I have a science fair project coming along, and I'd like to focus on a basic cipher (something simple, like a substitution cipher) and how I could make a similar system that would be about equally secure but would be faster to decode. Is there anywhere I could find information beforehand on deciphering speeds or would I have to try get my own results?
You’ll likely have to do your own analysis.
First of all, most of existing literature focuses either on asymptotic speed or specific implementations (such as in the case of hardware based encryption). Neither of which will be very useful to your pen-and-paper scenario.
Second of all, coming up with your own “similar system” implies it is a “new” system and no existing analysis would’ve been done on it.
I recommend that you create a set of “basic operations”, such as lookups in a table, arithmetic operations, copying intermediate result to another piece of paper, etc. This way you can estimate the number of operations the original decipher takes and compare it with that of your new algorithm.
(As this is for a science fair project, I'm leaving out any considerations for the actual security implications.)