A crowd of people

New NSF-approved formats for biosketch, current and pending support required beginning June 1

The newest National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) takes effect June 1, 2020. The most significant changes involve NSF-approved formats for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support sections, both of which will now have to be in NSF-approved file formats: either SciENcv or NSF fillable-form PDF.

SciENcv integrates with ORCID so that biographical sketch information can be imported directly from ORCID, eliminating some manual entry of information in multiple places. The NSF fillable forms do not integrate with ORCID.

NSF requests that principal investigators start using the new formats now (even for proposals that will be submitted before June 1), so that they can identify potential issues. Feedback about the process should be emailed to policy@nsf.gov.

NSF’s Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support pages include links to the fillable forms as well as FAQs. Visit the SciENcv site for video tutorials and FAQs.


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons license.

Blackboard with the word "UPDATE" written on it. An outstretched hand holds an alarm clock in a space between the "P" and the "D" in the word update.

NSF updates research community on COVID-19 response

Jean Feldman, head of NSF’s policy office, gave a COVID-19 update as part of a panel discussion hosted by the National Council of Research Administrators (NCURA) on March 25. As described below, she addressed several of the questions most frequently being fielded by her office. For detailed responses on these and other FAQs, visit the NSF COVID-19 webpage. A new set of questions and answers was posted on March 26, with a specific section on Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grants.

Are NSF proposal deadlines being extended?

Many deadlines have been extended, but these are being decided and announced on a one-by-one basis. As of March 27, 15 deadlines are listed on NSF’s Impact on Deadline Dates webpage.

Can we continue to charge salary costs to our grants while non-essential research has been curtailed?

Grant recipients can continue charging salaries, stipends and benefits as long as these payments are consistent with their home institution’s policies. However, you should not assume that supplemental funding will be available to continue salaries when research activities can be restarted. In other words, you might end up with a budget shortfall down the road. If you anticipate this happening, you should contact your program officer.

Can universities donate personal protective equipment that was purchased with grant funding?

This is typically an unallowable expense, but funding agencies have discretion to approve such donations. Contact your program officer to see if it will be allowed. If you plan to donate now and then use university funds later to replenish your supply, work with your Grants & Contracts accountant to very carefully document the donation and replacement process.

How are award decision timelines being impacted?

The award process is currently continuing as normal; panels that were scheduled have gone ahead (virtually). Over time, delays may occur, but it’s too soon to predict those now.

Feldman encourages principal investigators and research administrators to contact their program officer or the Policy Office (policy@nsf.gov) with questions. Please also refer to Miami’s Research and Innovation COVID-19 and Your Research Program webpage, and in particular, the Agency and COGR Guidance webpage.


Photo by geralt via needpix.com, used under Creative Commons license.

A fountain featuring Atlas supporting the world on his shoulders.

NSF proposals to require new current and pending support format beginning June 1

Columns and arches in Union Station.

National Science Foundation’s latest Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) has been released and takes effect for proposals submitted on or after June 1. One of the more notable changes in the new guide is a requirement for information about current and pending support (CPS). CPS information is used by reviewers to assess the “capacity of the individual to carry out the research as well as to help assess any potential overlap/duplication with the project being proposed.”

The new PAPPG includes a requirement that CPS information be submitted in an NSF-approved format. The two approved methods for generating CPS information in an approved format are through SciENcv and through a fillable-form PDF. Both of these options are still in development, with no definite word on when we’ll be able to take a look.

NSF has released an FAQ document on the topic, which explains that CPS information formatted in ways other than the two approved methods will not be accepted. In fact, submitting a CPS PDF prepared in any other way will generate an error message.

Most of the remaining FAQs focus on the content of the current and pending information, rather than the format. I’ve summarized some of the most relevant information here:

  • Gifts should not be reported in CPS. However, an item or service given with an expectation of a time commitment from a researcher is not considered a gift; it’s an in-kind contribution. Ask your Research & Sponsored Programs representative if you need help determining whether something is a gift or an in-kind contribution.
  • In-kind contributions with an associated time commitment should be included in CPS (even if the contribution is not to be used on the proposed project).
  • Start-up packages should not be included in CPS.

