NOSB Research Project Judging Criteria


The team is expected to collaborate and prepare a document of no more than 20 pages related to the research topic. The document must be emailed to Phyllis Shoemaker by the deadline set each year or be subject to a late penalty.

Incorporation of research/completeness

  1. How thorough is the review of informational sources, be they interviews, print media, or electronic media? The content must reflect a deep and thorough research effort. The resources-cited section must be comprehensive.
  2. Does the document incorporate the various disciplines of ocean sciences in the discussion of the issues? What roles do the various fields of oceanography, biology and fisheries play in finding answers to the central questions?
  3. What other sciences are involved?

Writing style

  1. Is the document well organized? Is the beginning and end well defined? Is there good use of transitions?
  2. Are the ideas and content presented clearly? Are the central ideas and purposes clear?
  3. Are details given to enhance the central ideas? Are they presented in a captivating way?
  4. Are the paragraphs well developed? Does the writing style flow smoothly?
  5. Are figures and tables used effectively? Some difficult ideas can be best expressed in a graph.
  6. Is information collated in tables and figures? Are these referred to in the text? Are the graphs and tables clearly labeled?
  7. Are the writing conventions met? Is the grammar usage correct? Is the punctuation and spelling correct? How is the sentence structure?
  8. Is the reference section complete and properly formatted?

Issue comprehension

  1. Does the document address the socioeconomic issues of the question?
  2. What roles do various ocean-related industries, community development, native cultures, and management agencies play in the issues? Are other aspects discussed?
  3. Are there unique insights in the presentation of the information? Is it obvious that a lot of thought and creative effort has gone into the synthesis of the material obtained?


  1. Do the findings lead to the conclusions in a logical manner?
  2. Is strong evidence given to support the conclusions?
  3. Does the strength, direction and focus of the recommendations come from the information presented in the document?
  4. Are the main issues addressed by the recommendations?

Oral Presentation

The team is expected to give an oral presentation of no more than 20 minutes about their project at the regional competition. Team members will balance the speaking duties.


  1. Is accurate knowledge of the topics demonstrated in the presentation?
  2. Are the main issues of the project thoroughly covered?
  3. Are multiple disciplines of ocean sciences and socioeconomic issues considered?
  4. Was research time well spent and the results integrated into the talk?
  5. Are the sources completely and correctly cited?
  6. Are the main issues organized in a coherent manner? Are they the same main issues covered in the document?


  1. Do speakers use a clear, strong voice?
  2. Has good eye contact been maintained by all speakers?
  3. Do speakers gesture naturally, showing confidence?
  4. Are speakers dressed appropriately?
  5. Have the speakers used correct pronunciation?


  1. Is the material arranged and presented logically, and do the main points follow a coherent pattern?
  2. Is there a definite beginning which leads to main issues or points and a succinct ending?
  3. Is there a smooth transition between topics and speakers?

Visual Aids

  1. Do the visuals easily hold the audience's attention?
  2. Are the visuals “audience friendly”? Are they easy to see and big enough to read? Are they easy to interpret?
  3. Are figures correctly captioned and the X and Y axes labeled? Are tables correctly captioned?
  4. Are the visuals well-integrated into the presentation? Does the speaker address audience attention to the visual and actually use it? [Hint: A good rule of thumb is to allow 1 minute per visual during the presentation.]

Balance of speaking duties

  1. Are the speaking duties shared by all team members?
  2. Is the talk given in four or five equally important parts?

Fielding questions from the judges and the audience after the formal presentation

[This will last no more than 10 minutes.]

  1. Are all team members able to show some knowledge in the areas related to their chosen topic?
  2. Do students appear eager to answer questions?
  3. Are questions answered correctly?


Each team has 20 minutes to state their case or tell their story. If a team can adequately present the project in less time, there is no penalty. A time penalty is only assessed if a team is unable to present all their information within the allotted 20 minutes. For the first minute beyond the presentation time limit a team will be penalized 3 points, and then 1 point for each additional minute. Time penalties will be assessed by the timekeeping judge.