FAQs

  1. What is the difference between the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Scientific Review Committee (SRC)?
  2. If I am working with hazardous materials, animals or human subjects, how do I get IRB or SRC approval?
  3. What role does the NYCSEF SRC have in approving my project? Don’t I already have approval by my IRB or SRC?
  4. I am confused about the role of the adult sponsor, sponsoring teacher, qualified scientist, and designated supervisor. How many sponsors do I need?
  5. If I compete in NYCSEF and win an award, can I enter the competition again next year?
  6. Do I have to submit a complete research plan with my application by the application deadline?
  7. I’ m having trouble with online application. What do I do?

For questions about IRB, the American Association for Public Opinion Research has a webpage with  IRB FAQs for Survey Researchers.  Please note that some rules on this site are different from NYCSEF.  Check the NYCSEF rules and guidelines for official requirements.

For more information about the Online Application, refer to the Online Application FAQs or contact NYCSEF staff at NYCSEF@cuny.edu.


What is the difference between the IRB and the SRC?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Scientific Review Committee (SRC) review your research proposal to determine if your protocol adheres to all the ethical rules and guidelines for student research. The general rule of thumb for NYCSEF is that the IRB reviews projects involving human subjects and the SRC reviews projects involving hazardous biological materials or chemicals, or vertebrate animals.


If I am working with hazardous materials, animals or human subjects, how do I get IRB or SRC approval?

If you are conducting your research at a Registered Research Institution (i.e. hospital, research lab, university, etc.) and your project involves hazardous biological agents, vertebrate animals, or human subjects, you will be required to have your protocol reviewed by the institution’s IRB or SRC before experimentation. Your mentor will be able to provide you with the proper procedures to obtain approval.

If you are conducting research at your high school and your research involves human subjects, your protocol must be approved by an IRB before experimentation (see page 7 of the NYCSEF RULES and GUIDELINES for detailed information about the IRB and pages 8-10 for information about human subjects). If your school does not have an IRB, your sponsoring teacher will need to establish one. Consult page 7 of the NYCSEF RULES and GUIDELINES for instructions on how to establish an IRB at your school or contact NYCSEF for further assistance.

If you are conducting research at your high school and your project involves working with hazardous biological agents or vertebrate animals, you must receive approval from an SRC before you begin experimentation (see page 7 of the NYCSEF RULES & GUIDELINES for detailed information about the SRC, pages 11-13 for information about vertebrate animals, and pages 14-17 for information about hazardous biological agents).  If your school does not have a SRC, your sponsoring teacher will need to establish one. Consult page 7 of the NYCSEF RULES and GUIDELINES for instructions on how to establish an IRB at your school or contact NYCSEF for further assistance.

Consult pages 17-20 of the NYCSEF RULES and GUIDELINES if you are using hazardous chemicals, activities or devices in your project. You do not need SRC approval prior to experimentation, but you must conduct a risk assessment of your protocol with your mentor or other qualified adult before experimentation and document the risk using the Risk Assessment Form (3)


What role does the NYCSEF SRC have in approving my project? Don’t I already have approval by my IRB or SRC?

Approval by your local IRB or SRC only gives permission for you to conduct the experiments as described in your protocol. Local IRBs or SRCs are responsible for reviewing your protocol for compliance with experimental safety and ethical procedures and supervision.

The NYCSEF SRC reviews all applications submitted for competition to ensure that projects comply with current NYCSEF ethical and experimental rules and guidelines as outlined in both the NYCSEF and ISEF Rules and Guidelines. All projects, regardless of using hazardous materials, animals, or human subjects, must be approved by the NYCSEF SRC in order to qualify for competition. The NYCSEF SRC does retain the right to override approval given by a local IRB or SRC if the project is deemed in violation of the NYCSEF or ISEF Rules and Guidelines. In such cases, qualification is determined on a case by case basis.


I am confused about the role of the adult sponsor, sponsoring teacher, qualified scientist, and designated supervisor. How many sponsors do I need?

It is possible that one adult can serve in all of these roles (depending on the qualifications of the adult). The sponsoring reserach teacher is the only adult who must be a teacher from your high school. All others are adults associated at various levels of your project. Just be sure that none of these adults review your project suring SRC or IRB review as this would be a conflict of interest. The specific roles of each of these adults are described on page 6 and 7 of the NYCSEF RULES and GUIDELINES.


If I compete in NYCSEF and win an award, can I enter the competition again next year?

Yes, students can enter NYCSEF as many times as they would like, regardless of having won a previous award. Your research may build on past data and results; however, your current entry must represent research conducted within a maximum of 12 months prior to the competition. Only projects using research that was previously entered and presented in past NYCSEF competitions are referred to as Continuation/Research Progression Projects (see page 2 of the NYCSEF RULES and GUIDELINES) and require the Continuation/Research Progression Form (7) of the NYCSEF application.


Do I have to submit a complete project summary/research plan with my application by the application deadline?

Yes, you need to write a detailed project summary/research plan to submit with your application before the application deadline. The project summary/research plan must include the questions, problems and/or hypotheses being addressed in your project, a detailed description of the methods and materials being used in your project, including methods of data analysis, and a bibliography of at least five major references.

Upcoming Deadlines

  1. 17Dec2014 NYCSEF Application Deadline
  2. 01Mar2015 NYCSEF Preliminary Round @ The City College of New York
  3. 24Mar2015  NYCSEF Finals Round @ The American Museum of Natural History
  4. 27Mar2015 NYCSEF Awards Ceremony @ The Kaye Playhouse Theatre-Hunter College
  5. 10May2015 International Science & Engineering Fair Week in Pittsburgh,PA

Get the complete schedule

News + Notes

Welcome back Team NYC 2014! Congratulations on all your accomplishments.  Visit the Students or Teachers sections for more information.

City University of New York (CUNY) website