Biographical Sketches Brief

Although called different things by different agencies and foundations, a biographical sketch by any other name is still a biographical sketch, and it is an important part of your grant application. One very important purpose of the biographical sketch is to indicate to the funding entity that the assembled project team has the expertise to perform the proposed project from start to finish. I have seen solid grant proposals rejected by reviewers because it was unclear that the project team had the expertise required to complete the project. In some cases, the teams did have the expertise, but their biographical sketches did not reflect it.

The good news is that the solution is straightforward: simply allot some time during the proposal development process to carefully comb through the proposal and identify the tasks required by the project and who is responsible for each task. Then, assemble the team’s biographical sketches and compare them to this list of responsibilities. The biographical sketches should clearly indicate that the appropriate team members have the experience and expertise necessary to successfully complete the tasks at hand.

If you complete this exercise early enough in the development process, you will have enough time to address any gaps. In some cases, a biographical sketch may simply be incomplete, but in others you may need to acquire the requisite training or add a collaborator with the training and expertise to your team. In the end, time spent reviewing your team’s biographical sketches is time very well spent in this time of declining funding, low success rates, and increased competition.