The Extended Essay Research Process

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The Extended Essay Research Process

  1. 1. The Extended Essay Research Process UWCSEA
  2. 2. Choose the subject Your subject needs to be an approved Diploma Programme subject for the extended essay. You need to do an essay in a subject you study  For more specific information about each subject, you can read the assessment criteria and the relevant subject guidance. These are available from your subject teachers.
  3. 3. Choose the topic This will generally be from part of the curriculum that you have covered or will cover in class soon. Ideally it is something that you find interesting and would be inspired to write 4000 words about. Remember your Extended Essay could form part of your university application, so you could pick an area which you might study in the future.
  4. 4. Develop a research question This is where you narrow your topic into a specific research question or hypothesis to test. Using open questions, instead of closed questions is recommended. Avoid research questions that would lead to a descriptive essay. Using phrases such as “To what extent..” encourage essays with a greater analytical and evaluative nature. Your supervisor will help you to refine the scope of your research question.
  5. 5. Plan the investigation and writing process This is where you narrow your topic into a specific research question or hypothesis to test. Using open questions, instead of closed questions is recommended. Avoid research questions that would lead to a descriptive essay. Using phrases such as “To what extent..” will give your topic a greater analytical and evaluative focus. Your supervisor will help you to refine the scope of your research question.
  6. 6. Identify how you willcollect information Every extended essay requires in-depth and original research. Some essays will require primary research, where you gather data through experiments, interviews, focus groups or surveys. Every essay will require some secondary research. This is information or data written or gathered by others that helps answer your question. You will need go beyond using just the internet, and visit libraries and access databases of journals written by experts.
  7. 7. Set personal deadlines You need to carefully plan your timeline to meet the schools deadlines. You cannot miss any of the school’s requirements. See the Extended Essay guide for the precise dates. Use a tool such as iCal or iProcrastinate to plan the steps ahead of each deadlines. Also manage other pieces of school work such as internal assessments and anticipate busy times. Plan when each of your meetings with the supervisor will be, and also schedules times when you can collect information or conduct experiments.
  8. 8. Plan a structure Outline the headings for your Extended Essay. Your supervisor may provide you with a rough template of headings, but also look at the past Extended Essays available in the Library for ideas on structure. Each subject will have a distinctive structure. Develop your main headings early, perhaps in a Google Doc and share this with your supervisor. They will be able to provide guidance and one of your meetings.
  9. 9. Undertake some preparatory reading If you discover that it will not be possible to obtain the evidence needed in the time available, the research question should be changed. Remember in some subjects you will need to conduct experiments, and or collect secondary research. Reading and searching should be done sooner rather than later: students should not lose time waiting and hoping that something will turn up. Be prepared to go back and change your research topic, if you don’t find the necessary information.
  10. 10. Carry out the investigation The material gathered should be assembled in a logical order, linked to the structure of the essay. Only then will you know whether you have enough evidence for each stage of the argument so that they can proceed to the next. Students should be prepared for things to go wrong. Sometimes they may discover something later in the investigation that undermines what they thought had been established earlier on. If that happens, the investigation plan needs to be revised.
  11. 11. Submission and feedback Towards the end of the process you will submit a draft of your extended essay. This will be a nearly completed piece of work. This is your chance to get feedback on the written piece of work, the structure, analysis and the referencing. You also have three meetings throughout the process where your supervisor will ask questions and help with any issues. After you have submitted the final essay your supervisor will likely conduct a viva voice, which is an interview about your essay. This will help them judge your final piece of work and check its authenticity.

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