Federal funders are increasingly concerned with accurate reporting of CPS information. Falsely reported information can be a serious matter. If you have any questions on what should be reported, please contact your Research & Sponsored Programs representative.


Written by Amy Hurley Cooper, Associate Director of Proposal Development, Office of Research & Innovation, Miami University.

Photo of Atlas fountain by Pauline E via geograph.org.uk. Photo of columns and arches by takomabibelot via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Large stack of paper

NIH to transition to Forms-F grant application forms and instructions

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will require applicants to use a new set of forms and instructions for proposals due on or after May 25, 2020. The changes appear to be very minor. The most substantive change, in PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information, involves the separation of the current “Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children” attachment into two attachments: “Inclusion of Individuals Across the Lifespan” and “Inclusion of Women and Minorities.” Miami’s grants.gov interface, Cayuse 424, will automatically update to the new forms for applications with due dates after May 25, 2020. While we expect that many applicants won’t even notice the changes, Research & Sponsored Programs staff will be available to answer any questions that arise.


Written by Amy Hurley Cooper, Assistant Director of Proposal Development, Research & Sponsored Programs, Miami University.

Paper stack image by Egle_pe via Needpix.com. “Coming soon” image by Mian Shahzad Raza via Pixabay. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Image improperly rendered on digital screen.

eRA Commons glitch prompts reminders about preparing proposals and checking submissions

Order forms and packing box, with text reminding viewer to compare numbers on forms and box to ensure they match. "Check here. And here. Be sure it's right. Check and double check!"

Earlier this fall, there was a glitch in NIH’s electronic submission system electronic submission system, eRA Commons, that caused blank pages to appear in place of content in some grant application submissions.  NIH attributed the error to PDF attachments that were generated from scanned documents, rather than text files.

Although the eRA Commons issue has now been resolved and our proposal facilitators, Anne Schauer and Amy Cooper, did not notice this error happening with any Miami proposals, we thought this was a good opportunity to issue a few reminders about submitting proposals, whether using Miami’s Cayuse system any other submission system.

Reminder 1

It’s always best to generate PDFs from text files created in Word or another word processing program. Using scanned images to create PDFs should be avoided whenever possible.

Reminder 2

It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that the submission is complete and accurate. Your proposal facilitator reviews your application prior to submission, but because they don’t have expertise in your field, they won’t always recognize when something — a technical figure, for instance — has not rendered properly. You should always check your proposal in the sponsor’s system (e.g., NIH’s eRA Commons) following submission to verify that everything appears the way it should.

Reminder 3

Many sponsors allow a period of time during which a PI may review and “fix” a submitted proposal. For example, NIH allows submissions to be reviewed, withdrawn, and resubmitted in eRA Commons for two days following submission. However, with many sponsors — including NIH — once the submission deadline has passed, no changes may be made to a proposal, even if the allotted review window has not yet passed. This is one of many good reasons not to wait until the last minute to submit a proposal. If you submit at the last minute, there may not be enough time for you to review the submitted proposal, let alone withdraw it, fix it, and resubmit it.


Digital screen glitch image by Rosa Menkman via Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons license. Check and double check image from the National Archives at College Park, public domain.

A fish ladder

FastLane and Research.gov to be unavailable November 8-12

"Road Ahead Closed" sign on a street, flanked by orange traffic cones.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a notification that FastLane and Research.gov will be unavailable beginning at 8:00pm ET on Friday, November 8 through 6:00am ET on Tuesday, November 12.

During this time, NSF will be migrating its business applications to a “modern and flexible” platform. The work will include an upgrade of the alpha-numeric character set used by FastLane and Research.gov to correct text errors — particularly those associated with special characters — that may appear in proposals and project reports.

As a federal agency, NSF is closed on Veterans Day, and the migration was scheduled for the Veterans Day weekend to minimize the impact of the unavailability of the two systems for PIs, research administrators, and NSF staff.

NSF advises that there will be no access to FastLane or Research.gov during the maintenance window. No proposals can be prepared or submitted, nor can project reports or cash requests be submitted. Information and documents that are entered into either system prior to the migration will be accessible following the migration. This includes in-progress proposals and project reports.


Road closed photo by The Local People Photo Archive via Flickr.  Fish ladder photo by Oscar_Huebner via Pixabay. Both used under Creative Commons license.