What are Broader Impacts?
The National Science Foundation (NSF) evaluates proposals through the lenses of intellectual merit and broader impact (BI) criteria. Broader impact refers to the potential the work has to benefit society, to further educational horizons and knowledge of the general public, and to create a sustainable future for STEM research.
According to the NSF, a well-written BI statement "should include activities that are clearly described; have a well-justified rationale; and demonstrate creativity or originality, or have a basis in established approaches. The proposer should have a well-organized strategy for the accomplishment of clearly stated goals; establish the qualifications of those responsible for the activities; and demonstrate sufficient resources for support. A plan should be in place to document the results."
Support from the Office might include:
- Formulating BI/outreach plans that are well aligned with proposed research and faculty interests
- Identifying and tapping into existing infrastructure and programming to align with the proposal
- Catalyzing and coordinating external partnerships
- Once funded, coordinating and supporting programming, communication, and impact evaluation
Developing a broader impact or outreach plan that is well suited to faculty interests, time and resources is a collaborative effort. Ideally, investigators should contact Outreach as soon as they begin work on a proposal that requires a broader impact or outreach component. More lead time will result in a better proposal.
Proposals are encouraged to meet at least one or two of the major strands of the broader impact parameters:
- Building STEM talent
- Innovating for the future
- Improving our society
- Reaching beyond borders
- Engaging a wider audience