What is the significance of the extended essay?
Ultimately, the point of the EE is to prepare you in a very practical, hands-on way for research and academic writing at college or university. In addition, it is an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of special interest to them, which is also related to one of the student’s six DP subjects.
Through the research process for the extended essay, students develop skills in:
To sum, participation in this process develops the capacity to analyze, synthesize and evaluate knowledge. An extended essay can also be undertaken in world studies, where students carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, across two IB diploma disciplines. For more information, see pages 360-369 in the Extended Essay Guide.
To determine the EE subject and topic, educate yourself with the following materials:
After choosing the subject for your extended essay, the next step in the research process is to define what your research is going to focus on - the topic.
At this stage you need to explore:
Your research topic:
Tips to choose a research topic:
Details tips on how to choose a Research Topic
[Developing a Topic video by Oregon School Library Information System]
[“Writing a Research Paper.” World News Digest. Infobase Learning, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. ]
The research question (RQ) derives from the title and is expressed as a question that is intended to be answered through researching and writing the EE. It appears on the title page and could also be visible as a header throughout the essay. It should:
• be clear and focused
• provide a path through which you can undertake achievable research
• use keywords that connect with the topic, the title, and the DP subject or world studies area of study
• support the development of an argument
1. Cannot Google the answer!
2. It should be broad enough to explore (40 hours) and narrow enough to be manageable (4000 words)
3. It does not repeat what is already known
4. It adds value to the existing knowledge
5. It expands on existing knowledge or frames it in a new context
Sample Research Questions
|Example of unclear, unfocused and unarguable research questions||Example of clear, focused and narrow research questions|
|What is the history of Chinese theater?||How does the legacy of Mei Lan Fang contribute to modern Jingju?|
|What was the impact of Ho Chi Minh’s allegiance to Lenin?||To what extent was nationalism the guiding factor in Ho Chi Minh’s adoption of Leninism in 1920?|
|How important is chlorophyll to plant life?||What is the effect of different concentrations of kinetin on leaves aging and the biosynthesis of chlorophyll?|
|How has grooming products changed over the time?||How has the portrayal of men in male grooming products changed from the 1980s to date?|
Five steps to developing a research question
1. Choose a topic within a subject that is of interest
2. Carry out preliminary reading.
3. Consider the emerging questions
4. Evaluate the question
5. Consider research outcomes
Note: Sometimes students may need to revise their research question; therefore, a research question should always be considered provisional until they have enough research data to make a reasoned argument.
The following video and pictorial presentations may guide you on how to formulate a research question:
Lekanides, Kosta. Extended Essay Course Book: Oxford IB Diploma Programme. OUP, 2016.
Working on a specific area of research and engaging with different sources of information and data, you may expose to different and new perspectives on issues and topics. At this stage, you need to construct a resource Plan, identifying all the resources needed to complete the essay. You should also produce a schedule indicating when each resource will be used and note any assumptions and constraints made during the resource planning process. IB suggested that students should use both primary and secondary sources for their research. However, students should use secondary data as the basis of their EE, supported where appropriate by primary research. The sole use of secondary sources is permitted and will allow students access to all levels of the EE assessment criteria (IB EEG, p.146).
Primary vs Secondary Sources
Whether conducting research in the social sciences, humanities (especially history), arts, or natural sciences, the ability to distinguish between primary and secondary source material is essential.
|Primary Source||Secondary Source|
|Primary sources are materials that are direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or as close to the original source as possible.||Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. analyzes based on primary sources.|
*Please note that a book is simply a format. You can find primary and secondary sources published in book form
Note: Often secondary and primary sources are relative concepts. Typical secondary sources may be primary sources depending on the research topic.
How can I find and identify scholarly sources/resources?
Not very easy! but following some strategies/ methods, one can justify the scholarly resources. The following presentation may guide you on how to search and justify scholarly resources online!
