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International Baccalaureate (IB)


IB students around the globe fear writing the Extended Essay, but it doesn't have to be a source of stress! In this article, I'll get you excited about writing your Extended Essay and provide you with the resources you need to get an A on it.

If you're reading this article, I'm going to assume you're an IB student getting ready to write your Extended Essay. If you're looking at this as a potential future IB student, I recommend reading our introductory IB articles first, including our guide to what the IB program is and our full coverage of the IB curriculum .

IB Extended Essay: Why Should You Trust My Advice?

I myself am a recipient of an IB Diploma, and I happened to receive an A on my IB Extended Essay. Don't believe me? The proof is in the IBO pudding:


If you're confused by what this report means, EE is short for Extended Essay , and English A1 is the subject that my Extended Essay topic coordinated with. In layman's terms, my IB Diploma was graded in May 2010, I wrote my Extended Essay in the English A1 category, and I received an A grade on it.

What Is the Extended Essay in the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Extended Essay, or EE , is a mini-thesis you write under the supervision of an IB advisor (an IB teacher at your school), which counts toward your IB Diploma (learn more about the major IB Diploma requirements in our guide) . I will explain exactly how the EE affects your Diploma later in this article.

For the Extended Essay, you will choose a research question as a topic, conduct the research independently, then write an essay on your findings . The essay itself is a long one—although there's a cap of 4,000 words, most successful essays get very close to this limit.

Keep in mind that the IB requires this essay to be a "formal piece of academic writing," meaning you'll have to do outside research and cite additional sources.

The IB Extended Essay must include the following:

  • A title page
  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Body of the essay
  • References and bibliography

Additionally, your research topic must fall into one of the six approved DP categories , or IB subject groups, which are as follows:

  • Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
  • Group 2: Language Acquisition
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies
  • Group 4: Sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The Arts

Once you figure out your category and have identified a potential research topic, it's time to pick your advisor, who is normally an IB teacher at your school (though you can also find one online ). This person will help direct your research, and they'll conduct the reflection sessions you'll have to do as part of your Extended Essay.

As of 2018, the IB requires a "reflection process" as part of your EE supervision process. To fulfill this requirement, you have to meet at least three times with your supervisor in what the IB calls "reflection sessions." These meetings are not only mandatory but are also part of the formal assessment of the EE and your research methods.

According to the IB, the purpose of these meetings is to "provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their engagement with the research process." Basically, these meetings give your supervisor the opportunity to offer feedback, push you to think differently, and encourage you to evaluate your research process.

The final reflection session is called the viva voce, and it's a short 10- to 15-minute interview between you and your advisor. This happens at the very end of the EE process, and it's designed to help your advisor write their report, which factors into your EE grade.

Here are the topics covered in your viva voce :

  • A check on plagiarism and malpractice
  • Your reflection on your project's successes and difficulties
  • Your reflection on what you've learned during the EE process

Your completed Extended Essay, along with your supervisor's report, will then be sent to the IB to be graded. We'll cover the assessment criteria in just a moment.


We'll help you learn how to have those "lightbulb" moments...even on test day!  

What Should You Write About in Your IB Extended Essay?

You can technically write about anything, so long as it falls within one of the approved categories listed above.

It's best to choose a topic that matches one of the IB courses , (such as Theatre, Film, Spanish, French, Math, Biology, etc.), which shouldn't be difficult because there are so many class subjects.

Here is a range of sample topics with the attached extended essay:

  • Biology: The Effect of Age and Gender on the Photoreceptor Cells in the Human Retina
  • Chemistry: How Does Reflux Time Affect the Yield and Purity of Ethyl Aminobenzoate (Benzocaine), and How Effective is Recrystallisation as a Purification Technique for This Compound?
  • English: An Exploration of Jane Austen's Use of the Outdoors in Emma
  • Geography: The Effect of Location on the Educational Attainment of Indigenous Secondary Students in Queensland, Australia
  • Math: Alhazen's Billiard Problem
  • Visual Arts: Can Luc Tuymans Be Classified as a Political Painter?

