Friday, September 14, 2012

What do reviewers want to learn from my NIH Biographical sketch?

Often, new researchers search for NIH biosketch tips and tricks to help them to best showcase their accomplishments.  The question you should be asking is not "How can I best impress reviewers?" but, rather, "What do reviewers need to know?".  The biosketch portion of the grant application exists not to convince reviewers to hire you for a job, like a regular resume would, but to provide reviewers with adequate information to score your application. 

According to the Center for Scientific Review, the following criteria are used by reviewers in creating the Investigator portion of your score:

Investigator(s). Are the PD/PIs, collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?

As you create and review your personal statement and lists of positions and publications, ask yourself these questions.  Reviewing the biosketches of your research team members will also help you to determine whether you are presenting the picture of an experienced research team that has appropriate leadership and expertise to complete the proposed project. 

Volunteering for a local nonprofit is wonderful, and you deserve a pat on the back.  However, if the nonprofit is focused on cancer research and your project will examine cicadas, listing your volunteer effforts on your biosketch is not likely to sway reviewers. Stick to what is relevant and helps to answer the questions listed above. 

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