NSF Broader Impacts Broadened

UPDATE: According to Science Insider, in addition to not listing specific broader impacts, the NSB recommended in its report, NSF Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions, flexibility in how these are measured (and by whom):

NSB notes that assessing the effectiveness and impact of outcomes of these activities one project at a time may not be meaningful, particularly if the size of the activity is limited. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of activities designed to advance broader societal goals may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project. Large, campus-wide activities or aggregated activities of multiple PIs could lend themselves to assessment, which should be supported by NSF.

According to Mervis, the changes should be incorporated in the January 2013 version of the Grant Proposal Guide.

Last summer, NSF sought input on merit review criteria for intellectual merit and broader impacts. Nature News now reports that the task force assigned to tweaking these presented its final report, which “kept the wording for the two criteria essentially the same as before” (i.e., no list of specific activities), to the National Science Board, which is likely to approve the recommendations. Another good outcome: NSF Director Subra Suresh indicated that “One thing that remains to be done is finding the right balance in shouldering the responsibility of broader impacts between principal investigator and institution.” Here-here.

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