Ethics Statement

The rules and regulations used in the BIOTech Futures Challenge been adapted from rules of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and students competing at Society for Science and the Public affiliated science fairs.

The purpose of these rules is to:

  • protect the rights and welfare of the student researcher
  • protect the rights and welfare of the human participant
  • ensure use of safe laboratory practices
  • protect the environment
  • determine eligibility for BIOTech Futures Challenge 2020

All student participants, as well as adults who have a role in their projects, are expected to maintain the highest ethical standards.

Integrity

Honesty, objectivity, and avoidance of conflicts of interest are expected during every phase of the project. The project should reflect independent research done by the student(s) and represent work conducted during the challenge period only.

Respect for Confidentiality and Intellectual Property

Confidential communications, as well as patents, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property must be honoured. Unpublished data, methods, or results may not be used without permission, and credit must be given for all contributions to the research.

Stewardship of the Environment

It is the responsibility of the student and the adults involved to protect the environment from harm. Introduction or disposal of native, genetically altered, and/or invasive species, (e.g. insects ,plants, invertebrates, vertebrates), pathogens, toxic chemicals or foreign substances into the environment is prohibited. 

Acknowledgment of Risks

All projects involving risks should be managed by recognizing the hazards, assessing the risks, minimizing the risks, and preparing for emergencies.

Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents (PHBAs)

It is the responsibility of the student and adults involved in the project to conduct and document a risk assessment, and to safely handle and dispose of organisms and materials.

Eligibility Criteria

All student participants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the challenge:

  • Students must be in Years 9–12 or equivalent
  • Each student is only allowed to enter one project. The project may not include research performed before the challenge announcement date. 
  • A research project may be a part of a larger study performed by professional scientists, but the project presented by the student must be only their own portion of the complete study.

Students entering the Challenge in teams should also observe the following criteria:

  • Teams must have no more than five members
  • Team membership cannot be changed during the Challenge unless there are extenuating circumstances. Changes in membership must be approved by the project review committee before they can take effect. If students wish to convert a team project to an individual project or vice versa, they must address the rationale for the change and include a clear delineation between research preceding the change and that which will follow. 
  • Each team is encouraged to appoint a team leader to coordinate the work and act as spokesperson. However, each member of the team should be able to serve as spokesperson, be fully involved with the project, and be familiar with all aspects of the project. The final work should reflect the coordinated efforts of all team members and will be evaluated using the same judging criteria as individual projects.

Roles & Responsibilities

Student(s)

The student(s) is responsible for all aspects of the research project, including:

  • Enlisting the aid of any required supervisory adults (Adult supervisor or mentors), completing the registration process.
  • Following the Biotech Futures Challenge Rules & Guidelines and completing all appropriate processes and documentation.
  • Completing the project (which may include, but is not limited to) experimentation, data collection, engineering, data analysis, and any other process or procedures related to the project.
  • To avoid conflict of interest, no Adult Supervisor, parent or other relative of the student(s) or the mentor may serve as a project committee member.


The Adult Supervisor

An Adult Supervisor may be a teacher or a parent. Their responsibilities include:

  • Having familiarity with the regulations around procedures and materials that apply to the student project, particularly when involving potentially hazardous biological agents or hazardous chemicals, devices, or activities.
  • Maintaining close contact with the student for the duration of the project.
  • Observing communications between students and their mentors.


Mentor

The Mentor is responsible for:

  • Reviewing the rules relevant to the project and approving the student’s research plan and prototype or experimentation if applicable.
  • Providing appropriate time to guide their teams and help them in the formation and development of their idea (maximum ten hours per team).
  • Providing relevant open access literature to help students research their topic. If a particular pay-wall protected paper is necessary to the project, then the mentors should provide an executive summary on the key points of that paper.
  • Reviewing their team’s aim, hypothesis, literature review and methods before approving any experiments to be done by the team (not all teams will need to conduct experiments).
  • Providing insights into their own areas of research aside from serving as a source of scientific and engineering knowledge to help provide students with a better understanding as to what tertiary pursuit of STEM can entail and lead to.
  • Responding to students’ call within a maximum ten hours per team limit. All calls should be in the presence of an adult supervisor. All communication should be solely through email using their official, registered email address, online conference calls (zoom/skype) or over the phone.

Communication

Participants are allowed a maximum of 10 hours of contact with their mentors during the Challenge.

Communication between students and their mentors should primarily be through email. Students and mentors must use their school/institutional email address for all communications during the challenge, and all email communications between students and mentors should include the nominated adult supervisor as a recipient.

In the event that students and mentors wish to converse with one another, they may do so through online video conferencing software (Skype, Zoom, etc.). These calls should be initiated by the mentors and must take place in the presence of the nominated adult supervisor. 

For any enquiries regarding communication, please contact Praveen.Krishna@unimelb.edu.au or Meg.Belmonte@unimelb.edu.au