Scientific Review Committee / Institutional Review Board

The Scientific Review Committee (SRC) and Institutional Review Board (IRB) play an important part in maintaining the integrity and safety of the fair.  This page includes important information on SRC/IRB processes.  If you have questions about SRC/IRB please check this page to see if your question has already been answered.  Links to the official ISEF rules and forms are at the bottom of this page.  If you still have questions then contact the SRC for more help.

Table of Contents:

  • General Notes and Tips
  • Human Subjects Projects
  • Nonhuman Vertebrate Projects
  • Pathogens
  • Hazardous Substances and Devices
  • SRC/IRB Links

General Notes and Tips:

  • Basic forms from ISEF rules required for all projects include:
    • Checklist for Adult Sponsor
    • Student Checklist 1A
    • Research Plan Instructions
    • Approval Form 1B

These basic forms do not include the extra forms required for humans, nonhumans, pathogens, hazardous substances and devices, tissue, research in institutions other than schools, and continuation projects.

  • Fill out SRC checklist (PDF version).
  • Fill out IRB Checklist (PDF version).
  • Quality control  Link to Missing Data Form
  • Forms MUST be filled out in INK, no Pencil!
  • Send copies of the SRC/IRB forms, keep originals with you.
  • Make sure to read all the rules first and then ask questions if something is not understood.
  • Procedures must be detailed. Please use the guidelines under Research Plan Instructions of the Rules for writing a complete research plan. Brief procedures will slow down the SRC/IRB approval process.  You must discuss how you will do Data Analysis.
  • If you fax your project information to SRC/IRB please verify that it was received.
  • If you are faxing more than 15 pages please call first to let SRC know it is coming.
  • Very important that the Teacher's name, phone number, and email address be identified somewhere on the forms in case of questions or problems.  The Fax cover sheet is a good place for this.
  • Expect the average turn around time to be 7-10 days.
  • Form 1A:
    • The start date on Form 1A should include any SRC approval time.
    • The end date on Form 1A can be left blank or set at the date of the MCSF.
  • Form 1B:
    • Form 1B should be signed in the appropriate places before submittal.
  • Form 1C:
    • Form 1C (if needed) should have the top portion filled out, the remainder can be blank but needs to be completed by the time of the fair.
  • The DEADLINE for submitting SRC/IRB forms is February 9, 2018.

Human Subjects Projects:

  1. Human Participation Form (4) and Human Informed Consent Form Required
  2. Must have IRB approval - this may slow down return time.
  3. When writing procedures use the 6 steps (Research Plan Instructions) under Human participants research. Following this format will speed up the review process.

Nonhuman Vertebrate Projects:

  1. Most Projects cannot be done at Home.
  2. Exceptions to this may be projects that involve family pets.
  3. Follow the 6 bullets - Need to have detailed descriptions of experiments.
  4. Handling and care is VERY important and should be documented carefully.
  5. Care and Feeding schedules, etc. should be documented as well.  Must include an explanation regarding invertebrate alternatives.


  1. Aseptic technique.
  2. The handling procedures should be recorded in the student's own words.
  3. Disposal/clean-up methods must be documented.
  4. All projects cannot be done at Home and require pre-approval.
  5. A risk assessment is required for all projects in these research areas (this includes levels of biological containment).  Essentially, biosafety 1 research may be conducted in a high school with a trained Designated Supervisor.
  6. All projects involving Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents require Hazardous Risk Assessment Form (6A).  Projects involving tissues, including blood and blood projects require a 6B.
  7. Projects involving Unknown Microorganisms (i.e. those collected from the environment) have additional rules and restrictions.

Hazardous Substances and Devices:

  1. Need to have detailed descriptions of experiments.
  2. Hazardous Substances (chemicals) must include Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)/Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
  3. Hazardous Devices, include description of the device and how it is used.
  4. A risk assessment (Form 3) is required for all projects.

Links to the ISEF:

For detailed explanations of rules and links to the required forms please visit the ISEF website.

For more information of clarification of questions contact the SRC or the IRB.