All projects involving:Non-Human vertebrate animals, Human/Animal Tissue, Recombinant DNA, Pathogens
, Human Subjects, Controlled Substances, Hazardous Substances or Hazardous Devices MUST obtain project approval by the SRC prior to starting the project.
Failure to obtain prior approval may result in Failure to Qualify at SARSEF and ISEF competition.
These are the tough rules that can prohibit you from competition at SARSEF or result in a drastic modification of your project board. The official committees are sanctioned by SSP (Soceity for Science & the Public) and include the Scientific Review Committee (SRC) & Institutional Review Board (IRB).
These groups monitor and maintain the safety of our students and those around them during their projects. SARSEF provides a joint SRC/IRB for all competitors in the Southern Arizona Region. K-8 Schools are encouraged to form their own SRC or IRB within the SARSEF region. They must follow the make-up of the committee as defined by SSP. It is recommended to use the SARSEF SRC/IRB for clarity and assurance that the project is properly reviewed if there is any question.
Scientific Review Committee (SRC)
As defined by SSP:
“A Scientific Review Committee (SRC) is a group of adults knowledgeable about regulations concerning experimentation especially in the following areas: vertebrate animals, pathogenic agents, controlled substances and recombinant DNA. 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.”
An SRC consists of a minimum of three members. It must include at least: a biomedical scientist (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., D.O.), a science teacher and one other member. At least one member must be familiar with proper animal care procedures when reviewing projects using vertebrate animals. 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 SRC reviewing that project.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) Rules
As defined by SSP: “An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that, according to federal regulations (45-CFR-46), must evaluate the potential physical and/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 review of any surveys or questionnaires to be used in a project."
SARSEF has a combined SRC/IRB committee and reviews projects involving human subjects. To serve as an IRB, an SRC must also include the members required in a properly constituted IRB. The SRC/IRB review process is “intended to ensure the safety of students, to protect the subjects and environments studied, and to limit the liability of the adults who assist with the projects.” All SRC/IRB members are familiar with the International Rules and the Operational Guidelines for SRC/IRB, as well as any pertinent federal regulations. When reviewing research plans, SRC/IRB members ‘use their best professional judgment coupled with good common sense. They counsel and instruct students and help correct violations whenever possible.’
How You Get SRC & IRB Approval
SARSEF Scientific Review Committee (SRC)
For an excellent review of the use of microbes, click here
The SRC is mandated by our affiliation with the ISEF. Individual schools should setup their own SRC. It is strongly recommended that all projects, at any grade level, involving Human Subjects must be approved, in advance, by the SRC. The SARSEF K-8 SRC form should be completed and signed by the school SRC/IRB Chair or Principal (in most cases).
The SARSEF SRC/IRB is properly constituted according to the affiliation requirements, and the committee has access to University of Arizona faculty who serve as adjunct members. They also have access to other specialty faculty if there are questions of safety beyond the committee's expertise. There can be no exceptions to compliance with SRC prior review and approval regardless of the age of the student.
Many questions can be answered by an e-mail or phone call to Dr. Paula Johnson (D.V.M.) at 621-3483. She can advise methods that will lead to approval or counsel the student in a direction that will not run the risk of rejection by the SRC. Even after the phone call, if the project involves any of the SRC categories, approval must be obtained in writing, on the SARSEF K-8 SRC form or High School ISEF forms, before research is initiated. This applies to Kindergarten through High School. This simple step can save potential conflict and embarrassment, and worse, failure to be allowed to exhibit at SARSEF. When in doubt, e-mail or call Dr. Johnson (e-mail: SRC@sarsef.org, phone 621-3483, or send to SARSEF SRC/
SARSEF Director 3247 N. Christmas Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85716
) with any questions.
Please, Do NOT send by Certified Mail.
ISEF Forms (including SRC and IRB for HighSchool), click here
Click Here for an IRB Suggested Format