You can see from how varied the topics are that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to picking a topic . So how do you pick when the options are limitless?


How to Write a Stellar IB Extended Essay: 6 Essential Tips

Below are six key tips to keep in mind as you work on your Extended Essay for the IB DP. Follow these and you're sure to get an A!

#1: Write About Something You Enjoy

You can't expect to write a compelling essay if you're not a fan of the topic on which you're writing. For example, I just love British theatre and ended up writing my Extended Essay on a revolution in post-WWII British theatre. (Yes, I'm definitely a #TheatreNerd.)

I really encourage anyone who pursues an IB Diploma to take the Extended Essay seriously. I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition merit scholarship to USC's School of Dramatic Arts program. In my interview for the scholarship, I spoke passionately about my Extended Essay; thus, I genuinely think my Extended Essay helped me get my scholarship.

But how do you find a topic you're passionate about? Start by thinking about which classes you enjoy the most and why . Do you like math classes because you like to solve problems? Or do you enjoy English because you like to analyze literary texts?

Keep in mind that there's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing your Extended Essay topic. You're not more likely to get high marks because you're writing about science, just like you're not doomed to failure because you've chosen to tackle the social sciences. The quality of what you produce—not the field you choose to research within—will determine your grade.

Once you've figured out your category, you should brainstorm more specific topics by putting pen to paper . What was your favorite chapter you learned in that class? Was it astrophysics or mechanics? What did you like about that specific chapter? Is there something you want to learn more about? I recommend spending a few hours on this type of brainstorming.

One last note: if you're truly stumped on what to research, pick a topic that will help you in your future major or career . That way you can use your Extended Essay as a talking point in your college essays (and it will prepare you for your studies to come too!).

#2: Select a Topic That Is Neither Too Broad nor Too Narrow

There's a fine line between broad and narrow. You need to write about something specific, but not so specific that you can't write 4,000 words on it.

You can't write about WWII because that would be a book's worth of material. You also don't want to write about what type of soup prisoners of war received behind enemy lines, because you probably won’t be able to come up with 4,000 words of material about it. However, you could possibly write about how the conditions in German POW camps—and the rations provided—were directly affected by the Nazis' successes and failures on the front, including the use of captured factories and prison labor in Eastern Europe to increase production. WWII military history might be a little overdone, but you get my point.

If you're really stuck trying to pinpoint a not-too-broad-or-too-narrow topic, I suggest trying to brainstorm a topic that uses a comparison. Once you begin looking through the list of sample essays below, you'll notice that many use comparisons to formulate their main arguments.

I also used a comparison in my EE, contrasting Harold Pinter's Party Time with John Osborne's Look Back in Anger in order to show a transition in British theatre. Topics with comparisons of two to three plays, books, and so on tend to be the sweet spot. You can analyze each item and then compare them with one another after doing some in-depth analysis of each individually. The ways these items compare and contrast will end up forming the thesis of your essay!

When choosing a comparative topic, the key is that the comparison should be significant. I compared two plays to illustrate the transition in British theatre, but you could compare the ways different regional dialects affect people's job prospects or how different temperatures may or may not affect the mating patterns of lightning bugs. The point here is that comparisons not only help you limit your topic, but they also help you build your argument.

Comparisons are not the only way to get a grade-A EE, though. If after brainstorming, you pick a non-comparison-based topic and are still unsure whether your topic is too broad or narrow, spend about 30 minutes doing some basic research and see how much material is out there.

If there are more than 1,000 books, articles, or documentaries out there on that exact topic, it may be too broad. But if there are only two books that have any connection to your topic, it may be too narrow. If you're still unsure, ask your advisor—it's what they're there for! Speaking of advisors...


Don't get stuck with a narrow topic!

#3: Choose an Advisor Who Is Familiar With Your Topic

If you're not certain of who you would like to be your advisor, create a list of your top three choices. Next, write down the pros and cons of each possibility (I know this sounds tedious, but it really helps!).

