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What are Broader Impacts?

Evaluation Criteria

Broader Impacts are one of the two merit criteria by which proposals are evaluated. Applicants are required to include broader impacts in their research proposals. It is possible to meet this requirement in different ways, including:

  • The research itself,
  • Activities that are directly related to specific research projects, and
  • Activities that are supported by but are complementary to the project.

(See the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Chapter  II.C.2.d)

NSF’s “Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes” (Chapter III.A.2, https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg20_1/pappg_3.jsp).

Five Questions to Address

(Chapter III.A.2, https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg20_1/pappg_3.jsp)

What is the potential for the proposed activity to: (a) Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit), and (b) Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?

To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?

Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?

How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?

Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?


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