Most proposed research projects involving vertebrate animals, potentially hazardous biological agents, and DEA-controlled substances must be reviewed and approved BEFORE experimentation. For Senior Division projects, this review and approval must come from a Scientific Review Committee (SRC). A SRC is a group of qualified individuals that is responsible for evaluating the proposed research plan to ensure compliance with the rules, applicable laws, and regulations. This evaluation is for the safety of the student and others involved in the research, as well as the health and welfare of vertebrate animal subjects.
A student’s school SRC usually evaluates and approves the project. It is generally best to ask one of the science teachers at the school whether the school has a SRC. If the school does not have a SRC, one can be formed by asking a teacher, an administrator, and a specialist in the project’s field to serve as the SRC. Regardless of which SRC is used, the project must be approved BEFORE experimentation begins.
The USEF SRC will also review the documentation for these projects shortly before competition to ensure that students have followed all applicable rules and that the project is eligible to compete.
After the forms have been reviewed, the SRC will deliberate, resulting in one of the following decisions:
If a project is approved, the SRC chairperson signs the appropriate box on the Approval Form (1B). The approved forms will be returned to students as soon as possible, so that they can begin experimentation.
The SRC Chairperson will provide the student and sponsor with a list of reasons for disapproval and suggestions for changes needed for approval. If suitable corrections are made, the revised project forms should be re- reviewed. If the project is approved, the student and sponsor will be notified immediately so that the student can begin experimentation.
Some projects are unethical or should not be done by pre-college students. Examples would be projects designed to kill vertebrate animals, toxicity studies using vertebrate animals, improper treatment of animals, proposed use of pathogens at home, violations in the use of controlled substances, and lack of appropriate supervision. Students may not grow any type of bacteria at home. The SRC will notify the student and sponsor promptly and provide them with a complete list of reasons the project may not be done.
The USEF SRC is required to reconvene before the fair to review and approve all projects with supporting documentation. The USEF members will carefully review all documentation, particularly for research that required prior review and approval. If the project documentation does not attest to this prior review and approval, the project is in violation of the International Rules and may not be eligible for ISEF.