Broader Impacts


Broader Impacts (BI) are the societal benefits of research. A required component of National Science Foundation grant proposals, Broader Impacts has become an important concept to other grant agencies as well, in measuring their impact. It is inclusive of other terms often used to describe the idea, such as "research impacts," "societal impacts," "public outreach," "broadening participation," and "community engagement." It encompasses the education, knowledge transfer, and diversity activities that result from research.

Broader Impacts Outcomes May Include:

  • Improved STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education and educator development at any level
  • Increased public science literacy and public engagement with science and technology
  • Full participation of underrepresented group(s) in STEM - whether it's women, persons with disabilities, a minority group, or other groups
  • Development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce
  • Enhanced infrastructure for research and education
  • Improved well-being of individuals in society
  • Increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others
  • Increased economic competitiveness of the United States
  • Improved national security

A Plan for Broader Impacts should have these characteristics:

  • 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.
  • Must make sense in the context of the research.
  • Should not be long lists of activities, but rather should be focused and integrated with the research activities.
  • May be a balance between existing evidence-based practices and innovative methods and approaches.
  • Must be well-justified.
  • Includes formal evaluation.


The Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) works with scientists and practitioners to help them engage with and demonstrate the impact of research in their communities and society.

BI Wizard

These free tools can help you develop a strong Broader Impact statement through a five-step process that outlines the important points to include in your statement.

BI Whitepaper

ND EPSCoR has developed a whitepaper which details the BI interests and needs of the four primarily undergraduate institutions and the five tribal colleges in ND.

BI Activities at NDSU

NDSU faculty and staff are already engaging in a diverse range of BI activities. To connect with these existing programs, view this list of BI activities at NDSU. 

To write a strong Broader Impacts plan, consider the following criteria:

Is the Broader Impact clear and concrete?
  • Activities are clearly described.
  • Audience(s) are clearly described.
  • Audience(s) numbers served are clearly described.
  • Timeframe is clearly defined.
  • Benefits to the audience or society are clearly described.
Is the Broader Impact a good idea?
  • Activities integrate the resources or infrastructure of the institution.
  • Activities leverage the resources and strength of partners.
  • Activities are creative and original.
  • Activities promote STEM education and research.
  • The proposed Broader Impact ((BI) is grounded in relevant literature.
Are the Broader Impacts realistic and measurable?
  • Goals and outcomes are clearly defined.
  • There is a clear need for the activities or program
  • Outcomes are measurable and evidence-based.
  • Outcomes are SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • The evaluator who will conduct the evaluation is clearly defined.
Is the Principal Investigator (PI) qualified to do the proposed Broader Impact activities?
  • The team members' credentials are clearly described.
  • The PI, team, or partner(s) have appropriate experience to do the Broader Impact activities.
  • PI provides results of relevant prior NSF support
  • PI provides experience of relevant prior success.
  • The evaluator has the expertise and experience needed to evaluate the project.
Is the budget sufficient?
  • There is a clear and realistic budget.
  • The budget justification provides reviewers with the information necessary to assess feasibility.
  • Resources and infrastructure provided by the PI's institution or partners are clearly described.
  • Budget is clearly described and is sufficient to support the project.
  • The scale of BI activities is proportional, approximately 10% of the total project budget.
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