Skip to Main Content
UMass Chan Medical School, Lamar Soutter Library. Education. Research. Health Care. Empowering the future. Preserving the past.
UMass Chan Medical School Homepage Lamar Soutter Library Homepage

NIH Public Access Policy

Resources and guidance on the NIH Public Access Policy, NIH biosketches, and the SciENcv biosketch tool

Getting to My NCBI

Go to PubMed.  Click on "Log in" in the upper right corner.

Or, you can go directly to

From within your eRA Commons account, you can get to NCBI by clicking on the link for Public Access Policy Page in the lower right hand corner, and then the My NCBI link in the menu bar.

Contact Us

Sally Gore, MS, MSLIS
Manager, Research & Scholarly Communications Services

Lisa Palmer, MSLS, AHIP
Institutional Repository Librarian

Tess Grynoch, MLIS
Research Data & Scholarly Communications Librarian

Leah Honor, MLIS
Research Data & Scholarly Communications Librarian


Our thanks to Diana Nelson Louden, Biomedical and Translational Sciences Librarian at the Health Sciences Library, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, for allowing us permission to re-use content from her libguide.

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

Updated Biosketch format pages required effective May 25, 2021

NIH has announced Upcoming Changes to the Biographical Sketch and Other Support Format Page for Due Dates on or after May 25, 2021. The updated forms and instructions will be required for use for applications and Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPRs) submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2021. 

Questions to NIH related to changes to the biographical sketch and other support templates can be emailed to

Important note for SciENcv users: 

  • An updated biosketch template is available in SciENcv.  Investigators with an existing Biosketch in SciENcv are able to transfer their current Biosketch information to the new format.
  • NIH is finalizing the SciENcv template for Other Support and anticipates that the template will be available beginning in FY 2022. Until the SciENcv template is available, applicants and recipients are required to use the Word Format page to prepare Other Support information. The form must be converted to a PDF, and electronically signed prior to submission. This is an interim process, while NIH moves to the use of SciENcv templates for Other Support.

Important Changes to eRA Commons and NCBI Accounts in 2021-2022

The NIH is implementing important changes to eRA Commons and NCBI accounts.  To increase account security, NIH is transitioning to 3rd-party account credentials such as or university/institutional access. Your eRA Commons and NCBI usernames and passwords will be going away.  This does NOT affect the data in My NCBI, My Bibliiography or SciENcv in your NCBI account or submission data in eRA Commons.


  • Summer 2021: NIH will be launching a wizard to help users disable their NCBI password and link a 3rd-party login. Users will no longer be able to create an account with an NCBI password.
  • After September 15, 2021, you may no longer be able to use eRA credentials to login to eRA Commons. (See: eRA transition timeline)
  • NIH recommends linking at least one 3rd-party login to your NCBI and eRA Commons accounts and starting to use them to login. There are many options, including, InCommon UMMS institutional credentials, ORCID, and Google. (See: Choosing the best 3rd-party option for you)
  • June 2022: NCBI accounts not linked to valid 3rd-party logins will no longer be accessible through NCBI login pages.

What do I need to do?

For researchers who submit grant applications, creating a account and associating it with both eRA Commons and NCBI is probably the most straightforward option.

  1. Make sure your eRA Commons account is linked to your NCBI account (instructions)
  2. Create a account, setting up two-factor authentication with your phone or other method
  3. Associate your account with eRA Commons (you only need to do this once)
    1. Click on the "Login with" option on the eRA Commons home page
    2. Enter your username and password
    3. On the mapping page, enter your eRA Commons credentials
  4. If you have followed steps 1-3, you do not also need to link your NCBI account to The link is already active through the link between NCBI and eRA Commons. When logging in to your NCBI account from, you may select either the eRA Commons login button (using your old eRA username and password) or

If your account is linked with eRA Commons, it will show in NCBI as an eRA Commons account rather than a account, even though you are logging in through eRA Commons-linked accounts acts like eRA Commons accounts (i.e. they provide compliance status and grant information).

NCBI users and researchers who do not submit grant applications can link their NCBI account to or use InCommon UMMS institutional credentials to log in to NCBI by linking to the partner account for "University of Massachusetts Medical School" (instructions).  For those who currently use InCommon Federated account credentials to login to eRA Commons, please note that you may not be able to continue to use those account credentials after September 15, 2021 unless UMMS implements support for two-factor authentication. You are strongly advised to set up credentials for eRA Commons. (read more about InCommon credentials)

Access to online journals

Logging in to NCBI using a 3rd-part login such as may disrupt the process that our library and others use for access to the full text of online journals, especially when off campus.  NCBI is looking into solutions.  For now, to help ensure you have access to journals, we suggest activating your "PubMed Outside Tools" preference in your NCBI account.  Adding the UMassMed Outside Tool enables the UMass Medical School Check for Full Text Button to always appear when you're logged into PubMed with your NCBI account whether you're on campus or off and regardless of whether you go through the library homepage.

  • Sign in to My NCBI.
  • Click on your username in the upper right corner to access the Account Settings page.
  • Click the link at the bottom for NCBI Site Preferences, and then click Outside Tool under PubMed Preferences.
  • Select "UMassMed users can check for full text" from the list of Outside Tool services available.
  • View our very brief video (less than 2 minutes) on how to add the UMassMed Outside Tool!

More information:

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