Develop a simple and comprehensive tracking system for trainees

Ensuring that NIH  creates pathways through undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral training that provide excellent preparation for biomedical research careers in a timely fashion requires careful analysis of the data on  the biomedical research workforce. Unfortunately, there are major gaps in available data for biomedical postdoctoral researchers and students. The studies leading up to the publication of the report of the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group revealed that existing data were flawed in multiple ways.   Almost no data on foreign postdoctoral researchers is available and information on the overall size of the national pool of postdoctoral researchers is not reliable. The absence of credible data on major components of the research workforce hampered the development of recommendations related to future demands for scientists as well as a comprehensive understanding of the size or dynamics of the training pool.

NIH is working on the following initiatives to help fill the gaps within the biomedical workforce data.

A. Identify all NIH-supported students and post-docs:

NIH has maintained a system to track the career trajectory of students and post-docs supported by the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) for almost four decades. But little information is available about the biomedical students and post-docs involved with NIH research grants, even though the numbers of these researchers are between two times and four times higher (graduate students and post-docs respectively) than the NRSA award recipients.To receive accurate information about the post-docs supported by NIH research grants, NIH began requiring all post-docs listed in a grantee's annual progress report to have an eRA Commons account in 2009. In August 2013 NIH announced that an eRA Commons ID will be required in progress reports for all individuals in graduate and undergraduate student roles who participate in NIH-funded projects for at least one person month or more.


Beginning in October 2014, progress reports lacking the eRA Commons ID for graduate and undergraduate students will not be accepted.  

Related Guide Notices

NOT-OD-13-097 Extension of eRA Commons User IDs to Individuals in Graduate and Undergraduate Student Project Roles with Measurable Effort on an NIH Annual Progress Report (PHS2590 & RPPR)  

B. Automate NRSA training tables:

For decades, NIH has required detailed tabular data in every training grant application. These data tables provide grant reviewers with information on trainees associated with the training program, along with an indication of their career outcomes for at least 10 years after they leave the program. Although these tables are a rich source of information on the success of these programs, they are cumbersome to complete and the extensive information provided is not in a format that can be easily analyzed. NIH has launched an activity that will pre-populate some of the information for users and turn these tables into digital archive of information using an NIH-wide approach similar to that employed by CareerTrac (currently used by NCI, NIEHS and FIC) and a trainee tracking system used by NINDS.


NIH will be implementing automated training tables in FY 2016.

C. Develop a Fed-wide researcher profile system:

NIH is engaged in a project with five other federal agencies to develop an electronic system to support an online curriculum vitae called the Science Experts Network (SciENcv). This system is being built by the NIH's National Library of Medicine under the aegis of the National Science and Technology Council, through the Research Business Models and the Science of Science Policy interagency working groups, and with input from the agency and university representatives that make up the Federal Demonstration Partnership. SciENcv will permit researchers to use existing data sources to assemble and validate the information necessary to construct a biosketch in the format required by federal research agencies. SciENcv will reduce the burden associated with preparing applications for federal grants and at the same time provide a rich source of information on researchers, their grants and their scientific output.


NIH will release a beta version of SciENcv in the summer/fall of 2013.


Federal-Wide Researcher Profile Project (SciENCV)

D. Encourage adoption of unique persistent researcher IDs

To measure the output of individual researchers, it is important to reduce the ambiguity associated with commonly occurring names. An international, non-profit organization called the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) now provides a persistent digital identifier that can be associated with author names in publications. The ORCID system also will allow individuals to identify their research output and create a registry of IDs. SciENcv will include a utility that will make it easy for users to obtain an ORCID and to link it to their publications and grants. A broadly used researcher ID also will facilitate the identification of scientific output from those who work outside federally funded research programs. The acquisition of ORCIDs will be facilitated by SciENcv.


Researchers can request ORCID IDs now.


Related Information

Rock Talk Blog: Taking On the Challenge of Better Biomedical Workforce Data - April 11. 2013