Skip to main content

The broader impacts of a research project are those components that, beyond the advancement of knowledge, have the potential to benefit society and contribute to achievement of specific desired societal outcomes. The National Science Foundation (NSF) requires proposals to address the broader impacts in addition to the intellectual merit of the project. Other federal funders increasingly incorporating a requirement to address the social impact as part of your proposal. The tools listed below, including the Broader Impact Wizard, will provide resources to address the societal benefits.

NSF provides the following examples of desirable societal outcomes:

  • 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 US
  • use of science and technology to inform public policy
  • enhanced infrastructure for research and education

For more information, please view the guiding principles of broader impacts (positive social outcomes) which includes questions of the type that reviewers may use to assess the broader impacts component of your proposal. You can also use the Broader Impacts Plan Checklist available here.

Please take a look at the Broader Impacts Toolkit website for additional resources.

The resources on this page were developed initially in 2012 by Janice McDonnell (Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences) and her colleagues. In 2021, a substantially revised version of the Broader Impacts Wizard was launched in partnership with Susan Renoe at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Executive Director of Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), which the goal of developing a collaborative network of broader impacts professionals across the United States.