Subscribed Databases at ICS, Zurich
Open Access Databases at ICS, Zurich
These are highly recommended Open Access databases. To search your desired resource click on the selected database and explore…
Students should use their chosen style of academic referencing as soon as they start writing. That way they are less likely to forget to include a citation. It is also easier than trying to add references at a later stage. Regardless of the reference style adopted by the student/school for a given subject, it is expected that the minimum information given includes (IB EEG, p.81):
• name of author
• date of publication
• title of source
• page numbers as applicable
• date of access (electronic sources)
Please, educate yourself with the IB Effective citing and referencing documents!
What to Cite and How to Cite
For the In-text citation and bibliography, follow the minimum requirements as summarized in this presentation.
It is important to adapt how you read to suit the material and your purpose for reading. Depending on what you are reading and why, you will find some of the following strategies useful. The following are the effective reading strategies adapted from Charles Darwin University:
Skimming ( click and scroll down)
If you are undertaking an Extended Essay on any subject you are required to complete some research. Research generally involves two different types: primary and secondary research. Once students have identified their topic and written their research question, they can decide how to research their answer. Consider your research goals, and whether they can be met by secondary research, or require primary research. The definition of “research” and terms such as “primary data” and “secondary data” varies from subject to subject. In some subjects, students must use both primary and secondary data. In others, students may, or even must, rely exclusively on secondary data.
Primary vs Secondary Research
|Primary Research||Secondary Research|
Primary research (field research) involves gathering new data that has not been collected before.
It is based on raw data.
Secondary research (desk research) involves gathering existing data that has already been produced.
It is based on analyzed and interpreted information.
Considering the complexity of research, all students must carry out secondary research in terms of a literature review for their topic (IB, EEG, p. 111). The purpose of secondary research is to:
Use of Scholarly resources
It is also important that you consult relevant and reliable scholarly and peer-reviewed sources in your research. You need to evaluate all the sources that you use for your secondary research. The authority and credibility evident in scholarly sources will improve the quality of your paper or research project. Moreover, the use of scholarly sources is an expected attribute of academic coursework.
How can I tell if a source is scholarly?
Not very easy but following some strategies/ methods such as ABCDE, CRAAP, CRAB methods, one can justify the scholarly resources. The following presentation may guide you on how to search and justify scholarly resources online!
Writing the extended essay
The structure of the essay is very important. It helps students to organize the argument, making the best use of the evidence collected. Six required elements of the extended essay:
Integrate others' ideas through Paraphrasing, Summarizing and Quieting
In academic writing, we have to incorporate other ideas and research findings to our research. Now the question is how do we do that? Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing are the three main ways of integrating others’ ideas in your academic work.
Writing Tips: Brought to you by...
English for Writing Research Papers@ Useful Phrases/Author voices
Purdue University-OWL@ Academic Writing
Cambridge Rindge & Latin School@ Writing an Introduction
Cambridge Rindge & Latin School@ Writing a Conclusion
Plagiarism Tutorials: Brought to you by...
Plagiarism Quizzes: Brought to you by...
You are highly encouraged to read the document "How to Write a Research Paper" at Research Guide. <https://icsz.libapps.com/libguides/admin_c.php?g=664309&p=4700645>
The length of the extended essay
The extended essay should be written in a clear, correct and formal academic style, appropriate to the subject from which the topic is drawn. Given that the extended essay is a formally written research paper, it should strive to maintain a professional, academic look.
To help achieve this, the following formatting is suggested:
• the use of 12-point, readable font
• double spacing
• page numbering
• no candidate or school name on the title page or page headers
• the essay should be a maximum of 4000 words (the examiner won’t read anything past this cut off point!)
• the file size must not be more than 10 MB.
Note that the RPPF is uploaded separately and is not part of the overall file size of the essay!
