Establishing BIR, ROI, and Impact

Establishing a broader impacts organization, office, unit, or network that focuses on all the aspects of broader impacts, specific types of broader impacts, or agency broader impacts such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) can be a daunting task. This could also include international universities who consider establishing offices that focus on societal benefits in general, in research, in some aspect as it pertains to a broader-impacts like concept/term/phrase, or a combination of the three.

Based off requests locally, nationally, and internationally related to the construction and development of the Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) organization, a summary of items is provided to consider when developing an organization such as BIR. In addition, some basic data is provided which shows BIR’s Return On Investment (ROI) and impact. This is accompanied by brief explanations of the evaluation/assessment strategies used to obtain the data. If information is provided, it will be found below in the blue highlighted links. Expect more links to be provided in the future. Note, this is not a comprehensive explanation of all aspects of BIR. If more details are wanted or to request an institutional consultation, please email Dr. Michael Thompson at

The Broader Impacts in Research organization began as a Proof Of Concept (POC) or in the Tier 1 phase. There are three Tiers and BIR is currently ending Tier 1 and moving into the Tier 2 phase. Tier 1 or POC typically lasts between three (3) to five (5) years. To ensure successful navigation through the POC phase, BIR established a series of at least seventeen (17) tasks and efforts that needed to be addressed and completed every year.


In the Tier 1 phase these primary efforts were to:

i.                set up a viable, flexible, sustainable, and evolving infrastructure to meet university and faculty needs;

ii.               determine an organizational model, establish vision, mission, and value propositions;

iii.             determine the number of primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences;

iv.              establish a presence throughout the University and the State as a broader impacts organization;

v.               help faculty with all aspects of NSF broader impacts;

vi.             help the university and state to understand broader impacts in general;

vii.            establish the trajectory for successfully moving from Tier 1 to the Tier 3 phase;

viii.          determine and show the Return On Investment (ROI);

ix.             establish evaluative and assessment protocols and strategies to determine sustainability;

x.              develop a research-based scholarly approach to practice as it pertains to achieving societal benefit;

xi.             develop relationships and partnerships with administrative leaders;

xii.           develop an understanding and appreciation of faculty needs at the university (start doing this immediately!!!);

xiii.          establish a university communication and response plan;

xiv.          understand university structure and the research office;

xv.           assess if the organization has a positive impact on the university, state, and national culture;

xvi.         determine the impact path of the organization;

xvii.       develop an annual report for upper administration summarizing i-xvi with appropriate examples and data, how they specifically link to upper administartion's strategic plan or strategic action plan and university initiatives, the specific goals from the previous year that enabled the organization to achieve these efforts and how they were accomplished, the specific goals for the next year, unexpected opportunities and challenges, and long-term goals in five and ten years.