For example, Mr. Green is my favorite teacher and we get along really well, but he teaches English. For my EE, I want to conduct an experiment that compares the efficiency of American electric cars with foreign electric cars.

I had Ms. White a year ago. She teaches physics and enjoyed having me in her class. Unlike Mr. Green, Ms. White could help me design my experiment.

Based on my topic and what I need from my advisor, Ms. White would be a better fit for me than would Mr. Green (even though I like him a lot).

The moral of my story is this: do not just ask your favorite teacher to be your advisor . They might be a hindrance to you if they teach another subject. For example, I would not recommend asking your biology teacher to guide you in writing an English literature-based EE.

There can, of course, be exceptions to this rule. If you have a teacher who's passionate and knowledgeable about your topic (as my English teacher was about my theatre topic), you could ask that instructor. Consider all your options before you do this. There was no theatre teacher at my high school, so I couldn't find a theatre-specific advisor, but I chose the next best thing.

Before you approach a teacher to serve as your advisor, check with your high school to see what requirements they have for this process. Some IB high schools require your IB Extended Essay advisor to sign an Agreement Form , for instance.

Make sure that you ask your IB coordinator whether there is any required paperwork to fill out. If your school needs a specific form signed, bring it with you when you ask your teacher to be your EE advisor.

#4: Pick an Advisor Who Will Push You to Be Your Best

Some teachers might just take on students because they have to and aren't very passionate about reading drafts, only giving you minimal feedback. Choose a teacher who will take the time to read several drafts of your essay and give you extensive notes. I would not have gotten my A without being pushed to make my Extended Essay draft better.

Ask a teacher that you have experience with through class or an extracurricular activity. Do not ask a teacher that you have absolutely no connection to. If a teacher already knows you, that means they already know your strengths and weaknesses, so they know what to look for, where you need to improve, and how to encourage your best work.

Also, don't forget that your supervisor's assessment is part of your overall EE score . If you're meeting with someone who pushes you to do better—and you actually take their advice—they'll have more impressive things to say about you than a supervisor who doesn't know you well and isn't heavily involved in your research process.

Be aware that the IB only allows advisors to make suggestions and give constructive criticism. Your teacher cannot actually help you write your EE. The IB recommends that the supervisor spends approximately two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.

#5: Make Sure Your Essay Has a Clear Structure and Flow

The IB likes structure. Your EE needs a clear introduction (which should be one to two double-spaced pages), research question/focus (i.e., what you're investigating), a body, and a conclusion (about one double-spaced page). An essay with unclear organization will be graded poorly.

The body of your EE should make up the bulk of the essay. It should be about eight to 18 pages long (again, depending on your topic). Your body can be split into multiple parts. For example, if you were doing a comparison, you might have one third of your body as Novel A Analysis, another third as Novel B Analysis, and the final third as your comparison of Novels A and B.

If you're conducting an experiment or analyzing data, such as in this EE , your EE body should have a clear structure that aligns with the scientific method ; you should state the research question, discuss your method, present the data, analyze the data, explain any uncertainties, and draw a conclusion and/or evaluate the success of the experiment.

#6: Start Writing Sooner Rather Than Later!

You will not be able to crank out a 4,000-word essay in just a week and get an A on it. You'll be reading many, many articles (and, depending on your topic, possibly books and plays as well!). As such, it's imperative that you start your research as soon as possible.

Each school has a slightly different deadline for the Extended Essay. Some schools want them as soon as November of your senior year; others will take them as late as February. Your school will tell you what your deadline is. If they haven't mentioned it by February of your junior year, ask your IB coordinator about it.

Some high schools will provide you with a timeline of when you need to come up with a topic, when you need to meet with your advisor, and when certain drafts are due. Not all schools do this. Ask your IB coordinator if you are unsure whether you are on a specific timeline.

