Revised Biosketch & Collaborators under the 2016 NSF Grant Proposal Guide

May 31, 2016

Every so many years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) makes small changes to their Grant Proposal Guide (GPG), and 2016 was one of those years.

The goal of this piece is to focus on the new layout for the biosketch and the addition of a new document: The Collaborators & Other Affiliations. This rule applies to all proposals due after January 25, 2016.

But before we get to the changes, let’s take a second and review the GPG’s role in the NSF grant universe. As the title suggests, it’s the document outlining the rules and procedures for applying for and managing grants from the NSF. In cases when the solicitation does not give enough instructions on how to prepare the proposal, the GPG has the information you need.

While I am going to focus on the new biosketch here, you should familiarize yourself with all the new rules, especially regarding providing references (no more et al., although you can use the phrase in the Project Description), including URLs in Project Descriptions (don’t; instead cite the website like you would a journal article). You can see all the information on the new rules here.

The New Look Biosketch:

Before the changes, the biosketch served a couple of purposes. It established that you have the experience and expertise to successfully perform the tasks you committed to in the project. The other purpose of the biosketch was to provide a list of people who might be conflicted if they served as reviewers on your project. Now, that has been given to a new section called Collaborators & Other Affiliations.

This is actually good news since getting all the other information within the two-page limit on a biosketch was often a challenge. The page limit has not changed.

Below is a template. You want to make sure you follow the rules regarding the font (no smaller than 11pt Times New Roman or Computer Modern, or 10pt Arial, Courier New, or Palatino). Also, make sure you keep your margins at 1” all around.

NAME
Department Affiliation
University Affiliation
Work Address
Work Phone/Work Fax
Email address

Professional Preparation: List your undergraduate and graduate education and postdoctoral training as indicated below. Make sure all your degrees are listed in chronological order.

Undergraduate institution(s) Location Major Degree & Year
Graduate institution(s) Location Major Degree & Year
Postdoctoral institution(s) Location Area Inclusive Dates (years)

Appointments: In reverse chronological order, list your academic/professional appointments beginning with the current appointment.

Year(s) Title

Products: Here, you can list data sets, patents and software, as well as publications. If you only include publications, you can retitle this section “Publications” instead. List (i) up to five products most closely related to the proposed project, and (ii) up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project. Acceptable products must be citable and accessible, including but not limited to publications, data sets, software, patents, and copyrights. If you cannot cite it, don’t add it. Only the list of ten will be used in the review of the proposal. Each product must include full citation information, including (where applicable and practicable) names of all authors, date of publication or release, title, title of enclosing work such as journal or book, volume, issue, pages, website and URL, or other Persistent Identifier. You should also have two subsections: “Products most closely related” and “Other Significant Products.”

Synergistic Activities: In this area, you can list up to five examples that demonstrate the broader impacts of your professional and scholarly activities, focusing on the integration and transfer of knowledge, as well as its creation. This is your chance to show the reviewers that you can not only do the research, but you can also handle the outreach aspect of your project. Examples could include, among others: innovations in teaching and training (e.g., development of curricular materials and pedagogical methods); contributions to the science of learning; development and/or refinement of research tools; computation methodologies and algorithms for problem-solving; development of databases to support research and education; broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in STEM; and service to the scientific and engineering community outside of the individual’s immediate organization.

The Collaborators & Other Affiliations Document:

All Senior Personnel must include information on collaborators and other affiliations as laid out in the template below.

Name: (Your name here.)

Collaborators and Co-Editors: In alphabetical order, list all persons (including their current organizational affiliations) who are currently or have been collaborators or co-authors with the individual on a project, book, article, report, abstract, or paper during the 48 months preceding the submission of the proposal. Also include those individuals who are currently or have been co-editors of a journal, compendium, or conference proceedings during the 24 months preceding the submission of the proposal. If there are no collaborators or co-editors to report, this should be indicated.

Graduate Advisors and Postdoctoral Sponsors: List the names of the individual’s own graduate advisor(s) and principal postdoctoral sponsor(s), and their current organizational affiliations, if known.

Thesis Advisor and Postgraduate-Scholar Sponsor: A list of all persons (including their organizational affiliations, if known), with whom the individual has had an association as thesis advisor. In addition, a list of all persons with whom the individual has had an association within the last five years as a postgraduate-scholar sponsor.

Final Thoughts:

Keeping yourself familiar with the GPG greatly increases the chances that your submitted proposal is in compliance, thus avoiding its return without review. If you keep a biosketch on your computer and you haven’t done it already, take a few minutes and divide the biosketch into the two documents and update them both. It will make it easier for you when it is time to put together your next grant proposal.

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