Broader Impacts After January 13, 2013

As of January 14, 2013, NSF changed its approach for evaluating its two merit criteria—intellectual merit and broader impacts. As part of this, the list of examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts was removed from its guidance. The Agency does not want to provide undue influence to proposers regarding what their likely broader impacts activities might be or imply that the exemplary activities are in any way proscriptive. The result is this document is hard to find. We have included this document to give you some ideas on what “broader impacts are” since the examples listed are indeed considered broader impacts by NSF. Also, the Dear Colleague Letter from 2007 is informative. However, to fully take into account NSF’s new evaluation approach, you should also consider NSF’s statement below regarding its desired societal outcomes because “societal outcomes” are the key review element (“1(b) Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (broader impacts)”) directly tied to broader impacts. Additionally, this statement broadens what is considered a broader impact.

“NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to the achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes 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 wellbeing 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; and

* enhanced infrastructure for research and education.”

In addition, whatever you propose for broader impacts must also stand up to the following four review elements:

* 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 institution to conduct the proposed activities?

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

To cover these review elements, the description of what you propose for broader impacts must be more complete than was previously the case. In addition, the bio-sketches you include must demonstrate the team’s ability to carry out what is proposed. Finally, you should also address the your broader impacts activities via the “Facilities and Other Resources” section by including descriptions of those “Other Resources” (e.g., Developing Scholars, Multicultural Engineering Program, CORES) you will be using to help support your broader impacts program.