LISEF Additional Requirements

In the interest of safety, fairness and ethics, a Regional Affiliated Fair can be more restrictive than the ISEF Rules and Guidelines.

Please see additional rules below, now organized by topic; new or updated items are contained within the appropriate topic:


  • If at any time, LISEF, Inc. becomes aware of an egregious ethics violation on either the part of the student(s) or adult sponsor, the project will fail to qualify and, additionally, LISEF may impose a penalty, which may include, but is not limited to a school wide penalty.
  • The liaison must canvas their students to determine if a team project is a split-school project and contact the other school to determine which school is including that project in their school’s commitment.  Both schools must submit a commitment agreement which must be emailed by October 11, 2019. Each school is responsible for payment for their student(s) that are a part of a split-school team project.
  • Each school is required to have a district employee as a chaperone on premises for their students AT ALL TIMES during the LISEF competition and awards ceremony, and complete all duties assigned. If chaperone coverage for students from a particular school is not provided at all times throughout the event, a letter will be sent to the school’s designated chaperone and a copy will be sent to that person’s immediate supervisor.
  • All individuals/team members must present at LISEF Round 1 (and Round 2 if applicable), unless extenuating circumstances are approved by the board prior to the fair, to be eligible for awards. Other competitions and/or school/sporting events, etc. are not extenuating circumstances. The LISEF Board does not consider any circumstance where a CHOICE is involved as an extenuating circumstance.
  • All participants must dress and behave with a reasonable level of decorum. LISEF, Inc. reserves the right to immediately fail to qualify a project where the participant(s) are a distraction to others and to remove them from the competition floor for the remaining time of the competition.
    • No food from delivery outside venues can be brought into the Crest Hollow CC without prior permission of the LISEF President.
  • All photography/videography on behalf of LISEF will be done by the LISEF official photographer, identified by a badge.  No liaison, adult sponsor, or student is to take photos or videos of students that are not from their participating school.
  • A competing individual or team member not present during the awards ceremony, without prior clearance from the LISEF President, forfeits their opportunity for an award including the trip to ISEF. Note, that if one member of a team is absent without permission from the awards ceremony, the entire team becomes ineligible for ISEF as the ISEF Guidelines do not permit any change to the team membership after once competing.


  • A 5 point deduction will be made from each judge’s raw score at Round 1 for the lack of a complete Abstract in the Online Registration database by January 29, 2020 (see ISEF Guidelines 2020, p. 29: an abstract must include the purpose of the experiment, procedure, data, and conclusions and represent only the work of the student(s)).
  • NEW: A 5 point deduction will be made from each judge’s raw score at Round 2 where a comprehensive Abstract (see Complete ISEF Rules & Guidelines 2020, Page 29) is not included in the PDF Upload due by January 29, 2019.


    • Submit one document, the Research Plan/Post Summary, as described below:
  • Research Plan written prior to experimentation (future tense)
      • Addendum (present/past tense):
        • If no changes are made from the original research plan, simply state that no changes were made at the end of the research plan.
        • If changes (additions or deletions) are made during the research, add these changes in the addendum, recognizing that some changes may require returning to the IRB or SRC for appropriate reviews and approvals.
        • Please start the Addendum on a separate page.
    • NEW: A 5 point deduction will be made from each judge’s raw score at Round 2 where a comprehensive appropriate Research Plan (see Complete ISEF Rules & Guidelines 2020, Page 32) is not included in the PDF Upload due by January 29, 2019.
  • Recommendations:                                                                              
    • Students should use headings and bullets throughout their research plan.
    • The subject-specific guidelines (items 1-4 on the ISEF Research Plan/Post Summary Instructions) should be embedded within the Procedures section (item C) of the Research Plan.
    • Note: These housekeeping recommendations make it easier for the reviewer to review your paperwork.


  • A 5 point penalty will be subtracted from each judge’s raw score at Round 2 for the lack of submission or an incomplete submission of a research paper in the single PDF upload as described below, or as in a primary research publication in a format consistent with your discipline:



  • Introduction section
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results (any representation of data, findings or mathematical proofs)
  • Discussion and conclusions
  • References
  • A title page stating the Title of the project, the student’s name(s) and school name(s)
  • Pages have to be numbered


  • NEW: A 5 point penalty will be subtracted from each judge’s raw score at Round 2 for the lack of submission or an incomplete submission of the project display board in the single PDF upload as described below.


  • Clarification: A project in which the student(s) learned techniques and equipment in one year, and did experimentation in the second year is considered a continuation.
  • If AT ANY TIME, LISEF, Inc. becomes aware of a change of membership of a project presented at a prior competition than its membership registered for the LISEF competition, LISEF will impose a 50% penalty of the initial allocation for the following school year for each school involved in the infraction. In addition, the student(s) involved will fail to qualify, and in the event that the LISEF competition has already taken place, then that project and student(s) will be stripped of all recognition and awards. Additionally, the Principal and Superintendent of the school(s) involved will be sent a letter informing them that their initial allocation of LISEF registrations is being reduced by 50% the following year because of an ethics violation.
  • Team membership cannot be changed during a given research year unless there are extenuating circumstances; the LISEF Regional SRC must approve of any change in team membership during the 12-months after the stated start date for the project. This ruling supersedes the ISEF Rules and Guidelines. Keep in mind that once a project has competed in any science fair at any level, no changes are allowed even in extenuating circumstances.


  • All projects using BSL-2 classified biological agents in a high school lab must submit a copy of their high school’s BSL-2 certification from a government agency. The website below will describe in detail the levels of biological containment.


