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Scientific Review Committee

What is the SRC? What is the IRB?

How do I know if I need SRC approval BEFORE I begin my project?

What forms are required for my project?

What are the changes to the forms and rules that I need to know about for this year?

Who can I ask for guidance?

Tips for avoiding an interview at CSEF.

What if I need to make a change in my project procedures after I have received SRC approval to begin?

Why are we so strict about the forms and SRC approvals?


What is the SRC? What is the IRB?

The term SRC is actually used two ways. The acronym SRC stands for Scientific Review Committee, so one meaning refers to the group of people who form a committee that reviews each project application to ensure that all safety and legal requirements will be met and that the appropriate forms have been completed. The committee is composed of at least three people: a biomedical scientist, a science teacher and one other member.

SRC also refers to the process of a project being reviewed. You may ask if a project "requires SRC approval" or if it has "passed SRC." In Colorado, there are three to four levels of SRC review that a student's project may need to pass through for competition purposes.

1st is the local or school SRC - depending upon the type of project the student is working on, the procedures must be approved by the local SRC before a student may begin working on the experimental portion of their project. This group may require a student to refine or change their procedures for safety or ethical reasons.

2nd is the regional SRC - this group of people will review the student's paperwork for compliance with the rules set forth by the International Rules and Guidelines for Pre-College Research and paperwork completion. If this group feels that there was a serious breach of ethical or safety protocols when the student did their project, they can deem the project has failed to qualify and not allow it to compete - even if a local SRC/IRB approved the project.

3rd is the state SRC - this group of people will review the paperwork for the students who have qualified to compete at the state level for compliance with the rules set forth by the International Rules and Guidelines for Pre-College Research and paperwork completion. If this group feels that there was a serious breach of ethical or safety protocols when the student did their project, they can deem the project has failed to qualify and not allow it to compete - even if a regional SRC approved the project.

4th is the international SRC - this group of people will review the paperwork for the students who have qualified to compete at the international level for compliance with the rules set forth by the International Rules and Guidelines for Pre-College Research and paperwork completion. If this group feels that there was a serious breach of ethical or safety protocols when the student did their project, they can deem the project has failed to qualify and not allow it to compete - even if a state SRC approved the project.

In addition to being reviewed by an SRC, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews all proposed projects that in any way involve human beings to ensure that the project will not present an excessive amount of risk to the subjects. An IRB is composed of at least three people: a science teacher, a school administrator and a psychologist, doctor (MD) or nurse (RN).

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How do I know if I need SRC approval BEFORE I begin my project?

All Colorado Regional Science Fairs and the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair follow the rules of the International Science and Engineering Fair. Science Service, the organization that administers the Intel ISEF, has created the on-line ISEF Rules Wizard to help you determine what forms and approvals you may need for your type of project.

CSEF has also commandeered this handy flow chart that will also aid you in deciding if you need prior SRC approval.

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What forms are required for my project?

See the ISEF Paperwork Guidelines web page for complete information on what forms are required for the various types of projects. You can also use the on-line ISEF Rules Wizard to guide you through the process.

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What are the changes to the forms and rules that I need to know about for this year?

The Intel ISEF SRC has made the following change/modifications to the rules and guidelines for 2013/2014:

  • Students are prohibited from culturing CRE (Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriacae).
  • Added studies with microbial fuel cells to the list of Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents studies requiring Form 3.
  • Added studies of mushrooms and amoeboza (slime mold) and studies of water and soil not concentrated in media conducive to their growth to the list of Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents studies exempt from SRC review.
  • Expanded guidance on use of Radiation.
  • Changed the title of Form 7 to “Continuation/Research Progression Projects Form”.

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Who can I ask for Guidance?

The CSEF SRC is made up of a group of adults knowledgeable about regulations concerning experimentation in restricted areas. The CSEF SRC reviews and approves the Checklist for Adult Sponsors (1), the Research Plan (1A), including the Research Plan Attachment, and the Approval Form (1B) in addition to all other required required forms for students who enter the CSEF. They also identify problems regional science fairs may be having and work with fair directors and teachers to resolved them.

If regional fair director, regional SRC member, or teacher has any questions concerning the process, feel free to contact a member of the CSEF SRC for clarification.

Doug Everett - National Jewish Medical and Research Center
Areas of Expertise: Human Subjects Research; Physiology & Medicine; Statistics; Mathematics
Jennifer Heiller - University of Colorado, Denver
Area of Expertise:
Steve Iona

Areas of Expertise: Physics; Mathematics; Statistics; Chemistry
Ron Kollars - Campus West Vets
Area of Expertise: Veterinary Medicine
Jody Oaks - San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center
Areas of Expertise:
Katie Propst
Area of Expertise: Microbiology
Rodney Simpson - Colorado State University Postdoctoral Fellow at NREL
Areas of Expertise: Microbiology; Ecology
Doug Steward - SRC Chair; Monte Vista High School
Areas of Expertise: Biological Sciences; Agriculture Science; Aquaculture; Ecology

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Tips for Avoiding an SRC Interview at CSEF

Double check all dates and signatures.
Before you start your project, determine whether you may need a qualified scientist and/or designated supervisor.
When using animals, microbes, or possibly toxic or caustic substances in your research, be certain that the laboratory setting is adequate. You should not be doing these type of experiments at home!
Get consent forms from all human subjects used in your research PRIOR to experimentation.
Make sure all forms are included with your registration packet that is sent on to CSEF. See the flow charts on the ISEF Paperwork Guidelines page.
Be sure that your adult sponsor and/or qualified scientist is not signing off as an IRB or SRC member.

It is important that students retain all original signed forms. Even though copies may have been sent with registration papers, students should bring original signed forms to the CSEF in case an SRC interview is necessary. Do not send original forms to CSEF.

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What if I need to make a change in my project procedures after I have received SRC approval to begin?

Have your adult sponsor contact your local SRC and explain what you need to change and why.
Do NOT proceed with your project until you have received further approval from the SRC.

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Why are we so strict about the forms and SRC approvals?

  • Student safety.
  • Compliance with federal and state laws.
  • Avoidance of legal/litigation issues.
  • Compliance with the Intel ISEF rules. Winners at the CSEF may also compete in:
    • Intel ISEF (grades 9 - 12)
    • I-SWEEP (grades 9 - 12)
    • Intel Science Talent Search (grade 12)
    • Broadcom MASTERS Competition (grades 6 - 8)

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Last modified 1/29/14