When evaluating proposals, NSF reviewers consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits would acrue if the project is successful.  These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions.  To that end, reviewers evaluate all proposals against two criteria: 

  • Intellectual Merit: The intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

Effectively addressing both criteria is essential for funding success. We have created several tools to help you on your journey to addressing intellectual merit and crafting effective broader impacts.

Find Tips for Broader Impacts here.

Find Broader Impacts Criterion here.

Find our Broader Impacts Guidesheet here.

Design and implement effective evaluations with this Evaluation Toolkit.

Use this helpful guide when crafting your evaluation design.

Do you need an external evaluator? Find out here.

Here are a few helpful resources that address how to write a successful Broader Impacts Section of your NSF proposal: