International Rules: Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs 2020–2021, societyforscience.org/ISEF2021 Page 33
Research Plan/Project Summary Instructions
A complete Research Plan/Project Summary is required for ALL projects and
must accompany Student Checklist (1A).
• All projects must have a Research Plan/Project Summary
a. Written prior to experimentation following the instructions below to detail the rationale, research question(s), methodology, and
risk assessment of the proposed research.
b. If changes are made during the research, such changes can be added to the original research plan as an addendum, recognizing
that some changes may require returning to the IRB or SRC for appropriate review and approvals. If no additional approvals are
required, this addendum serves as a project summary to explain research that was conducted.
c. If no changes are made from the original research plan, no project summary is required.
• Some studies, such as an engineering design or mathematics projects, will be less detailed in the initial project plan and will change
through the course of research. If such changes occur, a project summary that explains what was done is required and can be
appended to the original research plan.
• The Research Plan/Project Summary should include the following:
a. RATIONALE: Include a brief synopsis of the background that supports your research problem and explain why this research is
important and if applicable, explain any societal impact of your research.
b. RESEARCH QUESTION(S), HYPOTHESIS(ES), ENGINEERING GOAL(S), EXPECTED OUTCOMES: How is this based on the
rationale described above?
c. Describe the following in detail:
• Procedures: Detail all procedures and experimental design including methods for data collection, and when applicable, the source
of data used. Describe only your project. Do not include work done by mentor or others.
• Risk and Safety: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions needed.
• Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results.
d. BIBLIOGRAPHY: List major references (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan
to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference.
Items 14 below are subject-speciic guidelines for additional items to be included in your research plan/project summary as
1. Human participants research:
a. Participants: Describe age range, gender, racial/ethnic composition of participants. Identify vulnerable populations (minors,
pregnant women, prisoners, mentally disabled or economically disadvantaged).
b. Recruitment: Where will you ind your participants? How will they be invited to participate?
c. Methods: What will participants be asked to do? Will you use any surveys, questionnaires or tests? If yes and not your own, how
did you obtain? Did it require permissions? If so, explain. What is the frequency and length of time involved for each subject?
d. Risk Assessment: What are the risks or potential discomforts (physical, psychological, time involved, social, legal, etc.) to
participants? How will you minimize risks? List any beneits to society or participants.
e. Protection of Privacy: Will identiiable information (e.g., names, telephone numbers, birth dates, email addresses) be collected?
Will data be conidential/anonymous? If anonymous, describe how the data will be collected. If not anonymous, what procedures
are in place for safeguarding conidentiality? Where will data be stored? Who will have access to the data? What will you do with
the data after the study?
f. Informed Consent Process: Describe how you will inform participants about the purpose of the study, what they will be asked to
do, that their participation is voluntary and they have the right to stop at any time.
2. Vertebrate animal research:
a. Discuss potential ALTERNATIVES to vertebrate animal use and present justiication for use of vertebrates.
b. Explain potential impact or contribution of this research.
c. Detail all procedures to be used, including methods used to minimize potential discomfort, distress, pain and injury to the
animals and detailed chemical concentrations and drug dosages.
d. Detail animal numbers, species, strain, sex, age, source, etc., include justiication of the numbers planned.
e. Describe housing and oversight of daily care.
f. Discuss disposition of the animals at the end of the study.
• Potentially hazardous biological agents research:
a. Give source of the organism and describe BSL assessment process and BSL determination.
b. Detail safety precautions and discuss methods of disposal.
4. Hazardous chemicals, activities & devices:
• Describe Risk Assessment process, supervision, safety precautions and methods of disposal.
• Material Safety Data Sheets are not necessary to submit with paperwork.