The IBDP Extended Essay is a great opportunity to undertake an independent research project on a topic of particular interest.
Choose a subject
What subject do I enjoy the most? What subject do I hope to study at college/university?
Choose a topic area
Is it focused? Can I narrow it down further?
Formulate a research question
It is important to spend time on this as the research question will determine what the essay will be like. A good title should enable you to think critically, investigate and analyse, not simply describe. Begin by discussing ideas with your supervisor. Remember that a good research question will direct you towards the sources you need. There is a huge amount of information out there so you need to have an idea of what you are looking for before you start. Look at past Extended Essay examples in the Library and the Assessment Criteria for ideas.
You are required to consult a range of sources, both print and online. If you cannot find sources to support your intended research question you may have to re-think your topic. Visit the QML catalogue and catalogues of other Libraries to identify and locate what you need and visit Web Resources to help find online resources. Brainstorm keywords and topics to help your search.
Remember that note-taking is an active task, not a passive copying exercise. It is a dialogue in which you are allowed to agree or disagree with the author, compare different findings and formulate your own argument based on the evidence of your research. Use whatever method works best for you: mindmaps, colour code handwritten/online notes, post-it notes in books, ect. It is vital to keep track of all the sources you use. Keep a research diary, a Word document, annotate your notes with page numbers, or if you prefer you can use software such as Zotero. You will need to know where you got information from for your references so keep track from the very beginning.
Work back from the deadline and identify specific times to do each step. When will I collect sources from the Library? When am I going to do internet research? When will I collect fieldwork data? You have other commitments to consider so you must plan your time. Don’t leave it until the last minute!
Before you start writing your essay make sure you have read the Assessment Criteria. This tells you what you need to include in the essay. Visit the library and look at past EEs to see how past pupils have structured and presented their essay. Give one complete draft to your supervisor and then revise your essay on feedback.
Hand in your completed essay. Be prepared for an interview with your supervisor where you will discuss your essay.
During the EE process you will have to complete three reflections. These reflections will be assessed under Criterion E: Engagement. Therefore, keep an ‘EE Diary’ of how you feel you are getting on at the beginning, during and at the end.