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Research ethics – why do we need it?

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with right and wrong and the development of guidelines that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Scientists who carry out research projects involving humans or animals spend a lot of time thinking not only about the scientific content of their work, but also about the potential impact of their work on the organisms that they study: the health, privacy, and dignity of the subjects participating in their studies. Science fair projects are a great way to learn about many important concepts in experiment design that relate to project ethics.


Ethics requirements at GVRSF

Youth Science Canada (YSC) has developed ethics policies that apply to science fair projects completed by all elementary and high school students in Canada. You must follow these guidelines in order to qualify for participation in the GVRSF.

Complete guidelines regarding the use of humans and animals in student research projects can be found on the YSC website: To help you determine whether these guidelines apply to your project and what forms you need to fill out, please ensure you review our ethics flow chart before starting your project:

2016 GVRSF Ethics Flow Chart

If you have any questions about whether your project design is acceptable for participation in the GVRSF, please download this form and email it to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Please use the following quiz in order to determine exactly how to get an ethics approval for your project:

Click here for ethics quiz! 


Teachers (and interested students) may download the 2016 ethics powerpoint information here.


Our goal is to ensure that projects meet the YSC ethics guidelines and hence remain eligible for entry into both the GVRSF and the Canada-Wide Science Fair. We encourage students and teachers to become familiar with these guidelines - not only to avoid disqualification and disappointment, but also to understand the basic principles of research ethics.



The flow chart link above can direct you to forms that should be completed before or during their projects, including the Research Plan for Projects Involving Animals (for projects involving vertebrate animals and cephalopods), examples of Letter of Information and Consent Forms (for all projects involving humans), and the Research Plan for Significant Risk Projects (for all projects with human subjects that involve significant risk).


 Projects by more than two students

Please also note that projects involving work completed by more than two students are ineligible for entry into the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair, regardless of the quality of the work. It is therefore a mistake to allow three or more students to start working on a project.



If you have questions, require an ethics committee review of a Research Plan, or require an ethics committee signature on Form 4.1A or 4.1B, please contact our GVRSF ethics committee ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). We are happy to provide advice at any time during a project’s development and hope we can work with you to ensure that our fair is adherent to Youth Science Canada’s ethics policies. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or for further information.


 Other resources

Interested learning more about research ethics? The National Institutes of Health in the USA has a short booklet that introduces the main ideas:

The BC Alumni Mentorship Program can help you with the design of your project if you need help with ethics guidelines. Here is a short powerpoint introduction to research ethics from an AMP workshop.

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Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Chairwoman - Organizing Committee 
Ms. Jessica Zhang

Mailing Address
Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair
c/o HR MacMillan Space Centre
1100 Chestnut Street
Vancouver, BC
V6J 3J9

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