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SRC - How to Get Started

By: Benjamin Pollack

The following is a quick guide to understand Scientific Review Committee (SRC) guidelines:

In order to prepare for the SRC paperwork you need to realize that the SRC's goal is to protect you, your work, those affected by your work, and the integrity of the science community. Although there may seem to be a mountain of paperwork and rules to abide by, breaking the work down can make it a pretty painless process. I have heard SRC paperwork compared to filing taxes, but I promise that if you take your time and read the rules, it is possible to get through the forms.

I recommend that students seek the assistance of a science teacher, mentor, or school administrator in order to complete all of the forms. Also, this will make sure that the student as well as the adult sponsor are completing the forms correctly. The worst thing is that a student is disqualified for making a silly mistake and not filling out an important form. Students conducting research at a registered research institution or in an industrial setting (university, medical center, NIH, CDC, etc.), social science research, research involving hazardous material or vertebrates should pay particularly close attention to the forms as in my experience, the closest attention is focused on these areas.

NOTE: The SRC does thoroughly look over EVERY project so if your project does not fit into these categories, you are not off the hook.

What is the SRC?

Science Service describes the SRC as the following:

"A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a group of adults knowledgeable about regulations concerning experimentation especially in the following areas: vertebrate animals and potentially hazardous biological agents. The SRC must evaluate all projects in these areas before experimentation may begin. The Fair SRC will also review the documentation for ALL projects shortly before competition to ensure that students have followed all applicable rules and that the project is eligible to compete."

SRC is found at both the regional and international level so it is important to have all paperwork completed properly before entering the regional fair.

Preparing the Forms

TEACHERS AND STUDENTS SHOULD BECOME VERY FAMILIAR WITH THE SCIENCE SERVICE DOCUMENT LIBRARY: http://www.societyforscience.org/isef/document

The best way to tackle these forms is to start at number 1 and work your way to form 7. Not every project requires that every form is filled out. Separate the forms that the student needs to fill out, the adult sponsor must fill out, and the forms for the qualified scientist.

Begin to understand how the SRC works early on in your research as it will help you later on.

Following all of the rules and filling out all of the paperwork can be at times stressful and overwhelming for both teachers and students. Take it slowly and make sure you understand all of the rules before you begin experimentation.

Fill out Form 1 before you begin experimentation. This is also a great way to make sure your on the right track with your research and that you are not conducting research that could in any way harm you.

The first step in this process is getting approval to conduct the study. This should be done before the research is conducted. Think of this as your research proposal. In fact the form you need to complete (Form 1A) is called the Student Checklist/Research Plan. After completing the simple checklist, fill out the research plan. This is convenient as research plans are needed with any study. The SRC really is out to help you!!!

The next step is only for students working at a registered research institution or in an industrial setting. If this applies to you, then you need to fill out form 1C and the best part is you don't have to fill it out. Your mentor or supervisor (whoever directly supervises your work) needs to fill out this form. Based on horror stories I have heard over the years and in consideration of them, make sure your mentor has these forms before you conduct your research and that you give them ample time to fill it out. It is imperative to have this form as you MUST display it at your regional fair.

Form 2 is also for your mentor. It basically makes sure that you are being supervised by someone who knows what they are talking about. This point is magnified by the fact that if that qualified scientist cannot supervise you directly, then the person assigned to assist you has proper training. The best scenario and most common is that students who often work at a registered research institution such as a University have an undergraduate or graduate student supervise the student scientist as they have classes or other obligations during the period of research. The undergrad or grad student would need to be included on Form 2. As with Form 1C, make sure you have this form returned. It is for your own safety.

Form 3 is pretty much the same as form 1C and 2; it's for the qualified scientist to fill out.

Form 4 is possibly the form that requires the most attention. Out of all of the forms, students get in the most trouble with this form. The form requires Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.

This form MUST be completed prior to experimentation. Depending on the specifics of your study, you will probably have to present the human subject with this form. Also depending on age and risk, they may need consent from a parent or guardian. This form is important as it needs to follow federal guidelines. Also it is imperative that the risk level is assessed correctly. It is better to be safe than sorry. Also make sure all of your human subjects are presented with this form before experimentation begins. Keep all documentation even after the study ends.

Forms 5, 6A, and 6B are pretty much self-explanatory. Make sure you take your time and include everything relevant. Seek the advice of your mentor to make sure everything is completed correctly.

Form 7 is the project continuation form; make sure you specify the differences between the new and old materials. The SRC wants to see that you made a significant improvement to your research.

The abstract form listed in the Science Service document library should be used for the regional fair. Abstracts submitted to the regional fair should be no more than 250 words.

More information on writing abstracts can be found on the Science Buddies website.

The Abstract Form, Form 1C, and Form 7 (if applicable) need to be presented vertically at your board.

Good luck and remember Science Buddies is here to help!!!

A source that has been developed is the rules wizard: (DO not use this as a sole means of figuring out what forms you need)

Many fairs follow the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) rules: ISEF Rules and Guidelines