Missouri State University

Tips to Avoid Common Errors

This year's Fair dates are April 4-6, 2017! Deadline for entries is Friday, March 10, 2017.

Doing the paperwork for a Science Fair project can take quite a bit of time, but these forms are REQUIRED because OSEF is affiliated with the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). The following information is provided to assist teachers and students in filling out the forms in less time and with fewer frustrating mistakes. See the complete, official rules for more information.

Getting Started: click to see what you need and what to avoid!

ALL Projects
Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents
Human Subjects
Nonhuman Vertebrate Animals
Hazardous Chemicals, Activities, or Devices

All Projects:

Forms 1, 1A, 1B, and a research plan are REQUIRED on EVERY project, and what you put on Form 1 determines what other forms are also required. The information below is a summary; please look at the rules for all projects for more complete information.

  • Form 1
    • Fully complete Form 1, parts 1-5 BEFORE experimentation.
    • If you check any of the boxes in part 4, you will need the additional forms listed in part 6.
    • If you check either of the bottom two boxes in part 5, you will have to fill out the forms listed.
    • The adult sponsor is usually the student's teacher. See ISEF Roles and Responsibilities for more information.
  • Form 1A
    • Part 5: Your project will need preapproval if your research includes Hazardous Biological Agents, Human Subjects, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Chemicals, or Potentially Hazardous Devices.
    • Part 7: You must indicate the PROJECTED start and end dates (the dates you plan to start and end your laboratory/field research).
  • Form 1B
    • Every person needs this form, including all team members.
    • Part 2: This is required BEFORE you begin your experimentation only if your research includes Hazardous Biological Agents, Human Subjects, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Chemicals, or Potentially Hazardous Devices. It is important that the dates of all preapproval signatures are BEFORE the start date you listed for experiment/data collection.
    • Part 3: This will be completed by the OSEF SRC when you submit your completed project.
  • Research Plan
    • All projects require part 2 a-d. The bottom sections are necessary only if your research includes Hazardous Biological Agents, Human Subjects, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Chemicals, or Potentially Hazardous Devices.

    Most Common Errors

    • Forms are not completely filled out.
    • Boxes are not checked properly.
    • Five major references are not included in the bibliography.
    • The proposed start and end dates are not included on form 1A.

Return to Top of Page


Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents (PHBA)

Projects that include potentially hazardous biological agents may require additional forms. The information below is a summary; please look at the ISEF rules for Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents for complete descriptions and information.

  • Some studies require PRIOR APPROVAL from the SRC and form 6A/6B, including studies involving the culturing of potentially hazardous microorganisms (including but not limited to bacteria, viruses, viroids, prions, rickettsia, recombinant DNA, fresh or frozen human or animal tissue, blood, or body fluids). See ISEF rules for a complete list of microorganisms that would necessitate prior approval and additional forms. Standard microbiological handling practices MUST be used when working with cultured organisms.
  • Some studies are exempt form prior SRC review but require Risk Assessment Form 3, including research using manure in non-culturing experiments, some commercially available water test kits, some decomposition studies, and studies with microbial fuel cells (see ISEF rules for a complete list).
  • Some types of studies are exempt from prior SRC review and require no additional forms, including the use of baker's or brewer's yeast not in a recombinant DNA study, some water and soil studies, some food mold studies, and some E. coli studies done at school (see ISEF rules for a complete list).

Forms and information needed if you are working with PHBA (in addition to forms for all projects)

  • Additional Information needed on these forms:
    • Form 1 - Check appropriate boxes in parts 4 and 6.
    • Form 1A - Check appropriate boxes in  part 5.
    • Research Plan - Add information required in part 3 on the bottom section of the research plan instructions.
    • Form 1B - For projects that need prior approval, Part 2 must be completed by the SRC BEFORE experimentation begins.
  • Additional Forms you may need:
    • Form 1C - Required if work was conducted or equipment used at an institution or industrial setting (a setting other than home, school, or the field) at any time during the current ISEF project year.
    • Form 2 - Qualified Scientist form is required for work with Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents (see the ISEF Rules for a description of the Qualified Scientist and Designated Supervisor). If the Qualified Scientist cannot be present during experimentation, you MUST have a Designated Supervisor fill out the bottom right hand box on this form.
    • Form 3 - Required for projects using PHBA that are exempt from pre-approval.
    • Form 6A - Required for projects needing SRC/IRB approval.
    • Form 6B - Required for projects involving human or animal tissue.

Most Common Errors

  • Boxes are not checked properly .
    • on Student Checklist form 1A, part 8, DO NOT check the 'home' box. You can collect your samples at home, you can streak plates or inoculate broth at home, but you cannot incubate or work with microbial cultures in your home.
  • Required forms are missing.
  • SRC approval dates on Form 1B are not before experimentation dates on Form 1A.
  • The qualified scientist must have earned a doctorate degree in an appropriate discipline that would qualify them to oversee the experiment. Alternatively, the Qualified Scientist  must have a master's degree and sufficient work experience in an area that is related to the specific project.
  • The Research Plan procedure descriptions are vague and do not make sense. The Research Plan should be a detailed description of your research method or procedure. After you have written out your procedure, go over it with your qualified scientist or supervisor to verify that you have written out the procedure correctly and in sufficient detail.

Return to Top of Page


 

Human Subjects

Most projects that include human subjects require preapproval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and some additional forms. Some students avoid human research our of fear of complications and/or paperwork. Even if your work does require additional forms, the information below can help you through it. Keep in mind that this information is a summary and you should read the ISEF rules for Human Participants  for complete information.

