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 

Contact Tiffany Fleming (, Research Impacts & Partnerships Manager, to schedule a consultation and learn more.

    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 from an OSP Roundtable in July 2020. 

    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:

    Recent Perspectives on Broader Impacts Criterion from NSF, University Leaders, and Faculty

    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.

    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.

    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.