New framework provides guidance for broader impacts in research proposals

Ripples in water created by falling droplets.

Effectively describing potential impacts can help others understand the relevance to their lives.


March 19, 2021

A new framework for articulating broader impacts in research proposals is now available from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

NSF's existing criteria for evaluating research proposals through both intellectual merit and broader impacts remain unchanged. The new framework offers guidance on how researchers can better articulate the potential impacts of their proposed research and how those impacts can lead to benefits for society, including improved quality of life. The framework includes questions for researchers to consider when developing the broader impacts of their research and suggestions on how to explain them.

“By effectively describing a project's potential broader impacts, researchers can help others understand the relevance of that research to their lives,” says Arthur Lupia, head of NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. “As more researchers do this, more people in the U.S. will understand the tremendous and irreplaceable public value of fundamental research in the social, behavioral and economic sciences.”

To read the framework, see Dear Colleague Letter: A Broader Impacts Framework for Proposals Submitted to NSF's Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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