  • All projects involving humans require Risk Assessment: Go to the ISEF Human Participants Rules and scroll down to Risk Assessment for an excellent description of the rules, or go to the Risk Assessment Guide for a more complete discussion of Risk Assessment.
  • Most Human participant studies require preapproval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and informed consent/assent. See page 5 and 6 of the complete ISEF Rules for a description of the IRB: These studies include, but are not limited to, subjects participating in a physical activity, opinion surveys, studies in which the researcher is the subject, having others test a student's invention, and more (see ISEF rules for a complete list). If changes are made to the Research Plan after IRB approval, the changes must be submitted to the IRB board before continuing the study.
  • Some studies involving humans are exempt from IRB preapproval or additional forms: Testing of a student-designed prototype involving only the student researcher and not involving risk, studies that are based on simple observations of legal public behavior, publicly available data,  and more (see ISEF rules for a complete list).

Forms needed if you are working with Human Subjects (in addition to forms for all projects)

  • Additional information needed on these forms:
    • Form 1 - Check appropriate boxes on parts 4 and 6.
    • Form 1A - Check appropriate boxes on part 5.
    • Research Plan - Add information described in the research plan instructions (bottom part 1).
    • Form 1B - For projects that need prior approval, Part 2 must be completed by the IRB BEFORE experimentation begins.
  • Additional Forms you may need:
    • Form 1C, You need this form if work was conducted or equipment used at an institution or industrial setting (a setting other than home, school, or the field) at any time during the current ISEF project year.
    • Form 2 - Qualified Scientist form, when required by the IRB. If the Qualified Scientist cannot directly supervise the student, a designated supervisor is required and must fill out the bottom right hand box on this form.
    • Form 4 - Human Participants form.
    • Human Informed Consent Form.
      • Participants 18 and older must give consent.
      • Participants under the age of 18 must give assent, and parent/guardian must give permission.

Most Common Errors

  • Boxes are not checked properly or forms are incomplete.
  • Missing IRB signature on Form 1B part 2a.
  • Not including a psychologist or psychiatrist on the IRB when the study concerns behavior: if your school needs help with this issue, please contact the Missouri State Psychology Department.
  • Not assessing risk adequately: See the ISEF Risk Assessment Guide.
  • IRB not meeting as a group: The IRB must meet as a group to discuss the proposal. Too often, students walk their proposals around for signatures and careful consideration of the proposals does not occur.
  • Not including necessary information in the research plan - see the bottom half of the Research Plan Instructions.
  • Omitting the start and end dates for the study in the Research Plan.

Return to Top of Page


 

Nonhuman Vertebrate Animals

The rules for vertebrate animal research are in place to help you adhere to federal regulations and to protect the welfare of the researcher and the animal subjects. Most vertebrate animal studies require prior SRC approval; the only exceptions are behavioral observation studies in which there is no interaction with the animals, no manipulation of the environment, and state and federal laws are followed. Additionally, some vertebrate animal research projects must be conducted at a regulated research institution; see the ISEF vertebrate animal rules.

  • Additional information needed on these forms:
    • Form 1 - Check appropriate boxes on parts 4 and 6.
    • Form 1A - Check appropriate boxes on part 5.
    • Research Plan - Add information described in the research plan instructions (bottom part 2).
    • Form 1B - Part 2 is required BEFORE experimentation begins.
  • Additional Forms that may be needed:
    • Form 1C - Required if you worked in a regulated research institution.
    • Form 2 - Qualified Scientist Form, if research is conducted in a regulated research institution or when required by the IRB/SRC. If the Qualified Scientist cannot directly supervise the student, a designated supervisor is required and must fill out the bottom right hand box on Form 2.
    • Form 5A or 5B- Required for all vertebrate animal research conducted at home, school, or in the field (A) or in a regulated research institution (B).
    • Form 6A and 6B - Required if your project involves tissues or body fluids.

Most Common Errors

  • Boxes are not checked properly or forms are incomplete.
  • Designated supervisor did not directly supervise the student.
  • Designated supervisor did not sign Form 2 or Form 5.
  • Did not include an animal care reference as one of your five major references.
  • Start date on Form 1A is not after SRC approval.
  • You should include information that a 15% weight loss or growth retardation will cause immediate termination of the project.
  • Research Plan is not detailed enough.
  • Amount/dose of compounds given to animals is not detailed in the Research Plan.

Return to Top of Page


 

Chemicals and Devices

Your first job is to know the definitions of hazardous chemicals, activities, and devices. DEA controlled substances, prescription drugs, and even lasers are included. Sometimes the concentration and/or combination of substances determines whether it is controlled or hazardous. See the ISEF rules for chemicals and devices for a complete description of these substances, activities, and devices.

  • Additional information needed on these forms:
    • Form 1 - Check appropriate boxes on part 6.
    • Form 1A - Check appropriate boxes on part 5.
    • Research Plan - Add information described in the research plan instructions (bottom part 4). Be sure to include risk assessment.
  • Additional Forms that may be needed:
    • Form 1C - If work was done in a regulated research institution.
    • Form 2 - Required BEFORE experimentation if your project involves DEA-controlled substances. If the Qualified Scientist cannot directly supervise the student, a designated supervisor is required and must fill out the bottom right hand box on this form.
    • Form 3 - Required BEFORE experimentation for all projects in this category.

Most Common Errors

  • Boxes are not checked properly or forms are incomplete.
  • Research Plan does not include details for proper storage and disposal of chemical substances.
  • Risk is not assessed thoroughly; see page 19 of the complete ISEF Rules, or the ISEF Risk Assessment Guide.

Return to Top of Page