National Science Foundation: Proposal Requirement Changes

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic NSF has made the decision to delay the requirement to use NSF-approved formats for the biographical sketch and current and pending support to October 5, 2020. NSF will continue to implement all other changes to the PAPPG beginning June 1, 2020.

The National Science Foundation is instituting the following changes for proposal requirements that go into effect for all proposals submitted on or after June 1, 2020:

  • Project Description: A separate section labeled “Intellectual Merit” will no longer be required.
  • Biosketch (delayed to 10/05/2020): NSF will only accept PDFs for biographical sketches through the use of an NSF-approved format. Approved formats include:
  • Current and Pending Support (delayed to 10/05/2020): NSF will only accept PDFs for Current and Pending support through the use of an NSF-approved format. Approved formats include:
  • List of Suggested Reviewers and Reviewers Not to Include: NSF has removed the requirement to indicate why the proposer prefers that someone NOT review their proposal.
  • RAPID and EAGER Proposals: Email documentation from the cognizant Program Officer approving the submission must be uploaded.

A webinar of the NSF-Approved Formats for Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support is available at

Additional information on the pending changes can be found at

The National Science Foundation has been heavily promoting the use of SciENcv. Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv) is an online tool that helps researchers create a research profile that complies with the new NSF and NIH biosketch format. It pulls information from available resources (eRA Commons, ORCID), making it easy to develop a profile that can be readily updated and modified. ORCID support is available from the University Libraries at:

At a recent meeting, Jean Feldman, Head, Policy Office at the National Science Foundation, stressed the preference that NSF has for receiving SciENcv generated biosketches. The underlying data behind the SciENcv generated biosketch will be available to NSF (drawn from ORCID profile and other associated research tools). That underlying data will not be available to NSF should proposers choose the fillable pdf option. And, Jean gave a word of caution: Do not think that you can create a flat pdf that looks like the fillable form or SciENcv generated form and try to submit it. Validations are in place and if you try to submit a biosketch or current & pending in a non-approved format, your application will generate an error and be rejected.

Investigators are encouraged to register for an ORCID iD and to begin using SciENcv to generate biosketches well in advance of submitting an NSF proposal on or after June 1, 2020.