Broader Impacts Resource Center

Penn State Eberly College of Science Outreach Office




Writing Your Broader Impacts Section

Overall Timeline

Ideally, writing should start at least 2 months before the proposal is due. As shown below, there will likely be overlap between the planning and writing stages as revisions are made and feedback is received from collaboration partners.



Writing Tips

Proposers should approach writing their Broader Impacts sections as rigorously as their Intellectual Merit sections of their proposals. The tips below were adapted from a presentation by Dr. Susan Renoe from the National Broader Impacts Summit at the University of Missouri:

Broader Impacts information must be incorporated throughout your proposal in the following sections:

  • Project Summary
  • Project Description
  • Postdoc Research Mentoring Plan
  • Data Management Plan
  • Biosketch
  • Budget and Justification

NOTE: After you are funded, you will also need to describe your Broader Impacts progress in your Annual Report


  • Must include separate sections for Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts
  • Should be written in 3rd person and understandable to a scientifically or technically literate lay reader
  • Proposals that do not contain the Project Summary and SEPARATE statements on IM and BI will not be accepted or reviewed
  • Must include separate sections for Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts
  • Explain what you want to do, why, and how
  • Explain how you will evaluate/assess for success
  • Explain what the societal benefits of your successful activities will be
  • Include the results of prior NSF funding (in the main BI section or a separate section dedicated to results from prior NSF funding)
  • Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the project will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts criterion
  • Explain how postdocs will get career counseling and training on how to successfully write grant proposals, publications, and presentations
  • Write about your track record – include up to 5 examples of the broader impact of your professional and scholarly activities focusing on the integration and transfer of knowledge and its creation
  • You need to include BI in your budget or explain extremely well why it is not included
  • Account for cost of professional services, including professionals from your institution
  • Include funding for evaluation.
  • Use your budget justification to show that you have a plan for BI and have requested funds to follow through with it
  • *NOTE: In the past, proposals have gotten negative comments for budgeting insufficient funds for their BI activities. Make sure to create a budget that matches your activities – this will give the reviewers more confidence that you have thought through your plans.

Questions? Comments?

Please email us at if you have any questions or suggestions for how we can improve this resource center!  Additionally, we would love to hear if you have Broader Impacts grant or activity examples you would like to share!

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