Broader Impacts Resource Center
The University of Idaho is committed to increasing the impact of faculty-led research and creative activity. Staff in the Office of Research and Faculty Development (RFD) work with the campus community to develop plans to maximize the broader societal impacts of their work. Within RFD, a dedicated Research Impact Professional supports individual faculty and teams designing or implementing broader impact activities as part of grant proposals or externally funded work.
During 2020-2021, U of I was chosen as one of five institutions to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Program to Enhance Organizational Research Impact Capacity (ORIC) offered by the Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) Center (NSF Award #1810732). The other institutions selected were Michigan State University; Purdue University; University of California, Berkeley; and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Through ORIC, ARIS provides institutions with research impact training, resources, and mentorship, fostering a research impact community of practice to help participating organizations increase their internal capacity to support research impact activities. Participation in ORIC has enhanced institutional knowledge of and leadership in key competencies that will foster a sustainable research impacts infrastructure at U of I.
National Science Foundation (NSF) Broader Impacts (BI) Criterion
When developing proposals for the National Science Foundation as well as some other organizations, researchers and scholars are expected to focus and reflect on both the scientific and/or scholarly impacts of their work as well as its broader impacts, that is, how their work benefits the broader academic and scientific community, the education community, and the public.
Along with a review of each proposal’s intellectual merit, the National Science Foundation (NSF) reviews the merit of its broader impacts – the benefits to society of the proposed research; thus, every NSF proposal must include a section about the intended broader impacts of the proposed work.
As stated in the National Science Foundation Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide:
NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. 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.
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 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 U.S.;
- use of science and technology to inform public policy; and
- enhanced infrastructure for research and education.
These examples of societally relevant outcomes should not be considered either comprehensive or prescriptive. Proposers may include appropriate outcomes not covered by these examples.
Broader Impacts (BI) Development Assistance
One of RFD’s goals in developing BI plans is to help faculty create competitive proposals. Just as importantly, creating effective broader impacts/public outreach enhances the public’s perception and understanding of the value of research and University of Idaho’s role in supporting it.
Development of Broader Impact Plans in Proposals
RFD staff are available help you develop a strong BI plan based on your individual interests and resources. Please reach out via the Faculty Request for Proposal Development Assistance and check Level 0: Consultation with RFD, then check B: NSF Broader Impacts consultation.
Finding BI Partners
We will work with you to identify potential partners for your BI activities. Our BI Partner List (PDF) can be used to find both on-campus and community partners that can help you accomplish your goals and result in a positive impact with your target audience.
Resources for Developing Broader Impacts Plans ⚓
- NSF Broader Impacts; Improving Society
The National Science Foundation’s webpage on Broader Impacts includes examples of broader impacts.
- NSF Report: Perspectives on Broader Impacts
This report provides background and history of the NSF broader impacts criterion.
- BI Review Document for NSF Proposals
This guide was developed to assist NSF program managers, proposal reviewers, and review panels in evaluating the BI component of NSF proposals and to assist proposers with developing their broader impact plans. The document also creates an opportunity for proposers to think critically about how their broader impact activities will incorporate into their research portfolio over time and begin to develop their “impact identity.” (Risien, 2018)
- Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) webpage
This NSF-funded program works with scientists and engagement practitioners to build capacity, advance scholarship, grow partnerships and provide resources to help them engage with and demonstrate the impact of research in their communities and society.
- Broader Impacts Wizard
This tool, developed by NSF-ARIS and Rutgers University, will help you develop a BI plan that will satisfy the National Science Foundation (NSF) BI review criterion and fulfill your interest in communicating your research projects and outcomes.
- Sample Broader Impacts Statements
Browse examples of broader impact statements from successful NSF proposals, collected from PIs at Georgia Tech.
- Broader Impacts Activities Worksheet
Use this worksheet to draft your Broader Impacts plan.