The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays. Examiners are instructed not to read or assess any material in excess of the word limit. Please refer to the following guidance on what content should be included in the word count (IB EEG, pp. 82-83):
|Included in the word count||Not included in the word count|
|The introduction||The contents page|
|The main body||Maps, charts, diagrams, annotated illustrations|
|Quotations||Equations, formulas and calculations|
|Footnotes and/or endnotes that are not references||Citations/references (whether parenthetical, numbered, footnotes or endnotes)|
|The bibliography, appendices, survey form|
|The Reflections on planning and progress form|
Exception: Students writing their extended essay in Japanese or Chinese should use the following conversions:
• Japanese: 1 word = approximately 2 Japanese characters (upper limit 8,000 characters)
• Chinese: 1 word = approximately 1.2 Chinese characters (upper limit 4,800 characters)
There are two types of assessment identified by the IB:
• Formative assessment informs both teaching and learning. It is concerned with providing accurate and helpful feedback to students and teachers on the kind of learning taking place and the nature of students’ strengths and weaknesses in order to help develop students’ understanding and capabilities. Formative assessment can also help to improve teaching quality, as it can provide information to monitor progress towards meeting the course aims and objectives.
• Summative assessment gives an overview of previous learning and is concerned with measuring student achievement.
Assessment of the extended essay is a combination of formative assessment (the Reflections on planning and progress form) and summative assessment (the extended essay itself). However, generic assessment criteria are used with subject-specific interpretations.
What are the criteria to assess the Extended Essay?
There are five (A-E) criterion to assess the EE and each criterion is organized at three levels of information. Firstly, the , which relates to the mark range available; secondly, , which relates to what is being assessed; and, thirdly, , which are the demonstration of the strands within a markband.
This criterion focuses on the topic, the research question and the methodology.
This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question.
This criterion assesses the extent to which critical-thinking skills have been used to analyse and evaluate the research undertaken.
This criterion assesses the extent to which the presentation follows the standard format expected for academic writing and the extent to which this aids effective communication.
This criterion assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process.
Overview of the Criteria
A. Focus and Method
|B: knowledge and understanding||C: critical thinking||D: presentation||E: engagement|
|Topic • Research question • Methodology||Context • Subject-specific terminology and concepts||Research • Analysis • Discussion and evaluation||Structure • Layout||Process • Research focus|
How is the Extended Essay assessed?
All extended essays are externally assessed by examiners appointed by the IB. They are marked on a scale from 0 to 34.
The score a student receives relates to a band. The bands are:
As the extended essay is an important component of the Diploma Programme, and a substantial piece of work, students need to ensure that they understand the expectations of the task and manage their time and workload effectively. The following suggestions are given as guidance to help with the process.
Students are strongly recommended to:
• develop a Researcher’s reflection space as a planning tool
• use the Researcher’s reflection space to prepare for reflection sessions
• share excerpts from the Researcher’s reflection space with the supervisor during the reflection sessions
• choose a subject, followed by a topic, and then think carefully about the research question for their essay
• plan how, when and where they will find material and sources for their essay before deciding on the final topic and research question
• plan a schedule for both the researching and writing of their extended essay, including extra time for delays and unforeseen problems
• record sources as their research progress using their Researcher’s reflection space rather than trying to reconstruct a list at the end
• make the most of their supervision and reflection sessions by arriving prepared to discuss their work
• have a clear structure for the essay before beginning to write
• check and proofread the final version of their extended essay
• make sure that the version they submit for assessment is the final version with all sources correctly and consistently referenced
• ensure that all requirements are met
Adapted from IB EE Guide, pp.48-49.
At ICS, Zurich students are required to:
You should think of your EE supervisor as a resource for general feedback, but do not rely on them to hold your hand through this process. You must take the initiative on all fronts, from choosing your subject to writing a plan and setting internal deadlines for yourself so that you can meet school deadlines! You will edit your EE on your own; do not expect your EE Supervisor to read, edit, or mark up your drafts in any way.
Think of it this way: The IB’s general EE guidelines require you to spend at least forty hours researching and writing your Extended Essay. In contrast, your EE Supervisor should spend no more than about 3-5 hours advising your work along the way.
That said, your supervisor can be a valuable support to you through this process - someone to bounce ideas off, clarify your understanding and support your time-management. Make them your first point of call if you have difficulties…don't suffer in silence, they are there to help!
