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About Your Project

First, determine if your research project meets the eligibility guidelines. Then register for the Competition. You'll need to submit a Research Report, Abstract and References as well as a few additional required materials.

Project Eligibility

Before you begin, you must determine that your project is eligible for the Competition.

  • Each student can submit only one Research Project, which will include all of the materials set forth in these Competition Guidelines (collectively, the “Research Report”, “report” or “project”), either as an individual competitor or as a member of a team.
  • You may submit a Research Report that has been or will be submitted to other science competitions.
  • You may submit a Research Report that has been or will be published, as long as you retain the rights and cite the publication in the submitted Research Report.
  • Projects with Human Subjects and Other Vertebrates are allowed; however students must follow the guidelines noted in Section III.C.
  • If you were a Semi-Finalist, Regional Finalist or National Finalist in a previous Siemens Competition and intend to submit a previously submitted project, you must be able to clearly demonstrate scientific advancement, or submit a new Research Project. You must also disclose that you have submitted previously during the registration process.
  • If you were NOT selected as a Semi-Finalist, Regional Finalist or National Finalist in a previous Siemens Competition then you may resubmit your Research Project with no changes or a new Research Project.
  • Competition entrants who have parents, guardians, or Competition Mentors employed by, or otherwise affiliated with, the Siemens Foundation’s university partners (Carnegie Mellon University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; The University of Texas at Austin; California Institute of Technology; University of Notre Dame; and The George Washington University) may enter the Competition but may not be permitted to compete at the partner university where the parent, guardian, or mentor is employed or otherwise affiliated. Entrant must disclose this information during the registration process. Furthermore, if lab or research work for the project was performed at any of these six universities, students may enter the Competition but may not be able to compete at that university site. Entrants are also required to disclose this information during the registration process.
  • Children of employees of Discovery Communications are not eligible to enter the Competition.
  • Projects that violate any laws, school or Competition regulations or that may potentially place any student, judge, or observer in danger are not eligible.
  • Projects that fail to follow any of the guidelines set forth are not eligible to enter the Competition and will be disqualified.

Project Topics

Research Reports may be submitted on projects in the fields of mathematics, engineering, biological and physical sciences. They may also involve combinations of disciplines such as:

  • Astrophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioengineering
  • Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Botany
  • Cell/Cancer Biology
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Earth and Atmospheric Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Science and Engineering
  • Genetics
  • Geology
  • Immunology/Virology
  • Materials Science/Nanoscience
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Nutritional Science
  • Physics
  • Toxicology

Social and behavioral science research projects are NOT eligible. Social science is considered to be the study of society or social behavior. Behavioral science is considered any project that involves the study of the actions and reactions of humans and animals through observation and experimental methods.

Human and Animal Protection Policy

The Siemens Competition recognizes that laboratory research using animals and/or human subjects has led to important discoveries. Because this is a high school competition, however, the program has set guidelines as to what is and is not allowable for purposes of entering this Competition. Therefore, students must understand and follow the guidelines below, and mentors must clearly document the use of human subjects and other vertebrates to be eligible for the Competition.

For the purpose of the Siemens Competition, live vertebrates include humans, mammalian embryo or fetus, bird eggs within three days (72 hours) of hatching, and all other vertebrates at hatching or birth. Zebrafish are considered vertebrates upon hatching. (Source: NIH Animal Program Director Guidelines for Zebra fish Larvae Incubators.) If any of these types of vertebrates are used in the student’s work, including obtaining tissue or cells from vertebrates even if the rest of the vertebrate was used for a different purpose, BOTH the student and mentor must fill out the following forms:

Section V of the Mentor Form, Human and Animal Protection Policy Certification, must be completed by the advisor, mentor, or supervising scientist. In addition, the student must complete the Human and Animal Protection Policy Questions.

Projects that involve in any way, including testing and questioning, the use of live human subjects or other live vertebrates or the fluids, cells, tissues, or organs from vertebrates are accepted only under the following conditions:

  • The Research Project is conducted in a registered institution or laboratory in the United States where human or animal experimentation is authorized. The mentor is required to provide the following information as part of the Mentor Form:
    • Name of the research institution.
    • Title of the study.
    • In the case of human subjects, Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval number and approval date. A high school IRB is not permitted. If an exemption was granted, this must be documented with the date of the exception. Copies of IRB approval or granting of exemption must be included with the submission.
    • In the case of other vertebrate animals, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval number and approval date. Copies of IACUC approval must be included with the submission.
  • The vertebrate animals CANNOT be euthanized for the sole purpose of the student's research project. Fluids, cells, tissues, and organs may be used only if the animals were euthanized for another purpose. This must be clearly documented by both the student and the mentor. If the statements by the student and mentor are not consistent with each other, and thus, it is not clear whether these guidelines have been followed, then the project will be disqualified.
  • Projects using commercially purchased human or animal cell lines ONLY do not require IACUC or IRB approval. However, the student must still complete the Human and Animal Protection Policy Questions and clearly state the cell line name. The student should include the ATCC catalogue number for the established cell lines, or if a catalogue number is not available, the student should give the original reference for the establishment of the cell line.