Below is my recommended EE timeline. While it's earlier than most schools, it'll save you a ton of heartache (trust me, I remember how hard this process was!):

  • January/February of Junior Year: Come up with your final research topic (or at least your top three options).
  • February of Junior Year: Approach a teacher about being your EE advisor. If they decline, keep asking others until you find one. See my notes above on how to pick an EE advisor.
  • April/May of Junior Year: Submit an outline of your EE and a bibliography of potential research sources (I recommend at least seven to 10) to your EE advisor. Meet with your EE advisor to discuss your outline.
  • Summer Between Junior and Senior Year: Complete your first full draft over the summer between your junior and senior year. I know, I know—no one wants to work during the summer, but trust me—this will save you so much stress come fall when you are busy with college applications and other internal assessments for your IB classes. You will want to have this first full draft done because you will want to complete a couple of draft cycles as you likely won't be able to get everything you want to say into 4,000 articulate words on the first attempt. Try to get this first draft into the best possible shape so you don't have to work on too many revisions during the school year on top of your homework, college applications, and extracurriculars.
  • August/September of Senior Year: Turn in your first draft of your EE to your advisor and receive feedback. Work on incorporating their feedback into your essay. If they have a lot of suggestions for improvement, ask if they will read one more draft before the final draft.
  • September/October of Senior Year: Submit the second draft of your EE to your advisor (if necessary) and look at their feedback. Work on creating the best possible final draft.
  • November-February of Senior Year: Schedule your viva voce. Submit two copies of your final draft to your school to be sent off to the IB. You likely will not get your grade until after you graduate.

Remember that in the middle of these milestones, you'll need to schedule two other reflection sessions with your advisor . (Your teachers will actually take notes on these sessions on a form like this one , which then gets submitted to the IB.)

I recommend doing them when you get feedback on your drafts, but these meetings will ultimately be up to your supervisor. Just don't forget to do them!


The early bird DOES get the worm!

How Is the IB Extended Essay Graded?

Extended Essays are graded by examiners appointed by the IB on a scale of 0 to 34 . You'll be graded on five criteria, each with its own set of points. You can learn more about how EE scoring works by reading the IB guide to extended essays .

  • Criterion A: Focus and Method (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion C: Critical Thinking (12 points maximum)
  • Criterion D: Presentation (4 points maximum)
  • Criterion E: Engagement (6 points maximum)

How well you do on each of these criteria will determine the final letter grade you get for your EE. You must earn at least a D to be eligible to receive your IB Diploma.

Although each criterion has a point value, the IB explicitly states that graders are not converting point totals into grades; instead, they're using qualitative grade descriptors to determine the final grade of your Extended Essay . Grade descriptors are on pages 102-103 of this document .

Here's a rough estimate of how these different point values translate to letter grades based on previous scoring methods for the EE. This is just an estimate —you should read and understand the grade descriptors so you know exactly what the scorers are looking for.

Here is the breakdown of EE scores (from the May 2021 bulletin):

How Does the Extended Essay Grade Affect Your IB Diploma?

The Extended Essay grade is combined with your TOK (Theory of Knowledge) grade to determine how many points you get toward your IB Diploma.

To learn about Theory of Knowledge or how many points you need to receive an IB Diploma, read our complete guide to the IB program and our guide to the IB Diploma requirements .

This diagram shows how the two scores are combined to determine how many points you receive for your IB diploma (3 being the most, 0 being the least). In order to get your IB Diploma, you have to earn 24 points across both categories (the TOK and EE). The highest score anyone can earn is 45 points.


Let's say you get an A on your EE and a B on TOK. You will get 3 points toward your Diploma. As of 2014, a student who scores an E on either the extended essay or TOK essay will not be eligible to receive an IB Diploma .

Prior to the class of 2010, a Diploma candidate could receive a failing grade in either the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge and still be awarded a Diploma, but this is no longer true.

Figuring out how you're assessed can be a little tricky. Luckily, the IB breaks everything down here in this document . (The assessment information begins on page 219.)

40+ Sample Extended Essays for the IB Diploma Programme

In case you want a little more guidance on how to get an A on your EE, here are over 40 excellent (grade A) sample extended essays for your reading pleasure. Essays are grouped by IB subject.

