As defined by in the National Science Foundation’s Perspectives on Broader Impacts Report, broader impacts relate to a project’s “potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.”
Researchers are encouraged to think big about how their work can impact—and be impacted by—our shared society and all its diversity, its strengths and weaknesses, its potential and its problems. Research Development curates a set of resources, including customizable text, potential partners, and best practices, to help researchers maximize the impact of their work. Explore the toolboxes below, reach out directly to toolbox managers for a consultation, or identify more resources through the Broader Impacts Connector.
Toolbox Manager: Diana Moyer (email@example.com)
Increasing the participation of traditionally underrepresented populations is crucial for innovations in research and teaching in higher education. Effective broadening participation plans address the marginalization of people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, disability status, socioeconomic status, gender, and/or sexual orientation to create systemic changes that encourage diversity and inclusivity.
Explore UT’s Broader Impacts Network to connect with local resources to create effective broadening participation strategies. Visit the external links below for an excellent overview of current best practices and funding opportunities to broaden participation to underrepresented groups. Access templates and boilerplate that can be modified to suit your project.
- ARIS Broader Impacts (BI) Toolkit
- ARIS: Mentoring the Next Generation – Using Undergraduate Research to Broaden Engagement and Impact in STEM
- Evaluating STEM Education Experiences
- Hanover: DEI Grants Calendar
- NIH: Diversity Programming
- NSF: Broadening Participation
- Informal Science: Broadening Perspectives on Broadening Participation in STEM Toolkit
Known by many names (such as team science, or inter/multi/transdisciplinarity), convergence research is a means of addressing complex societal problems through integration across disciplines. Additional techniques and training can help researchers work together more effectively on complex, shared problems.
Contact the toolbox manager for a customized consultation about your project’s needs. Explore UT’s Broader Impacts Network to connect with local convergence resources to transform the way your team works together. Visit the external links below for an excellent overview of current best practices in conducting convergence research.
- NCI: Collaboration and Team Science – A Field Guide
- NASEM: Convergence – Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond
- NASEM: Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science
- Interdisciplinary Integration Research Careers Hub (Intereach)
- International Network for the Science of Team Science (INSciTS)
- Strategies for Team Science Success (see Chapter 45)
Toolbox Manager: Sharon Pound (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Scientific topics are complex and often hard to explain, but researchers need to establish meaningful dialogue with diverse audiences to communicate the impact of their work and how it contributes to the public good. Using best practices in science communication can help researchers shift their messaging to engage with external stakeholders, including funders, policymakers, industry and community partners, and the general public.
Contact the toolbox manager for a customized consultation about your project’s needs. Explore UT’s Broader Impacts Network to connect with local partners to create an appropriate communication strategy. Share news about your research, scholarship, or creative activities with our Research Communications team. Visit the external links below for an excellent overview of current best practices in science communication.
- AAAS: Communication Toolkit
- ACSB: Best Practices in Science Communication
- Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science
- DOE: Science Communications Community of Scholars Listserv
- DOE: Communique Archives
- Informal Science: Science Communication, Public Engagement, and Outreach
- Journal of Science Communication
- Marine Biological Laboratory: Science Communication Resources for Scientists
- Science Public Engagement Partnership
- 500 Women Scientists: Science Communication Resources
Are “broadening participation” and “broader impacts” the same thing?
No, broadening participation of women, people with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in STEM is just one type of broader impact. Other types of broader impacts include increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased US economic competitiveness; use of science and technology to inform public policy; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.
What resources does NSF provide to help PIs with broader impacts?
In addition to the NSF-funded ARIS Toolkit, NSF has a Broadening Participation in STEM page and articles such as NSF 101: Five Tips for your Broader Impacts Statement.
Isn’t intellectual merit really the only thing that matters in getting a proposal funded by NSF?
Broader impacts have become an increasingly important part of the merit review process over the past 10 years. While a proposal with excellent broader impacts and poor intellectual merit is unlikely to be funded, weak broader impacts can prevent an otherwise strong proposal from being funded. The emphasis placed on the broader impacts review criterion can vary greatly across NSF programs. PIs should familiarize themselves with what the program has funded in the past and discuss their broader impacts with the program officer.
What UT offices can help PIs develop broader impacts strategies?
Campus-wide resources include the Community Engagement & Outreach, Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, and Research Development. Many colleges also have targeted programs that faculty can leverage to develop their broader impacts.