About Broader Impacts 

The NSF Definition of Broader Impacts is one of two merit review criteria, along with Intellectual Merit, that the National Science Foundation (NSF) expects proposers to fully address in their proposals. The definitions of the two criteria, as noted in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (Ch. III Section A), are listed below: 

  1. Intellectual Merit: The potential to advance knowledge, and 

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

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Requirements & Guidance for Broader Impacts 

In the NSF Grant Proposal 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 aim for. Here are some concrete guidance suggestions on how BI 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 complementary activities that are supported by the project (e.g., running an educational workshop for high school students on your research topic) 

Advancing Research Impact in Society

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $5.2 million grant to fund the Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS). The ARIS Center is housed at the University of Missouri and will work with scientists and engagement practitioners to build capacity, advance scholarship, grow partnerships and provide resources to help them engage with and demonstrate the impact of research in their communities and society.

View ARIS Website

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Listed below are some concrete 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