The supervisor-student working relationship is probably the most important one in the Extended Essay process. The EE supervisor will advise students during the entire process such as confirm research questions, read final draft and give comments for revising it and submit a predicted grade to the IBO. Supervisors must ensure that they understand the important role they play in supporting students in this process.
Supervisors are required to:
Supervisors are strongly recommended to:
Adapted from IB Extended Essay Guide, pp.46-47.
The following FREE online courses may guide you throughout your extended essay (click on the course image):
1. Developing Your Research Project
What topics will this course cover?
Academic research: principles and definition
Drafting and developing research proposals
Gathering information from literature and from findings
Research methods: choosing an appropriate methodology
Academic reading and note taking
Referencing, plagiarism, and academic integrity
Academic writing: organising sources, structuring essays
Academic writing: summarising a research project into an abstract
Academic presentations: preparation and delivery
2. Information & Digital Literacy for University Success
What topics will this course cover?
3. Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review
What topics will this course cover?
Open Access Databases at ICS, Zurich
These are highly recommended Open Access databases. To search your desired resource click on the selected database and explore…[no password required]
Yes. If you do not complete the extended essay (or it does not meet minimum standards) you will be deemed ineligible to receive your IB Diploma.
No. However, it is strongly recommended that you select a topic from one of your Higher Level (HL) subjects. Other subject areas may be chosen; however, that will only be allowed if there is a qualified staff member to help so that you have every opportunity to do well in that area. If you are not currently enrolled in a course in the subject area from which you choose your EE topic, you must have a solid knowledge base in that subject area. In general, you are ‘wisest’ to choose a topic in an area that you are passionate about and currently studying at the HL.
Unlike most student/teacher relationships, for the Extended Essay, you are the one in the driver’s seat. Yes, there are deadlines and guidelines and you must meet them, but you choose your topic and you plan your research on your own and you write and edit the essay on your own. Your EE Supervisor is there as a resource if you need help, or if your essay is heading in the wrong direction or stalled. Think of your EE Supervisor as a backseat driver - you may hear “Watch out!” or “Go [write] faster!” but, ultimately, you are the one responsible for putting your foot on the pedal and making sure you are in good shape coming down the home stretch of the Extended Essay process.
Learning how to edit your own work is an invaluable skill, though it may be painful at first. Some tried-and-true tips for copy-editing as you go along:
Relax. Many students are overly worried about writing academic papers simply because they may not be able to visualize what exactly an academic paper will entail, and how it differs from the school papers they have been writing in one form or another since elementary school.
Here is the quick definition: an academic paper is a piece of formal writing (i.e., unlike a conversational tone such as what I am using now, you will most likely be using the third person voice, and should avoid colloquialisms and unfounded generalizations). At the heart of most academic papers is the thesis statement, which describes what you believe and what you are trying to prove, out of all the research and analysis you have done. All the other points in the paper will go towards supporting your thesis statement.
You will write the Extended Essay to emulate an academic journal article. Because these journal articles are published, there is often a very strict methodology for how you go about writing them. This is great for you because it means there are a lot of resources, both online and off, available to teach you about these methodologies! Good luck, and happy writing!
You will have the opportunity to explore an interesting self-selected topic in-depth. You will develop your research skills and, if applicable to your subject area, your investigative skills. As well, you will improve your presentation skills, as you will be required to use MLA/APA as a citation format and to prepare an annotated bibliography. These skills will be extremely useful in your post-secondary studies.
Yes! As noted above, if you do not submit an extended essay, or if your extended essay does not meet the minimum requirements, you will not receive your diploma. As well, your assessment on your extended essay and your ToK essay and project are combined into a point matrix. You may qualify for up to three additional points which are added to your total IB Diploma score.
Step -1: Read the key EE documents
Step -2: Record your thoughts@RRS
Step -3: Choose a subject & supervisor
Step -4: Confirm a research topic & title
Step -5: Formulate a research question
Step -6: Identify sources
Step -7: Plan a research outline
Step -8: Decide on reference style
Step -9: Commence research/reading
Step -10: Writing the essay
*Write 3 reflections according to the ICS timeline
Susan Trower of West Sound Academy, Washington, USA