  • Business Management 1
  • Chemistry 1
  • Chemistry 2
  • Chemistry 3
  • Chemistry 4
  • Chemistry 5
  • Chemistry 6
  • Chemistry 7
  • Computer Science 1
  • Economics 1
  • Design Technology 1
  • Design Technology 2
  • Environmental Systems and Societies 1
  • Geography 1
  • Geography 2
  • Geography 3
  • Geography 4
  • Geography 5
  • Geography 6
  • Literature and Performance 1
  • Mathematics 1
  • Mathematics 2
  • Mathematics 3
  • Mathematics 4
  • Mathematics 5
  • Philosophy 1
  • Philosophy 2
  • Philosophy 3
  • Philosophy 4
  • Philosophy 5
  • Psychology 1
  • Psychology 2
  • Psychology 3
  • Psychology 4
  • Psychology 5
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 1
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 2
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 3
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 1
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 2
  • Visual Arts 1
  • Visual Arts 2
  • Visual Arts 3
  • Visual Arts 4
  • Visual Arts 5
  • World Religion 1
  • World Religion 2
  • World Religion 3


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how to write an abstract for extended essay

How To Write The Extended Essay (With Topics and Examples)

This comprehensive guide navigates through every aspect of the EE, from selecting a topic and developing a research question to conducting in-depth research and writing a compelling essay. It offers practical strategies, insights, and tips to help students craft a piece of work that not only meets the rigorous standards of the IB but also reflects their academic passion and curiosity. Join us as we explore the keys to success in the Extended Essay, preparing you for an intellectually rewarding experience.

Posted: 13th February 2024

Section jump links:

Section 1: Understanding the IB Extended Essay

Section 2: the importance of the extended essay, section 3: selecting a topic, section 4: developing your research question, section 5: research methodology and theoretical frameworks, section 6: evaluating sources and data, section 7: integrating evidence and analysis, section 8: writing and structuring the extended essay, section 9: reflection and the rppf, section 10: the significance of academic discipline in the ee, section 11: good practice in extended essay writing, section 12: managing the extended essay process, section 13: collaboration and feedback, section 14: avoiding plagiarism, section 15: emphasising original thought, section 16: final presentation and viva voce, section 17: beyond the extended essay, what is the ib extended essay.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay (EE) is a cornerstone of the IB Diploma Programme . It’s an independent, self-directed piece of research, culminating in a 4,000-word paper. This project offers students an opportunity to investigate a topic of their own choice, bridging the gap between classwork and the kind of research required at the university level.

Key Objectives and the Role of the EE in the IB Curriculum

The Extended Essay has several key objectives:

  • To provide students with the chance to engage in an in-depth study of a question of interest within a chosen subject.
  • To develop research, thinking, self-management, and communication skills.
  • To introduce students to the excitement and challenges of academic research.

The EE plays a critical role in the IB curriculum by:

  • Encouraging intellectual discovery and creativity.
  • Facilitating academic growth and personal development through research and writing.
  • Preparing students for the rigours of higher education.

Extended Essay Word Count and Requirements

The EE has a maximum word count of 4,000 words. This does not include the abstract, contents page, bibliography, or footnotes (which must be used sparingly). Here are some essential requirements:

  • Research Question: Your essay must be focused on a clear, concise research question. You should aim to provide a comprehensive answer to this question through your research and writing.
  • Subject : The EE can be written in one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma or in a subject recognized by the IB.
  • Supervision : Each student is assigned a supervisor (usually a teacher in their school) who provides guidance and support throughout the research and writing process.
  • Assessment: The essay is externally assessed by the IB, contributing up to three points towards the total score for the IB diploma, depending on the grade achieved and the performance in the Theory of Knowledge course.

The Extended Essay is not just an academic requirement but a unique opportunity to explore a topic of personal interest in depth. This can be an incredibly rewarding experience, providing valuable skills and insights that will serve you well in your future academic and professional endeavours.

how to write an abstract for extended essay

The EE is more than just a requirement for the IB Diploma. It’s an essential part of the IB experience , offering profound benefits for students. Let’s explore why the EE holds such significance.

