Research Plan/Project Summary

Research Plan/Project Summary (or Addendum)

For a .pdf version of all checklists and forms required for your project, see your science teacher.  The following information is an online summary of all requirements and contains all the information as the .pdf forms and should help you get started.  Printed checklists and forms from your science teacher will be required.

Research Plan/Project Summary (or Addendum)

Name(s): Project Title: School: Date:

A.  Rationale

B.  Research Question(s)

C.  Hypothesis(es) or Engineering Goal(s)

D.  Procedures

E.  Risk & Safety

F.  Data Analysis

G.  Bibliography

Science Fair Research Plan/Project Summary Checklist

Students:  Please complete the top portion of this checklist and staple it to the front of your Research Plan/Project Summary.  Your plan will be distributed to a teacher sponsor for review.  Your sponsor will review your project mainly for age appropriateness, feasibility, and safety.  If you need any assistance during your project, speak with your sponsor for guidance.

1.    Name(s):    2.    Date:   3.    Current grade level:   4.    Current science teacher:  5.    In which category would you place your project?

Research Projects

___ Biology (animals, biochemistry, cellular/molecular biology, microbiology, medicine/health, plants) ___ Behavioral science ___ Chemistry ___ Physics & Astronomy ___ Earth & Environmental Science ___ Math & Computer Science ___ Energy & Transportation

Engineering Projects ___ Electrical Engineering ___ Mechanical Engineering ___ Materials Engineering ___ Biomedical Engineering

6.    Does your research involve any of the following?  Check all that apply. Visit the ISEF website for more information.

___ Human participants  ___ Vertebrate animals ___ Potentially hazardous biological agents (microorganisms, recombinant DNA, animal/human tissues) ___ Hazardous chemicals, devices and activities (e.g. controlled chemicals/drugs, firearms, explosives, radiation, use of fire, etc.)

Sponsors:  As you review the Research Plan/Project Summary, please provide students feedback directly on the plan.  After reviewing the plan, please complete the appropriate checklist below.  If the project meets all requirements, please circle “Approved” at the bottom and initial next to it so students know they can begin their work.

Sponsor Name (printed)_________________________________

Room Number_______

Research Projects

Yes  No    Project is age appropriate for high school students     Yes  No    Project meets ISEF & Langley guidelines     Yes  No    Project has a practical application     Yes  No    Title is appropriate and clearly identifies the IV and DV     Yes  No    Hypothesis is testable     Yes  No    Procedure is appropriate for the hypothesis being tested     Yes  No    Procedure is clear and detailed enough to be replicated     Yes  No    Procedure allows student to collect quantitative data     Yes  No    Methods of data analysis are appropriate and clear     Yes  No    Student has identified potential safety issues and taken necessary precautions  

Engineering Projects

Yes  No    Project is age appropriate for high school students Yes  No    Project meets ISEF & Langley guidelines  Yes  No    Project has a clear goal and practical application Yes  No    Title is appropriate  Yes  No    Engineering design is appropriate to address the engineering goal Yes  No    Engineering design is clear and detailed enough to be replicated Yes  No    Engineering design allows student to collect quantitative data Yes  No    Methods of data analysis are appropriate and clear Yes  No    Student has identified potential safety issues and taken necessary precautions

Approved (sponsor initials_______)

Not Approved (please revise)

ISEF Forms Checklist

Note: Obtain a printed copy of this form (pdf) and checklist from your science teacher.

Student Name(s): _________________________

Period: _________________________________

Science Teacher(s): _______________________

Sponsor: ________________________________

Submit a copy of this checklist with your forms after completing your part.  Do not staple forms together.

Please use the checklist below to ensure you are completing the ISEF forms accurately.  All students must complete Form 1, 1A, Research Plan/Project Summary (with addendum, as needed) and Form 1B.  Other forms may be necessary depending on your project.  Please speak with your sponsor to determine if you need additional forms.  You may also want to use the Rules Wizard to determine which forms you will need.  We strongly encourage you to review the Overview of Forms & Dates before completing your forms.  Make sure you use the same title consistently on each form.    

