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Researching and writing the extended essay

The research process

When researching the extended essay, students should do the following:


The structure of the extended essay

Required elements of the final work to be submitted: (see more detail in Formal presentation of the extended essay section) **Please note that the order these are presented here is not the order the order in which they should be written.

Students should use the chosen system of academic referencing as soon as they start writing. (APA) 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. Most modern words processors are helpful with this.

Some students draft the introduction first. If students do that, they must be prepared to revise it once that essay is complete.

The main task is writing the body of the essay, which should be presented in the form of a reasoned argument. The form of this varies with the subject of the essay but, as the argument develops, it should be clear to the reader what relevant evidence has been discovered, where/how it has been discovered and how it supports the argument. In most subjects, sub-headings within the main body of the essay will help the reader to understand the argument (and will also help the student to keep on track).

Once main body of the essay is complete, it is possible to finalize the introduction (which tells the reader what to expect) and the conclusion (which says what has been achieved, including notes of any limitation and any questions that have not been resolved).

***Any information that is important to the argument should not be included in appendices or footnotes/endnotes. The examiner is not bound to read notes or appendices, so an essay that is not complete in itself will lose marks.

The remaining stages in writing the essay take time but are not difficult.

The abstract is normally written last.


International Baccalaureate Organization. (2007). Researching and writing the extended essay. In IBO Extended essay guide, First examinations 2009,  (pp. 13-14). New York: International Baccalaureate