Common Reasons Projects Fail to Qualify

The list below includes some of the reasons students failed to qualify in 2023. After applications are submitted each year, a team of PhD scientists reviews each entry and performs an extensive rules check. When an Regeneron STS entry "fails to qualify," the student is not eligible for awards. To ensure that research submitted to the 2024 competition meets eligibility requirements, review the Regeneron STS Rules and Entry Instructions. Entrants should also explore Task 3 of the application, and can email any questions to

You can view this list as a PDF here.

Human Research

  • Student fails to obtain IRB approval before testing an invention, software or product, or conducting a survey on humans other than themself.
  • Human data was not properly deidentified before being shared with student.
  • Student fails to upload a blank copy of survey used on human participants (if survey used in project).
  • Student fails to upload a blank copy of informed consent document used on human participants, or does not share evidence of collecting informed consent (if informed consent required by IRB).
  • Student fails to upload IRB documentation or proof of publication from mentor's originating study.
  • IRB is improperly constituted (school IRBs are ok, but teachers who oversee a project must not be part of the school IRB as this is a conflict of interest).
  • Parent was a member of the IRB.
  • IRB paperwork not signed or checkboxes of IRB decision not checked.
  • Dates on paperwork do not align with dates of student data collection.
  • IRB from inappropriate institution (should have oversight over research subjects).

Non-Human Vertebrate Animal Research

  • The source of vertebrate animal/human cell lines or tissues are not properly documented.
  • Vertebrate animal/human established cell lines or tissue cultures were obtained from a commercial source and neither student nor project recommender provided a catalog number; or if obtained from a non-commercial source there is no documentation from supplier.
  • Vertebrate animal sacrificed solely for student study.
  • Student study involved pain or stress to vertebrate animals.
  • Vertebrate animal's habitat and/or food was altered without IACUC approvals (in order for a study to be considered observational, no factors can be altered in animal's habitat).
  • Student fails to upload IACUC documentation or proof of publication from mentor's originating study.
  • Student performs vertebrate animal research in a home environment.
  • Student designed a tissue study requiring euthanasia of the animal (primary purpose).
  • IACUC paperwork not signed.
  • Dates on paperwork do not align with dates of student data collection.


  • Student performs PHBA research in a home setting after June 2020.
  • Student cultures microorganisms in a home environment.


  • Student's research report fails plagiarism screening.
  • Student fails to disclose personal relationships in the mentorship of their project, or other conflict of interest. 
  • Mentor or student do not disclose prior relationship with parent/guardian of entrant.
  • Student is not in their final year of high school.
  • Student submits high school team project as individual work.
  • Student does not meet residence or citizenship eligibility requirements.