General guidance for applying the two merit review criteria can be found here. Both Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary, but neither by itself is sufficient.
Applicants are reviewed on their demonstrated potential to advance knowledge and to make significant research achievements and contributions to their fields throughout their careers. Reviewers are asked to assess applications using a holistic, comprehensive approach, giving balanced consideration to all components of the application, including the educational and research record, leadership, outreach, service activities, and future plans, as well as individual competencies, experiences, and other attributes. The aim is to recruit and retain a diverse cohort of early-career individuals with high potential for future achievements, contributions, and broader impacts in STEM and STEM education.
For the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts criteria, reviewers may consider:
Intellectual Merit: The potential of the applicant to advance knowledge based on a holistic review of the entire application.
Broader Impacts: The potential of the applicant or the research results to impact the field of study, benefit society, or contribute to the achievement of specific, desired outcomes based on a review of the entire application.