Projects submitted to the fair are reviewed based on their research plan after they are finalized. Projects that have an incorrect or insufficiently detailed research may be disqualified. Disqualification typically occurs because projects involve restricted experiments or ones that do not provide sufficient safety or privacy protections. Projects that are disqualified after they have been finalized will not be able to participate in the fair.
Precertification allows projects to be approved BEFORE the project experimentation is started. It requires a detailed research plan that must be followed during experimentation. The project is still reviewed after it has been finalized to make sure the research plan has not been significantly altered.
Unlike disqualification that is final, precertification can be a back and forth process. Precertification can be started once an online application has been started including a detailed research plan. The fair's safety review committee (SRC) reviews the research plan and either approves it or rejects it. Approved projects can be started while a rejected one may submit a new research plan. The SRC will provide recommendations for changes that are needed or indicate whether a project is illegal based on ISEF rules. For example, active acid rain studies are not allowed.
Rejected projects can be resubmitted for precertification any number of times as long as changes are made to the research plan.
How to Precertify a Project
First create an online application. Fill in all Project Info and Student Info fields and provide a detailed research plan. Make sure you use the ISEF Rules Wizard to determine what ISEF forms are required for the project. Make sure the designated forms are filled in as much as possible. These should be uploaded for review as well. For example, a human subjects project requires ISEF Form 4.
Change the Precertify Project field in the Project Info/Precertificaton section to Ready for Review. This will let us know that the project needs to be reviewed.
You will be contacted after the research plan has been reviewed. You will be able to make recommended changes if the project is not approved assuming the project does not involve restricted projects. Often project changes are needed because a research plan is unclear or incomplete or there may be missing ISEF forms.