Research projects conducted outside of the United States must follow the same guidelines listed above when using live human subjects or other live vertebrates or the fluids, cells, tissues, or organs from vertebrates in accordance with the following:

  • The research must be done in an institution that is affiliated with a U.S. registered institution or laboratory. The mentor must provide an IRB or IACUC approval number and copies of IACUC approval must be included with the application.
  • The country where the research is done must have, at a minimum, guidelines equivalent to the United States. The mentor must provide evidence of this. In place of an IRB or IACUC approval number, the mentor must provide a copy of the official certification used in that country and specifically for that research project. If the country or affiliate institution has a federal-wide assurance number, please provide. The documentation must be in English.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a fundamental value of the Siemens Competition and scientific research. We expect the Research Report, presentation slides, digital poster and any other materials submitted to the Competition to be your own work. If you are using text or images from someone else, you are expected to ensure that all facts, techniques, images, and information (including the Internet) are properly cited. It is not sufficient to simply modify the words of an original source. If you have used the essential idea, you must properly cite the source. All direct citations with no modification to the wording should be in quotations. Improper use of citations may result in disqualification.

In addition, all of the materials submitted to the Siemens Competition, including without limitation the findings, results, conclusions, discoveries, research, data, software, code and all other matters related to the materials, must satisfy the principles of academic and scientific honesty and integrity and cannot be designed, engineered, altered or modified in any way to fraudulently or illegitimately produce (whether intentionally or unintentionally) a dishonest result.

Documentation may be requested at any time (including after the Competition, after winners have been selected, and after awards have been provided) including, but not limited to computer source code, software, lab journals, cited references, and/or underlying mathematical formulas, to support the research submission and any unsubstantiated claims.

As part of the judging process, the Competition uses specific procedures to detect plagiarized or dishonest materials. If a Research Report or other materials are found to have improper citations, if citations are omitted, intentionally or unintentionally, or if the materials fail to satisfy in any way the principles of academic and scientific honesty and integrity, Discovery Education and the Siemens Foundation, at their sole discretion, will disqualify you from the Competition and notify your high school about the disqualification. Grounds for disqualification may include, but are not limited to plagiarism, claims of novelty and/or substantial significance that cannot be supported, and improper use of vertebrates (if applicable). Disqualification may occur at any time, including after the end of the Competition, after winners are selected, and after scholarship awards have been provided.

The integrity of the research project is the responsibility of the author (student) and violations of academic integrity will result in disqualification. Each applicant must indicate that they have read and understand the Academic Integrity Statement upon registration and submission.

Citing Your Sources

Any piece of information that is not your own original text or is not common knowledge must be properly cited and quoted within the Research Report. This includes facts, techniques and information from other sources (e.g., print, web-based, oral). It is not sufficient to simply modify the words of an original source. All images, figures, histograms, diagrams, graphs and data, must be cited. If you used the essential idea (whether a primary or secondary source), you must properly cite the source. You must also cite and quote any text from other published papers where you are an author. If you plan to use an electronic source, you may use hyper-links. If that hyper-linked source requires a login, subscription, or any information that may not be available to Siemens Competition judges, you must provide the cited information as text within your resources. Improper use of citations may result in disqualification. NOTE: It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all hyper-links are working before submitting the Research Report.

  • What is the difference between a primary and secondary source? A primary source comes directly from the researcher. Examples are research articles in journals, patents, or reports. A secondary source comes from information that was originally collected elsewhere by someone other than the researcher. Examples are review articles and books. Both types of sources must be cited.
  • What if I want to cite an article/publication that I’ve written or contributed to? For the purpose of this Competition, if you are citing a previously self-authored article/publication, please refer to the author as “Competition Entrant”.
  • What if I want to cite an article/publication that my mentor wrote or contributed to? For the purpose of this Competition, please refer to the author as “Mentor.” If your mentor co-authored an article/publication, it is fine to list the other contributors’ names in the citation, as long as you have no personal affiliation with them.
  • How do I cite a graph, figure, or illustration that I created? For the purpose of this Competition, please cite the author as “Competition Entrant.”
  • Am I required to cite a photograph or graph that was created by someone else in the lab where I am doing research? Yes. This is not your own original work and must be properly cited. Examples include images and other graphical materials that have previously appeared in publications or other documents, whether or not they come from the same lab. This requirement also applies even if you were an author of these earlier materials. Failure to properly cite one's own previous work is regarded as self-plagiarism. Remember: when citing a lab you worked in, remember not to mention the name of your lab in your citation. Instead, refer to the lab simply as “research facility” or “institution.”
  • What is a peer-reviewed source? Professional journal articles are almost always reviewed by ‘peers’ or experts to help ensure that the material submitted is legitimate and original. Whether the information comes from a peer-reviewed source or not, it must be cited if you take information from the source.
  • How do I cite my source code? You need to place the code in a repository, for example GitHub, and link to your GitHub account in your references (please also list the log-on information). Keep in mind any sites you post to must be anonymous. There is usually a name associated with the account, so you would need to name the account “Competition Entrant” to avoid being disqualified for personally identifiable information.

Sharing Your Results

Research Reports and findings are the property of the students. You agree to permit the Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education to utilize and share the reports, including any parts and any other documents or corroborating materials (in any form or medium) submitted to supplement the original report, with third parties as it deems appropriate in their respective sole discretion.

Students selected as Regional or National Finalists grant the Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education nonexclusive, non-royalty bearing worldwide rights to showcase the project design, results, and findings, as well as the student(s) themselves who worked on the project.

By participating in the Competition, competition entrants agree to have their photos taken and used publicly and to have their names and images used publicly with respect to the Competition.

Tertiary content


2017 Siemens Competition registration is now closed.

Academic Integrity

Competitors must demonstrate academic integrity. Read our policy about plagiarism and other violations.

Video Highlights

Siemens shieldView the 2016 Siemens Competition National Winners at the national competition in Washington, D.C. Click to view the list of winners. View National Finalist "Road to Regionals"