Scientific Review Committee (SRC)
What is SRC?
Many science fairs have a group of people called a Scientific Review Committee (or SRC) 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 also reviews the completed project displays. Typically, a Scientific Review Committee is composed of at least three people: a biomedical scientist, a physical scientist, and a science teacher.
Some fairs also have an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which reviews all proposed projects that in any way involve human beings. An IRB's purpose is to ensure that the project will not present undue risk to the subjects.
Does My Project Need Pre-Approval Before I Begin My Experiment?
Some project areas require approval BEFORE experimentation begins. Most fairs that require such pre-approval follow the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) rules: ISEF Rules and Guidelines
Because the ISEF rules can be rather intimidating, we have prepared a summary of the key sections to help you get started:
- Human Subjects (including projects involving the use of psychological surveys)
- Hazardous Substances or Devices (including model rockets, drugs, alcohol, and many other chemicals)
- Nonhuman Vertebrate Animals
- Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents (microorganisms, recombinant DNA (rDNA) technologies, or human or animal fresh tissues, blood, or body fluids)
If your project involves any of the above, you should investigate your fair's SRC requirements BEFORE you begin experimentation.
Different fairs have different rules for what requires SRC approval. Check with the fair you intend to enter.