Consider ways to write about your impact in the New NIH Biosketch

Karen Gutzman and Paula Shaw
This is a guest post contributed by Karen Gutzman and Pamela Shaw. Karen is the Impact and Evaluation Librarian, and Pamela is the Biosciences and Bioinformatics Librarian at Galter Health Sciences Library, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.
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Do your “contributions to science” in the new NIH Biosketch feel rather flat? Want to reinforce just how impactful your work is?

The new “contributions to science” section of the NIH Biosketch provides space for up to 5 contributions which should each include:

  • the historical background that frames the scientific problem
  • the influence of the finding(s) on the progress of science or the application to health or technology
  • your specific role in the described work
  • list of up to four peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research outputs for each contribution

Consider all your research outputs

Before you begin, take time to jog your memory of all the research outputs from your work. These may include:

  • Journal articles, books or book chapters
  • Conference papers or posters
  • Databases, datasets or research materials
  • Software, netware, or code
  • Models or protocols
  • Scientific instrumentation or devices
  • Audio or video products
  • Educational materials for trainees, students or patients, etc.

For a more comprehensive list of outputs, download and review the Becker Model for Assessment of Research Impact.

Consider the impact of your research

Below are some ideas for highlighting the impact of your research. Any examples provided are adapted from drafts of NIH biosketches and one from a grant progress report, though all numbers and other potential identifiers have been changed.

Highlight your full range of outputs

“This project produced 11 non peer-reviewed articles, 2 reports for policy makers, 4 magazine articles, 3 local newspaper articles, 23 presentations to a variety of policy and academic audiences, and 2 book chapters.”

“This project resulted in 10 peer-reviewed articles, 2 national presentations, and 4 international presentations.”

Highlight the impact of one or more outputs

“The paper describing this work is listed below and has been cited >300 times (Scopus).”

“Collectively the 4 papers listed below have been cited more than 1,200 times by Scopus (1,100 by WoS).”

Highlight successful dissemination

The 21 publications resulting from this work have been cited by 750 subsequent works by investigators in 47 countries, and in 7 languages around the world (Scopus).

Highlight consumption by stakeholders

“There was considerable media coverage of this project, with 10 articles in national newspapers and 6 other media appearances.”

“The 4 papers describing this work were referred to by news media outlets 24 times; tweeted 13 times worldwide, including tweets from the National Cancer Institute, and commented on 8 times in PubMed Commons.”

To include or not to include

In the end, you may decide that your contributions to science speak louder than what any numbers or metrics can capture. These suggestions are meant to provide ideas and options as you consider how to communicate your science to NIH reviewers.

How do I find these numbers?

Curious about finding some of the numbers or metrics listed in the examples? Contact your library for guidance on how to track the dissemination of your research. You might also consider downloading the Altmetric bookmarklet and exploring some of the data for yourself.

Also visit the NIH Biosketch FAQ for information on compliance, citations, the contribution to science section and more.


Altmetrics in the NIH Biosketch: demonstrate the reach and influence of your research

Gathering reliable data on the broader engagement and reach of your research can be a challenging and time-consuming process. Altmetric provides data and tools that enable you to monitor, in real-time, where research is being talked about online as soon as it’s published. Join Altmetric’s Patty Smith, a former CTSA hub librarian, for a practical overview of how altmetrics data can be included in your Biosketch.

Click here to view the on-demand webinar

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