biosketch to 5 pages or less


Tools to help generate a compliant biosketch

Step 1: Do you already have a My NCBI account?

Are your eRA Commons and NCBI Accounts linked?? It is important for an investigator's eRA Commons and NCBI accounts to be linked properly for efficient integration and auto-population of some sections of SciENcv. Check your NCBI Account Settings and look under "Linked Accounts." If they are linked, you will see "eRA login" listed here. If eRA is not listed here, the accounts are not linked. 

Linked Accounts

Problems linking your NCBI and eRA Commons accounts?  Contact the library! Or email Provide your NCBI user name, eRA Commons user name, and the email address(es) associated with the accounts.

Step 2: My Bibliography: managing your citations and setting up search alerts

My Bibliography is a citation management tool that helps you save your citations directly from PubMed. You can include a link to My Bibliography in your biosketch to provide a full list of your publications.

To add citations to My Bibliography:

1. Log in to My NCBI.
2. Search for all of your publications in PubMed.  Use the “send to” menu on the search results page to send the citations to My Bibliography.
3. Click on “My NCBI” in the upper right corner to access the dashboard.  Look for the My Bibliography box.
4. Click on “Manage My Bibliography.”  Your My Bibliography should be populated with all of your citations.

  • If you have authored additional publications that are included in PubMed, click the "Add Citations" menu and select "From PubMed" to search for these citations.
  • If you have authored additional publications that aren’t included in PubMed, you can manually add them to My Bibliography. Click the "Add Citations" menu and select "Manually".  Select the template for the type of publication you want to add (journal that doesn't appear in PubMed, books/chapters, meeting abstracts, presentations, patents, dataset, software, interim products such as preprints) and fill in the form. 

5. At the top of the page is a link to make your bibliography “public.”  When you click on this, it will show you the “public URL” that you can paste into your biosketch.
6. Keep your My Bibliography up-to-date by periodically adding citations for your newly-published articles. (Hint: Set up a search alert for your publications.)

To set up a PubMed search alert for an author's publications:

Screenshot of PubMed search and alert for Catarina Kiefe

Step 3: SciENcv: integrated biosketch generator

SciENcv is a recommended tool designed to facilitate the creation of biosketches for NIH and NSF grant applications and annual progress reports.

SciENcv links your biographical information from eRA Commons (education, work experience, award history) with your PubMed publications that have been saved in your My Bibliography account.

First, set up your My Bibliography as outlined in Step 2 above.  Then follow these steps:

  1. Log into My NCBI.
  2. Ensure that your NCBI account is linked to your eRA Commons account.  Click on your user name in the upper right hand corner, go to the Linked Accounts box, and verify (or add) "NIH and eRA Commons."
  3. In My NCBI, find the SciENcv box.  Click on "Click here to create a new CV." If you have already created a biosketch, click on "Manage SciENcv".
  4. Choose NIH Biosketch as format.
  5. Choose External Source as the data source and select eRA Commons.
  6. Choose Private as privacy setting. 

For future proposals, you can create a new biosketch using Existing Biosketch as the data source to reuse elements.

SciENcv has templates for each section of the biosketch that make it easy to add and update information. Review SciENcv Help for specific directions on how to edit SciENcv profiles.

Screenshot of SciENcv section of My NCBI

SciENcv recommendations and tips

  • Create a Master Biosketch that you can copy and edit for subsequent biosketches/proposals. Create this initial biosketch using eRA Commons as the external data source to pull in grant, employment, and education information. You can create multiple profiles within SciENcv so that you can tailor your biosketch for each new grant application.
  • When you add citations to My Bibliography, those citations will also be available in SciENcv.
  • Sections A and C have functionality to edit descriptions and select publications from My Bibliography. 
    • Citations can be re-used in a biosketch.
    • You can identify up to 4 citations in Section A with your Personal Statement.
    • Note that Section C allows you to create a tab for each Contribution to Science (up to 5). You can add, delete, and edit contributions as needed. List up to 4 citations with each contribution.
  • Consider including a public link to your entire My Bibliography in your biosketch, for instance if you have relevant citations that were not included in Sections A or C.
  • Use SUMMIT to see a list of all your research support.  You can manually copy and paste data from Summit (or from your current CV) to Section D for non-NIH awards.
  • You can export your SciENcv profile as a PDF document and use it when submitting a grant application.
  • Try not to export and modify Word versions of biosketches. The value of SciENcv is that it can house all of your data, which can then be reused within the system to create new biosketches.  But if your biosketch is close to the 5-page limit, one technique to save space is to download your biosketch from SciENcv in Word format and edit out white space. (Just don't forget to save it again in PDF format for the application.)
  • For guidance on Contributions to Science, consult with your colleagues who are grant reviewers and consider contacting the Program Director at the NIH institute/center supporting or most likely to support your award.

Resources and strategies

Delegating access to My Bibliography and SciENcv