What are Broader Impacts?

Broader Impacts is one of two merit review criteria, along with Intellectual Merit, that the NSF expects proposers to fully address in their proposals. The definitions of the two criteria, as noted in the NSF Proposal and Award Policy Guide ( PAPPG Ch. II Section A), are listed below:

  1. Intellectual Merit: The potential to advance knowledge, and
  2. Broader Impacts: The potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes

In its Proposal and Award Policy Guide (Ch. II Section C), the agency now only offers broad guidelines on how researchers can meet the BI requirement and potential social outcomes they can strive to achieve.

Guidance on How Broader Impacts Can Be Accomplished:

  • Through the research itself (i.e., research that has potential to lead to breakthroughs in certain industries or contribute to solutions to societal problems)
  • Through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects (e.g., using the research project as a training ground for students or early-career scientists)
  • Through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project (e.g., running an educational workshop for high school students on your research topic)

Examples of Target Outcomes for Broader Impacts Activities:

  • Full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in STEM
  • Improved STEM education and educator development at any level
  • Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology
  • Improved well-being of individuals in society
  • Development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce
  • Increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others
  • Improved national security
  • Increased economic competitiveness of the United States
  • Enhanced infrastructure for research and education

 

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