Broader Impacts of your Research


The Broader Impacts section has been a required component of grant proposals to National Science Foundation (NSF) programs for many years. However, due to the feedback by reviewers who felt that many applicants were treating Broader Impacts plans as an afterthought to their proposed research programs, NSF has recently been increasing its focus on the substance and quality of applicants’ proposed Broader Impacts plans as a review criterion, with other agencies following suit. Thus, PIs who want to develop competitive Federal grant proposals, especially to NSF, need to strengthen their focus on inclusion of a well-designed Broader Impacts plan.

The National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI) has developed a guiding document for the NSF Broader Impacts criterion that serves as a great resource to assist applicants with developing their Broader Impact plans. As starting points, NABI suggests considering what the Broader Impacts goals of your proposed project may be, which could include (but need not be limited to) one or more of the following:


•     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


The Broader Impacts plan should then be developed with the following set of questions in mind, which will likely be evaluated by the reviewing team:

1)    What is the potential for the proposed activity to benefit society and contribute to achievement of specific desired societal outcomes?

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

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

4)    How well qualified is the individual, team, or institution conducting the proposed activities?

5)    Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home institution or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities? Is the budget allocated for Broader Impact activities sufficient to successfully implement them?


Detailed information and many helpful resources are available at: