Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) at NIU

NIU Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development is a local ARIS support office with team members extensively trained and certified in supporting broader impacts/societal impacts through the national ARIS project.

What are broader/societal impacts and why are they important?

The Broader Impacts section of your grant proposal shows how your research will benefit society and achieve specific outcomes. The National Science Foundation (NSF) places Broader Impacts on equal footing with Intellectual Merit when reviewing grant proposals (see more details about criteria below). In other words, Broader Impacts are not just a nice addition to research that advances knowledge in a field of study; they are an indispensable part of a success research proposal.

Visit the ARIS website for the full list of the NSF Types of Broader Impacts.

What is ARIS?

Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) advances the impacts of research for the betterment of society and the expansion of research. They elevate research impact by providing high-quality resources and professional development opportunities for researchers to address societal impact in their grant proposals and implementation. Extensive additional information regarding ARIS and Broader Impacts can be found at

How does NIU Outreach help researchers?

By creating connections among researchers, community partners, and engagement practitioners, ARIS at NIU ensures research impact. We help NIU faculty, department chairs, research deans and staff who want to submit NSF grants, support these grants, or are new to the university and want learn about including broader impacts or societal impact into their NSF grant proposals.

ARIS at NIU is here to help NIU faculty identify and develop the broader impacts of their research through high-quality resources and professional development opportunities. By creating connections among researchers, community partners and engagement practitioners, ARIS at NIU helps your research make a positive impact in the world.

Contact Amy Jo Clemens, Ed.D. at for more information and support when planning and implementing societal impact from research.


These four resources from ARIS help researchers meet and exceed expectations in NSF Broader Impacts and other societal impact requirements.

Broader Impacts and the NSF Grant Criteria

Broader Impacts are among the key elements required of a successful NSF proposal. Here are guiding questions provided by the NSF:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to:
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit)?
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Additional information about the NSF Broader Impacts requirements and proposal review can be found in Part III of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

Contact Us

Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development
307 Lowden Hall
Back to top