Addressing Broader Impacts

What Are Broader Impacts?

Most funding agencies will have some evaluative consideration for the overall impact of supported research on society, and the potential benefits of proposed projects. The National Science Foundation (NSF) in particular will evaluate a grant proposal on two broad criteria—Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. The intellectual merit of the proposal is a justification of the novelty, scientific interest and rigor of the research, the broader impacts are an indication of how the research will contribute back to society.  

According to the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter III.A, "These broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified."

Some societally desired outcomes identified by the NSF in Proposal Preparation Instructions Chapter II.D.2.d.i include, but are not limited to:

  • "full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (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;
  • use of science and technology to inform public policy;
  • and enhanced infrastructure for research and education."
More information and context is available on the NSF Broader Impacts guide.
Use the menu bar on the left to explore topics related to broader impacts, or for more information or assistance, contact us.
These pages were made in collaboration with NC State's Leadership in Public Science Cluster and the Research Development Office's Proposal Development Unit.