NSF Proposal Tip about Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts

Are you submitting a DRK-12 proposal? Confused about the broader impacts and intellectual merit sections?

Follow the guidance provided in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) NSF 18-1 [Chapter II, Section C 2 d. (i)], namely, you should include separate statements on broader impacts and intellectual merit in both the project description and the project summary. While the current DRK-12 solicitation does not include language about including an intellectual merit statement in the project description, the NSF is requiring proposals to follow the relevant guidelines in the PAPPG.


d. Project Description (including Results from Prior NSF Support)

(i) Content

The Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a section labeled "Intellectual Merit". The Project Description should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and must include the objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance; the relationship of this work to the present state of knowledge in the field, as well as to work in progress by the PI under other support.

The Project Description should outline the general plan of work, including the broad design of activities to be undertaken, and, where appropriate, provide a clear description of experimental methods and procedures. Proposers should address what they want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified. These issues apply to both the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions.

The Project Description also must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a section labeled "Broader Impacts". This section should provide a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to the achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; 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 economic competitiveness of the US; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.