Standard for Judging

The Standard: Judging is conducted in a fair and ethical manner.  Conflicts of interest are addressed and the process of judging and final decision making is as transparent as possible while maintaining the integrity of the process.  Effective policies and procedures are in place and understood and adhered to by all involved.  All of those involved in judging and in making winner selections do so with the best interest of the student participants.  The decisions of judges are final.

Indicators for all science fairs:

5.1     The science fair will establish written policies that address minimum judge qualifications for each level of judging as well as recruitment and selection of judges per judging tier.  Such policies should address how conflicts, perceived conflicts or potential conflicts of interest will be addressed and avoided.  Science fairs should use experience and expertise to govern the selection of judges, but should also consider terms of service or rotations to support new leadership and thinking.

5.2    The science fair will establish an acceptable minimum number of judges per project to reach conclusions.  A science fair should have a minimum of two judges reviewing any project per round of judging; more, if possible.

5.3    All judges will be required to attest to a statement of ethics before serving that addresses minimally 1) serving in the best interest of fair and just competition, 2) acknowledging any conflict of interest, 3) refraining from any harassment of another individual, and 4) the requirement to decline any payment or other considerations of value.

5.4    The role of the science fair governance and fair director in judging decisions should be transparent and should not undermine the decision-making of the collective body of judges.  This is particularly important if such leadership has a real or perceived conflict of interest via an association with student participants or a competing school.

5.5    The science fair will have a written judging policy that is understood and agreed upon by participants and all stakeholders.  This policy will reflect the judge selection criteria and judging process and will affirm that judging decisions are final.  It is suggested that parents and students understand and sign such a statement.

5.6    The science fair will have a written grievance policy and process to address concerns raised. This process should be operational throughout the science fair process and should make judgments or address concerns of conflict as quickly and efficiently as possible, ideally before the judging process is complete.

Special Indicators

State Fairs

  • Each region should furnish a certain number of qualified judges from their region to the state to ensure fairness.
  • The state fair should have a policy that is public regarding the naming of ISEF finalists and how those who have already been named ISEF finalists are considered in judging.

Other Standards


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Governance & Leadership

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Programs and Services

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