NSF Broader Impact Information

An important aim of this guide is to assist researchers who apply for NSF funding in fulfilling the “broader impact” criterion of any grant proposal. According to the NSF:

There are two general merit review criteria approved by the National Science Board (NSB) and listed in the Grant Proposal Guide: the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and the broader impacts resulting from the proposed activity. All proposals must separately address both of the merit review criteria in the Project Summary and should describe the broader impacts as an integral part of the narrative in the Project Description. Generally, even the most fundamental research has educational and/or potential long-range impact on another field, on technology, or on society in some way…The Division of Physics emphasizes the importance of thinking about and communicating these connections. Please note that this is not a shift in the priorities or strategic vision of the Division. It is rather a call for greater effort in expressing the broader context of our work.

The NSF provides general examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2002/nsf022/bicexamples.pdf. This APS Outreach Guide goes one step further, in that we give you ideas for specific outreach programs that will likely fulfill the broader impact criterion of your grant proposal, and we tell you exactly how to execute it. We want to assist you in your grant writing process, and we hope you find the information in the Guide useful for this purpose.

A few thoughts on the Broader Impact aspect, courtesy of Philip W. Hammer, a former Vice President of the Franklin Institute and David Statman, a professor of physics at Allegheny College:

  • Broader Impacts = Education and Outreach (NSF)
  • Junior faculty need to learn about broader impacts
  • Expose all university faculty to informal science education (ISE) opportunities
  • Get faculty to internalize their broader impacts obligation
  • Outreach needs to be top notch and visible
  • Build relationships before specific grant opportunity is needed
  • Collaborations must have science expertise
  • ISE’s can help with time constraints
  • Schedule events for underrepresented groups