The National Science Foundation (NSF) Merit Review process has two criteria for reviewing more than 50,000 proposals annually: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. While researchers are generally confident about the intellectual merit criterion, the Broader Impacts criterion can pose a different set of challenges.

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Development (OSP) provides a variety of NSF Broader Impacts resources and services for all Cornell faculty including individual project design consultations, faculty workshops, partnership connections, grant writing support and review, as well as up-to-date information on the state of Broader Impacts from national leaders and policy makers. 

Individual Faculty Consultations:

  • Overview of NSF Broader Impacts criteriaImage: Light bulb
  • Developing a Broader Impacts Strategy for a specific NSF solicitation, i.e CAREER, Individual PI 
  • Formulating a Broader Impacts Identity and Strategy
  • Brainstorming a pathway for implementing an effective Broader Impacts plan
  • Leveraging existing campus and community resources
  • Partnership facilitation and negotiation
  • Grant writing review, feedback, and suggestions 
  • Budgeting for Broader Impacts
  • Evaluation and assessment planning
  • Finding an external program evaluator
  • Design insights from successful Broader Impacts projects at Cornell 
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Book 30 minutes with Tiffany Fleming, the Research Impacts and Partnerships Manager to discuss NSF Broader Impacts (BI) planning and proposal development strategies. Gain clarity around NSF BI criteria, address BI reviewer feedback, identify potential collaborators, and learn more about building community partnerships for your education and outreach goals.

Overview of Broader Impacts: What is it? 

Learn about the current state of Broader Impacts and trends with successful case studies and new resources available to Cornell faculty by downloading the following resources. 

blue framework iconBroader Impacts Identity Framework Workshop (PART I) - November 5, 2021 

>Presentation slides >Workshop exercises >Video

Broader Impacts Proposal Design Workshop                          (PART II) - November 19, 2021 

Presentation slides > Video

ddBroader Impacts Design for NSF Proposals Slide Presentation Icon: zoomBroader Impacts Design for NSF Proposals Zoom Recording

Broader Impacts Partners and Programs:

Many Broader Impacts projects are done in partnership with existing programs and organizations on campus and in the surrounding community. Cornell's list of local programs and partners that focus on improving K-12 STEM education, student learning, science teacher development, and public understanding of science is available. Contact information for the staff and/or faculty leading these programs is listed.

Broader Impacts Identity Framework: 

Do Broader Impacts feel like a burden or an opportunity for you? 

A well-defined “impact identity” can serve as the foundation through which scientific research and societal impacts are integrated and developed over the course of your career.

This paper can help you assess how you approach Broader Impacts and create a robust broader impacts plan that aligns with your professional identity.

Writing Your Broader Impacts Plan for NSF Merit Review:

NSF Broader Impacts are reviewed using the same criteria as Intellectual Merit. The National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI) has published the NABI Guiding Principles document to help researchers and partners to think about Broader Impacts in a way that aligns with each review criterion.

NSF Specific Resources:

Gain a clear understanding of NSF funding priorities, long-term goals and objectives, and the initiatives they aim to support to achieve these goals. Explore their vision of the deeper integration of STEM research, education, and societal impacts. Click here to read the plan.

A biennial report to Congress provides quantitative information on the state of US science, technology, and engineering. Source data from diverse surveys are available as well, including surveys on earned doctorates; graduate students in STEM; public perceptions; and knowledge about science, business R&D, and state government research. Use these data to make a case for the importance of your Broader Impacts plan.

Clarify your understanding of current NSF priorities and initiatives around diversity and inclusion, which is an area of strategic importance to NSF. Read more about broadening participation at NSF here.

This feature length video reviews NSF’s Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts review criteria.

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Join the CU-RES-Admin email listserv to learn about upcoming Broader Impacts Identity and Design Workshops for faculty.