  • The LISEF SRC serves as an approval committee for vertebrate projects performed in a school, home or field.  All approvals for these types of studies must be approved prior to experimentation by the LISEF SRC.


  • All published instruments that are not in the public domain must be administered, scored and interpreted by a Qualified Scientist as required by the instrument publisher. Any and all use and distribution of the test must be in accordance with the publisher’s requirements, including procurement of legal copies of the instrument.  All approvals to use the publisher’s instrument must be attached to the Research Plan at the time of IRB review. Please note, because a published instrument is readily available on the internet does not mean that it is legitimately in the public domain. If an instrument being used is one legitimately in the public domain, provide proof to that effect. If the student(s) states that they have modified a published instrument, the student(s) must provide a copy of the original instrument or a link to it.
  • Human Participants Form 4 additional requirement: An additional signature from the local IRB chair is required which indicates the review and approval of ALL stimuli/material (visual, auditory, written, mechanical, etc.) to which human participants will be exposed. A statement similar to our sample below should be printed on the school letterhead and submitted, along with all such stimuli described above, to the local IRB; this said document should be signed and dated by the local IRB Chair.
    • Our IRB has seen/heard and reviewed the stimuli/material (visual, auditory, written, mechanical, etc.) to which human participants will be exposed for this project and which are listed below:(list all stimuli/material)
  • Surveys to collect data for LISEF participation may not be distributed to students enrolled in a K-12 class (public or private school) where they receive any kind of evaluation OR where attendance is taken. This rule is designed to maximize the voluntary assent of the participants. It will apply to ALL projects that require voluntary assent of human subjects.
  • The ‘Scripts’ that are used to present a survey to potential subjects during recruiting and/or to describe informed consent must be included in the research plan under the appropriate headings.
  • Any measures administered to Human Participants, including those used in pilots, that may cause physical or psychological harm must go through the IRB approval process; submit a Form 4 for the Pilot Study.
  • The survey/questionnaire must be attached to the Informed Consent if Parental/Guardian permission is required by your IRB.  In this instance, the CONSENT FORM must include the following statement followed by their signature and date:
    • YES NO (circle one) I have received a copy of any survey or questionnaire to be used in the research.  (If the Human Informed Consent Form from the ISEF Guidelines is used, add the above statement to the back and include an * on the front that directs parents to the reverse side.)


    • The LISEF Regional SRC must give approval of any individual, not at an RRI, as the qualified scientist prior to the start of experimentation, if one is required (usually Human Participants, non-human Vertebrates, and PHBAs.) In a closed session at each monthly meeting our board of trustees will determine approval status of any open Qualified Scientist applications.
    • ISEF Guidelines 2020:  A Qualified Scientist should have earned a doctoral/professional degree in a scientific discipline that relates to the student’s area of research.   Alternatively, the SRC may consider an individual with extensive experience and expertise in the student’s area of research as a Qualified Scientist.
    • Having a Bachelors or a Masters degree in a scientific discipline is not sufficient to act as a Qualified Scientist without additional experience in a professional lab. Several years as a research teacher does not constitute extensive experience in the student’s area of research. The alternative that the ISEF guidelines mention, extensive experience and expertise, generally applies to fields where a professional degree does not exist. Each project is different and the Qualified Scientist should have significant knowledge in the student’s area of research.
  • See Qualified Scientist qualifications and responsibilities in the ISEF Guidelines 2020, page 5.


  • NEW: There is a 5 point penalty on each of the judges Round 2 raw score for lack of a proper abstract, research plan, research paper and presentation board in the PDF Upload (as per above Additional LISEF rules).  The total penalty will not exceed 5 points on each of the judges Round 2 raw score for any combination of missing items.
  • A single PDF file, no larger than 20MB,  must be uploaded to the project registration page, by 8:00 p.m. on January 29, 2020.  
  • NEW: If Consent forms are required, they must be submitted in a separate PDF upload, no larger than 20MB,  on the project registration page. The deadline for this submission is 8:00 P.M. on January 29, 2020.  
  • If the liaison elects to upload a project’s PDF upload, any errors made in doing so will be treated as a student error.
  • Please see page 18 for further details on required elements for the PDF upload.
  • Do not submit MSDS forms as part of the single PDF upload, due January 29, 2020.
  • Both the PDF Upload and consent form upload size cannot be larger than 20MB each.  Be sure to check your file size before the deadline!


  • A school is responsible for payment of the LISEF registration fee for any student from their high school who is a participant in a project entered through another school. If the student becomes an ISEF finalist, the school is required to send a district employee chaperone to ISEF as indicated in your signed commitment agreement.
  • A school is required to send a district employee chaperone to ISEF should one of your students become a finalist (LISEF recommends that the chaperone be a person with STEM or research teacher experience); this chaperone must travel with the LISEF Group and attend all ISEF and LISEF sponsored events unless the LISEF Board has granted an exemption prior to the Finalists’ meeting on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 (in the event an exemption is granted, the district employee chaperone must travel with their student(s)).  Finalists and chaperones are required to attend the mandatory meetings.
  • Any project board being sent to ISEF by LISEF must fit in a box of size 53x7x30 inches; if you have a larger board, you are responsible for shipping and will receive a $30 stipend from LISEF.


Any exceptions to any one of the above LISEF rules can only be granted by the LISEF SRC and Board of Trustees.  Please submit your request with a rationale to the LISEF SRC Committee ( prior to proceeding with the study.  If a waiver is granted, submit documentation with your paperwork.