ARIS Toolkit Quickstart

Learn to how the ARIS Toolkit can help you communicate the societal impacts of your research.

  • How can my work benefit society?
  • How can it help solve challenges facing communities?
  • How can I partner with communities to expand the exchange of information, ideas, and expertise in ways that benefit society?

The ARIS toolkit supports STEM researchers in planning and applying effective strategies to explain their work.

ARIS Toolkit Overview

The Toolkit helps researchers find innovative ways to share the exciting science and engineering innovative research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a broader range of audiences. Not only is this important to meet the requirements of the funders (NSF), but it is critical in an era of increased skepticism about the impact and value of science and a time when we need to build a competent and productive STEM workforce.

This work is beneficial to researchers who are responsible for driving discovery, to practitioners who collaborate with researchers and community stakeholders, and to the public who benefit from research and education advancements.

The ARIS toolkit helps researchers partner with communities to think about their research beyond just communicating with their peers.

We get it… oftentimes, researchers do not have formal training in science communication. Your expertise is in science itself! The toolkit will provide meaningful tools that help you think about the bigger picture of how your work can benefit society and how you can work with communities and the public to understand and sometimes even participate in university research.

So… let’s get started!

You can also download a pdf version of our Welcome to the Toolkit to share with colleagues.


How do I use these tools?

The tools in the ARIS Toolkit will help you plan, develop, and assess the rigor of your Broader Impact plan. These tools are designed to assist researchers with the development and assessment of plans that accompany research proposals submitted to the NSF and will include video resources, tutorials, example case studies, rubrics to help assess their work, and checklists to help them apply established effective practices from the education and outreach field.

Help me learn about Broader Impacts...

The BI Wizard offers examples of NSF’s 10 areas of investment in BI. Check out the BI Wizard's program elements page: How is my research relevant to society? This page provides examples of NSF projects and how they map to the 10 investment areas.

Yes, the The ARIS Guiding Principles document provides details on the five questions BI plans should address. It breaks down each of the five criteria NSF reviewers are instructed to use to review the BI portion of a proposal. It includes principles and questions to consider when developing a plan to address the criteria.

The BI Wizard provides support in defining the key elements of an effective BI plan and provides guidance based on the experience of ARIS BI professionals. Use the 4 minute introduction video for more information about the BI Wizard and an introduction to constructing effective BI projects.

The Partners section of the Wizard will help provide guidance on identifying appropriate and high-quality partner(s) to accomplish BI goals. Sometimes partners will help you develop and deliver the activity and sometimes your partners are representatives of your target audience who are the intended beneficiary of the BI activity. In addition, sometimes you will work with existing relationships in your university or college, and other times you might seek a new partner (local community organization, non-profit, etc.) to achieve a specific goal or objective.

One of the most important things to consider is the needs of the audience you are engaging. Understanding the audiences' needs and motivations for working with you will not only make a more compelling case (rationale) for funding your BI project, it will make for a positive connection and experience when funded. Visit the BI Target Audience page to watch a short video on how to engage audiences. The video reviews some of the characteristics of target audiences and how you might think about the contact time and audience size when choosing a project.

To assist researchers and project proposal writers develop effective Broader Impact projects, we have compiled a number of relevant references to assist you in your planning. These literature connections align with general Target Audiences.

We suggest you visit the How much will this cost? section of the BI Wizard to get a quick tutorial in BI costs There, you will find three examples of commonly conceived BI activities. These items are meant to be examples to help provide perspective on budgeting for Broader Impacts.

A truly successful BI project engages people outside your field to understand the relevance of your research. BI activities are an excellent mechanism to not only engage the public, but also to demonstrate accountability with public funds. The BI Wizard has a page dedicated to developing an evaluation plan, where you can find evaluation resources that help tell the story of the impact of your BI project.

Help me write my BI plan...

The BI Wizard will walk you through the development of an outline for your plan in five steps. The information is saved in your browser but not on our server to protect your IP!

YES. Use our BI Checklist to see if you included all the major components of a great BI project in your proposal. You can use this checklist to check off the items you have addressed in your plan. Click on the checkbox to turn on/off items in the checklist. Then, review the items you have not addressed, and consider adding text to your proposal to address them.

Help me... I am a proposal reviewer!

Access our BI Rubric to benchmark and review your proposal. If you are not familiar with BI, use the Guiding Principles document to get familiar with the questions.

We encourage you to start with our BI Rubric Tutorial, which will help you learn how to apply the BI Rubric in preparation for a panel review. You can also access our BI Rubric to assist you in benchmarking and reviewing individual proposals. If you are not familiar with BI, please check out the Guiding Principles document to become familiar with the key questions used in the BI Rubric.

More about the ARIS Toolkit

For more information about this project and the developemnt history of the BI Wizard, please see the About Us page.

This work is part the Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), funded by the National Science Foundation. Established in 2018, ARIS is housed at the University of Missouri-Columbia and is responsible for developing a collaborative network of broader impacts professionals across the United States. The ARIS Center emphasizes support for serving traditionally underserved populations while providing inclusive public engagement to ensure a diverse science workforce.

In 2021, we began a new 3-year project with ten universities to further develop and field test these tools.

2021 Cohort 2022 Cohort 2023 Cohort
Penn State
University of Texas - Dallas
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
TBD TBD