Pay close attention to the dates!!  Most forms must be signed and/or dated before you start your project to indicate that your parents and sponsor have approved the project. Only Forms 1C, 5B, 7 and the abstract are completed after your project is complete.  In general, the forms should be dated in the following order (earliest to latest):  Research Plan, 1B, 1, 1A, Research Plan Addendum (if needed).  Please use the MM/DD/YY format for your dates.  

Grading (Form 1, 1A, Research Plan, 1B)
0-4 Errors 16 points
5-9 Errors 8 points
10+ errors or missing 0 points

FORM 1 Student   Teacher ____   ____ Typed Name(s) and Title ____   ____ Appropriate boxes checked in #1-6 (typed) ____   ____ Sponsor Information Complete (typed or black ink) ____   ____ Signed in black ink ____   ____ Dated earlier than start date on Form 1A

FORM 1A Student    Teacher ____   ____ Typed #1 - #8 ____   ____ Start Date is later than Sponsor Signature Date on Form 1 and Student/Parent date on Form 1B

Research Plan/Project Summary and Addendum

Student    Teacher ____   ____ Graded copies of approved Research Plan (without revisions) is submitted  ____   ____ Ungraded copy of approved Research Plan (with revisions) is submitted ____   ____ Research Plan Checklist with sponsor’s final approval is submitted with Research Plan ____   ____ Ungraded copy of the final Addendum is submitted (only if changes to original plan were made)  ____   ____ Name(s), project title, school and date typed at the top of every page of Research Plan & Addendum ____   ____ Page numbers typed at the bottom of every page of Research Plan & Addendum ____   ____ Research Plan is dated earlier than start date on Form 1A; Addendum is date after the end date on Form 1A

FORM 1B Student    Teacher ____   ____ Printed Student Name and Parent Name (typed or in black ink) ____   ____ Student and Parent Signature in black ink ____   ____ Dated earlier than start date on Form 1A ____   ____ SRC signatures, as needed (special projects only)

OTHER FORMS:  Follow the directions provided by your sponsor and the Rules Wizard.

Data Representation, Analysis and Conclusion Guidelines

(Remember never to use personal pronouns in your writing!)

After you have completed your experimentation and collected the data, you must present and analyze your data.  This is a crucial step in your project because it will help you draw valid conclusions that can be supported by the data you collected.  Consider the guidelines below as you begin to analyze your data.  Your data (tables/graphs), results and conclusions will all be included on your poster board.


  • Use appropriate tables, graphs and figures to illustrate your data.  Consider these questions:
    • Should you show all of the raw data, raw data with averages, or just averages?
    • Should you use a bar graph, line graph, scatter plot with a line/curve of best fit, etc.?
    • Are separate graphs required for different sets of data?  Can you create a clear graph with multiple lines/curves/bars to make comparisons easier? 
    • Can you include the results of statistical analysis (mean, standard deviation, error bars, etc.)?
  • Be sure to label all columns and rows in tables (with appropriate units of measurement), as well as axes on graphs.  Include titles for all tables, graphs and figures.  


  • In this section you will summarize the data you collected, and describe any statistical methods you used to analyze the data.  You can also draw attention to any outliers in the data, or highlight specific points that are important for your reader to see.  However, in this section you will only present the facts.  You will not discuss why you see trends or outliers, or if the data supported/refuted your hypothesis.  That discussion will be part of your Conclusion.  
  • Consider these points as you are trying to analyze your data.
    • Look for patterns or trends from your raw data/graphs, rather than individual data points.  
    • Identify outliers that may not fit general trends you see.
    • Highlight any points that you think are important for your reader to see.
    • Discuss any statistical methods you used (e.g. standard deviation, error bars, t-test, etc.).


  • Discuss your results and use the data you collected to support your arguments:
    • Did your experimental/engineering designs give you the expected results?  Why or why not?   
    • Explain any patterns/ trends you observed.   Provide explanations for any outliers or unexpected outcomes.   
    • Did you collect enough data?  Do you need to conduct more experimentation?  
    • Were there flaws in your experimental/engineering design or data collection/analysis methods?  Were there other non-human errors that affected your results?  If possible, how could you reduce or eliminate these flaws or errors?
  • Did any new questions arise from the data that you could investigate further?
  • Think of practical applications of your project.  How could your experimental/engineering design and/or the data obtained from it be used in the real world?