Broader Impacts

When considering proposals, funding agencies—both federal and private—are interested in understanding the specific and measurable ways proposals will benefit society. Increasingly, they are basing significant portions of their review criteria on societal impact. For many private funding organizations, this criterion is of paramount importance.

While specific guidelines vary among funding organizations, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has long had specific language in its proposal guidelines regarding the broader impact (BI) of the proposals it evaluates and has emphasized the role of that criterion in recent years.

As NSF indicates in its most recent Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1), "the Broader Impact criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes."

ORA hosts a workshop and presentation every year on how to incorporate BI in proposals. Through our Moodle page, LSU researchers can watch a previous panel workshop on BI (presentation file) from Spring 2021 led by the College of Science's Assistant Dean for Diversity & Inclusion, Dr. Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy, that covers the history of the BI requirement in NSF proposals, summarizes best BI practices, and offers insight from successful proposals.

This website provides a list of resources for faculty to explore how to integrate their research with outreach, particularly for multi- and cross-disciplinary research initiatives. Please note that the resources, information, and links shared below are still in development and do not reflect the full extent by which the BI of a proposal can be realized.

LSU Outreach Resources

The following sections provide information on or links to LSU-related units that can help researchers develop general outreach, community outreach, industry partnerships, or private foundation partnerships.

General Outreach

The following is a list of outreach initiatives and units established at colleges and schools at LSU A&M.

The following outreach groups are already established at LSU. Often, individual units offer multiple avenues for outreach. 

The following organizations are part of the statewide LSU system and may have outreach opportunities that faculty can leverage.

Community, Industry, and Foundation Outreach

The following are units on campus dedicated to community outreach.

If you are interested in developing an industry partnership for a component of your BI, please contact ORED's Director of Economic Development, Greg Trahan.

If you are interested in pursuing a private-sector foundation partnership for a component of your BI, please contact the LSU Foundation.

LSU Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources

LSU's Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, a division of the Office of Academic Affairs, which is committed to fostering inclusive educational opportunities and an equitable workforce environment at LSU. ODEI provides initiatives and resources associated with faculty that aid LSU in promoting diversity and equity, while enhancing the academic integrity and sense of community of the institution.

LSU's Office of Strategic Initiatives leads and coordinates institutional efforts to assist in raising LSU’s academic standing among its peers through competitive and outstanding achievements by students, staff, and faculty. Its core mission is to prepare the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) leaders. Through multifaceted initiatives, OSI assists the Office of Academic Affairs in creating and implementing programs that enhance the diversity of students and faculty.

If you are interested in developing outreach for students with disabilities at LSU, please email the director of Disability Services (Benjamin Cornwell) to discuss your ideas.

If you are interested in developing outreach for students who are veterans, please contact the William A. Brookshire Military & Veterans Student Center by emailing either Arlette Henderson, Shahidah Rahman, or LSUVeterans@lsu.edu.

LSU Evaluation Resources

LSU Social Research & Evaluation Center (SREC), which works in connecting communities to strengthen assets and providing evaluation to improve understanding of social, economic, and behavioral needs and opportunities.

External BI Resources

A number of organizations offer free resources related to BI. In terms of its own BI requirement, NSF has developed several areas on its website (through its Office of Integrative Activities) exploring various possible avenues for how to extend the impact of research. In addition to providing information on and examples of building STEM talent, innovating for the future, improving society, reaching beyond borders, and engaging a wider audience, this page links to the Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), an NSF-funded center at the University of Missouri that "works with scientists and engagement practitioners to build capacity, advance scholarship, grow partnerships and provide resources to help them engage with and demonstrate the impact of research in their communities and society," emphasizing support for historically underserved populations and engagement to ensure a diverse workforce and sharing BI practices and resources.

The ARIS site features an array of resources, including BI webinars, publications, presentation documents, and three development tools, including a BI Wizard, which provides support for investigators developing BI statements in a simple five-step process. Currently, ARIS is offering free registration to "anyone interested in the intersection between research and society" until the end of 2021.

In March 2021, NSF announced an open-call Dear Colleague Letter entitled "A Broader Impacts Framework for Proposals Submitted to NSF's Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate." The DCL offers

a framework that SBE researchers can use to develop and communicate their projects' broader impacts more effectively...[which] in no way alters NSF's existing criteria ‒ rather, it offers guidance on how to consider and convey broader impacts in ways that are easier for others to understand.

One commonly asked question about broader impacts is how to think about them, given that fundamental research often entails substantial uncertainty ‒ and can take many years to produce transformative results. Indeed, for many types of fundamental research the probability of achieving any specific outcome is often difficult or impossible to know in advance. As a result, for most types of fundamental research, descriptions of broader impacts should focus on a reasonable and honest assessment of possible and likely outcomes rather than on the probability of specific outcomes.

The "Broader Impacts (BI) Framework" offers a way for researchers to hone and articulate this focus. In other words, it offers a framework for connecting fundamental research outcomes to quality of life improvements for others. To use the BI Framework, a researcher begins with the basic elements of Broader Impacts and then considers three questions—(1) Who Can the Scientific Opportunities and Communicative Products Empower? (2) Whose Quality of Life Can the Empowerment Improve? (3) What Actions Make These Broader Impacts More Likely?)—about these elements potential to offer credible improvements.

The DCL announcement offers guidance on basic elements of broader impacts in the SBE sciences and further details the questions.


 

If you are interested in sharing an outreach avenue with the Office of Research & Economic Development to resource on this site, please contact Kelly Robertson or Kristopher Mecholsky.