NSF Special Report: Broader Impacts


AS WE AIM FOR SUCCESS of OSU’s broader impacts, it’s important that we understand the national and cultural contexts for broader impacts among researchers and institutions. In November, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a document titled Perspectives on Broader Impacts, summarizing perspectives of NSF administrators, university leaders, and researchers on the current state and future of broader impacts support infrastructure. The expressions contained in the report were recorded during the 2014 annual Broader Impacts Infrastructure Summit in Arlington, Virginia.

Those who are familiar with the application process know that when sifting through the more than 50,000 worthy proposals received each year, the NSF uses a merit review process that involves two measures: intellectual merit and broader impacts. While applicants are expected to address both measures equally, it is with broader impacts that many investigators fail to envision the wide scope of impactful activities available to them and their projects. With some projects, broader impacts activities can be inherent in the research itself, while others increasingly involve external collaboration for science educational outreach. However, as  we strive to show here in Grantsmanship Quarterly, broader impacts are not only educational outreach. The intersections between research, communitiesand the livelihoods of individuals can be very numerous, and measurably productive toward the melding of science into everyday life.

Discussion at the Arlington summit centered around issues of institutional collaboration, guidance, and accountability. Snapshots of perspectives on these issues can be found in the report at the following link.


By browsing the report, we hope that you as an individual, be you an administrator, researcher or practitioner, can be reminded of the importance of your work in generating, supporting, and implementing broader impacts.

–Story by Victoria Bonebrake, OSU Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning