Adherence to new document formatting requirements critical for successful NSF proposal submission

By Dan Kirkpatrick, Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research

Iowa State University’s College and Grants Hub pre-award support units urge investigators preparing proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to pay close attention to the new requirements regarding the formatting of biographical sketches and current and pending support documents.

Effective October 5, 2020, NSF began enforcing the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1) requirement dictating the use of NSF-approved formats for Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support proposal documents. Those formats are SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae and an NSF fillable PDF available on the NSF website. If one of these approved formats is not used, proposal submissions or post-award actions (e.g. change of PI requests, add/change co-PI requests and relevant RPPR submissions) will fail compliance checks and cannot be submitted through FastLane,, or

Members of the Sponsored Funding Support Council, representing the various pre-award support units, advise PIs to give themselves ample time to create documents in the approved formats.

“I simply can’t emphasize this enough – do not wait until the last minute,” said Sarah Carlson, grant coordinator for the College of Human Sciences. “If you’re planning to submit an NSF proposal in the next several months, start putting your Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending documents together now.”

Carlson further recommends using SciENcv for ease of use and being able to find and update the forms for future submissions, compared to the fillable PDF.

Lori Jarmon, assistant director for the Engineering Research Institute, notes that SciENcv has additional benefits for researchers who are registered with ORCID, a nonprofit organization that provide a unique persistent digital identifier (ORCID iD) tied to a researcher’s affiliations, grants, publications, peer review, and other professional information.

“The SciENcv tool integrates with ORCID, so you can populate your Biographical Sketches by importing data directly from your ORCID record rather than having to manually enter all the required information,”said Jarmon.

Lastly, Grants Hub has gathered relevant links and tutorials to aid PIs in this process in one convenient dashboard. Be sure to check it out before creating the necessary documents.


  • The fillable forms and SciENcv forms will have different “looks” within a proposal application.
  • The Current and Pending fillable form will always print out 15 pages, many of which may be blank. Do not delete any blank pages before uploading the document to an application.
  • Current and Pending from SciENcv may print out a fewer-page document.
  • An investigator can assign a proxy to assist them in preparing these documents in SciENcv.
  • SciENcv can be used to generate Biosketches for NSF, NIH and IES proposals.
  • If you’re importing your information from ORCID into SciENcv, make sure you’ve registered only one ORCID iD for yourself, so that all your data is in one record.