At the National Science Foundation (NSF), broader impacts reflect the potential of research to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes, whereas intellectual merit refers to the potential to advance knowledge. While broader impacts have always been important to NSF, the revised review criteria, effective 14 January 2013, put greater emphasis on broader impacts by placing them on par with intellectual merit in terms of the elements to be considered in the review. The Earth Sciences Division (EAR) is actively engaged in the assessment and provision of resources related to broader impacts. The expectation is that principal investigators will contribute to the body of knowledge on this topic and that the actual activities that principle investigators complete should be impactful. Within EAR, we are using cutting-edge, text-mining tools to analyze thousands of proposals and reports submitted from 2007-2012. This approach is based on 100 strategically selected key words. We are discussing broader impacts at EAR staff meetings, and having conversations with individual program directors in EAR to get a sense of the diversity of cultures and values among programs related to broader impacts. We are also conducting panel surveys on broader impacts to get feedback from the principle investigator community. In this webinar, we will discuss the broader impacts criterion and provide some new information from our recent effort in EAR to identify gaps and improve impact.
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