Scientific Review Committee


Fair Day Instructions/Forms for SRC & DSC Violations

The process for Scientific Review Committee (SRC) and Display and Safety Committee (DSC) violation checks are completed during the registration and set-up times. To familiarize yourself with procedures please be sure to review this page carefully.

Project approvals will go much faster if there are no violations to begin with. Before attending the fair please take a moment to complete the checklists yourself and make sure you will be readily cleared for judging!

Download the Fair Day Instructions/Forms for SRC & DSC Violations (PDF)

Download the SRC Paperwork Review Rubric (pdf)
--this rubric used when paperwork is initially received.

Local SRCs should be formed to assist an ISEF Affiliated Fair SRC in reviewing and approving projects. The operation and composition of the local SRCs must fully comply with the Intel ISEF Rules.

NOTE: it is required that ALL projects involving humans, animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, and hazardous chemicals, activities or devices be approved before experimentation!

If you do NOT have a local SRC/IRB please contact the fair director before students begin experimentation.

It is important that students retain all original signed forms. Even though copies may have been sent with registration papers, students must bring original signed forms to the SSTFI in case an SRC interview is necessary.

NEVER send in original forms!! Always send copies and teachers/parents should always maintain a copy on file.

More on IRB's and SRC's BELOW:

The Institutional Review Board (IRB)

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that, according to federal regulations (45-CFR-46), must evaluate the potential physical or psychological risk of research involving human subjects. All proposed human research must be reviewed and approved by an IRB before experimentation begins. This includes any surveys or questionnaires to be used in a project.

Federal regulations require local community involvement; therefore an IRB should be established at the school level to evaluate human research projects. An IRB at the school or ISEF Affiliated Fair level must consist of a minimum of three members. In order to eliminate conflict of interest, the Adult Sponsor, parents, the Qualified Scientist, and the Designated Supervisor who oversee a specific project must not serve on the IRB reviewing that project. Additional members are recommended to help avoid this conflict of interest and to increase the expertise of the committee.

This IRB must include:

  • an educator
  • a school administrator (preferably a principal or vice principal)
  • and one of the following who is knowledgeable and capable of evaluating the physical and/or psychological risk involved in a given study:
    • a medical doctor,
    • physician’s assistant,
    • registered nurse,
    • a psychiatrist,
  • licensed psychologist, or
  • licensed social worker.

Additional Expertise: If the IRB needs an expert as one of its members and one is not in the immediate area, then documented contact with an external expert is appropriate and encouraged. A copy of the correspondence (e.g. email, fax, etc.) should be attached to Form 4 and can be used as the signature of that expert.

In order to eliminate conflict of interest, the Adult Sponsor, parents, the Qualified Scientist, and the Designated Supervisor who oversee a specific project must not serve on the IRB reviewing that project.  Additional members are recommended to help avoid this conflict of interest and to increase the expertise of the committee.

IRBs exist at federally registered institutions (e.g., universities, medical centers, NIH, correctional facilities). Prisoner advocates must be included on the IRB when research subjects are at a correctional facility. The institutional IRB must initially review and approve all proposed research conducted at or sponsored, by that institution. The Adult Sponsor and the local IRB are responsible for ensuring that the project is appropriate for a pre-college student and adheres to the ISEF rules.

An IRB generally makes the final determination of risk. However, in reviewing projects just prior to a fair, if an SRC judges an IRB’s decision as inappropriate, thereby placing human subjects in jeopardy, the SRC may override the IRB’s decision and the project may fail to qualify for competition.

The Scientific Review Committee (SRC)

A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a group of qualified individuals that is responsible for evaluation of student research, certifications, research plans and exhibits for compliance with the Rules and pertinent laws and regulations. Local SRCs may be formed to assist the ISEF Affiliated Fair SRC in reviewing and approving projects. The operation and composition of the Local and ISEF Affiliated Fair SRCs must fully comply with the International Rules.

Any proposed research in the following areas must be reviewed and approved BEFORE experimentation:

  • Projects involving vertebrates
  • Potentially hazardous biological agents
  • Controlled substances

NOTE: Human studies reviewed and approved by a properly constituted IRB do not have to be reviewed by the SRC until the Fair competition.

ALL projects must be reviewed and approved by the SRC after experimentation and shortly before competition in an ISEF-affiliated Fair competition. Projects requiring preapproval which were conducted at a regulated research institution (not home or high school, etc.) and which were reviewed and approved by the proper institutional board before experimentation must also be reviewed by the Fair SRC for rules compliance.

An SRC must consist of a minimum of three persons.

The SRC must include:

  1. a biomedical scientist (Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., or D.O.)
  2. an educator
  3. at least one other member

Additional Expertise: Many projects will require additional expertise to properly evaluate (for instance, extended knowledge of bio-safety or of human risk groups). If animal research is involved, at least one member must be familiar with proper animal care procedures. If the SRC needs an expert as one of its members and one is not in the immediate area, then documented contact with an external expert is appropriate and encouraged. If the student lives in a rural area and does not have access to a degreed biomedical scientist, the student or SRC must enlist the services of someone from another geographic area. The Rules and necessary forms should be sent to that person so he or she is familiar with the procedures.

In order to eliminate conflict of interest, the Adult Sponsor, parents, the Qualified Scientist, and the Designated Supervisor must not serve on the SRC reviewing that project. Additional members are recommended to help avoid this conflict of interest and to increase the expertise of the committee.

A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) examines projects for the following:

  • evidence of literature search
  • evidence of proper supervision
  • use of accepted research techniques
  • completed forms, signatures and dates showing maximum of one year duration of research and appropriate pre-approval dates (when needed)
  • evidence of search for alternatives to animal use
  • humane treatment of animals
  • compliance with rules and laws governing human and animal research
  • compliance with rules regarding potentially hazardous biological agents, controlled substances and hazardous substances and devices
  • documentation and substantial expansion for continuation projects
  • compliance with the ISEF ethics statement

Local SRCs should be formed to assist an ISEF Affiliated Fair SRC in reviewing and approving projects. The operation and composition of the local SRCs must fully comply with the Intel ISEF Rules.

NOTE: it is required that ALL projects involving humans, animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, and hazardous chemicals, activities or devices be approved before experimentation!

If you do NOT have a local SRC/IRB please contact the fair director before students begin experimentation.

It is important that students retain all original signed forms. Even though copies may have been sent with registration papers, students must bring original signed forms to the SSTFI in case an SRC interview is necessary.

NEVER send in original forms!!

Always send copies and teachers/parents should always maintain a copy on file.