Academic and Personal Development Benefits

Skill enhancement:.

The EE fosters a range of academic skills crucial for success in higher education and beyond. It teaches students how to:

  • Conduct comprehensive research
  • Develop a coherent argument
  • Write extensively on a subject
  • Manage time effectively

Personal Growth:

Beyond academic prowess, the EE encourages personal development. Students learn to:

  • Pursue their interests deeply
  • Overcome challenges independently
  • Reflect on their learning process
  • Enhance their curiosity and creativity

Contribution to University Admissions

Standout applications:.

The EE can be a significant advantage in university applications . It demonstrates a student’s ability to undertake serious research projects and commit to an intensive academic task. Universities value this dedication, seeing it as indicative of a student’s readiness for undergraduate studies.

Showcase of Skills:

The EE allows students to showcase their research, writing, and analytical skills. It provides concrete evidence of their academic abilities and their capacity to engage deeply with a topic of interest.

Skill Development: Research, Writing, and Critical Thinking

Research Skills:

Students learn to navigate academic literature, evaluate sources, and gather relevant data. This process sharpens their research skills, laying a solid foundation for future academic endeavours.

Writing Skills:

Crafting a 4,000-word essay challenges students to express their ideas clearly and persuasively. It hones their writing skills, teaching them the art of structured and focused academic writing.

Critical Thinking:

The EE encourages students to analyse information critically, assess arguments, and develop their viewpoints. This critical engagement fosters a sophisticated level of thought, beneficial in both academic and real-world contexts.

In conclusion, the Extended Essay is a pivotal element of the IB Diploma Programme. It’s an invaluable opportunity for intellectual and personal growth, preparing students for the challenges of higher education and beyond. With its emphasis on independent research and writing, the EE equips students with the skills and confidence to navigate their future academic journeys successfully.

how to write an abstract for extended essay

Choosing a topic for your Extended Essay is the first step in a journey towards developing a deep understanding of a specific area of interest. It’s crucial to select a topic that is not only academically viable but also personally engaging. Here’s how to navigate this critical phase.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your EE Topic

Interest and passion:.

Select a topic that fascinates you. Your interest will sustain motivation over the months of research and writing.

Availability of Resources:

Ensure there are enough resources available on your chosen topic. Access to libraries, databases, and experts in the field is essential for comprehensive research.

Scope and Focus:

The topic should be narrow enough to allow for in-depth study yet broad enough to find sufficient research material. Balancing specificity with resource availability is key.

IB Subject Areas:

Your topic must align with one of the subjects you are studying in the IB Diploma Programme or an approved subject area. Familiarity with the subject’s methodology and criteria is crucial for success.

How to Align Your Interests with the IB Subjects

Explore the syllabus:.

Review the syllabus of your IB subjects to identify topics that interest you. This can provide a framework for your EE.

Consult with Teachers:

Teachers can offer insights into feasible topics that align with the IB criteria and offer guidance on how to approach them.

Consider Interdisciplinary Topics:

Some of the most engaging EEs explore the intersection between different subjects. If this interests you, ensure your approach meets the criteria for an interdisciplinary essay under the IB’s World Studies EE option.

Extended Essay Topics: Examples Across Various Disciplines

  • Sciences: How does the introduction of non-native plant species affect biodiversity in your local ecosystem?
  • History : What was the impact of Winston Churchill’s leadership on Britain’s role in World War II?
  • English: How does the use of unreliable narrators influence the reader’s perception in Ian McEwan’s novels?
  • Mathematics: Investigating the application of the Fibonacci sequence in predicting stock market movements.
  • Visual Arts: Exploring the influence of Japanese art on Claude Monet’s painting style.

Selecting the right topic is foundational to your EE journey. It shapes your research direction, influences your engagement with the essay, and ultimately contributes to the satisfaction and success of your EE experience. Take your time, consult widely, and choose a topic that you are eager to explore in depth.

how to write an abstract for extended essay

Crafting a focused and clear research question is a pivotal element of your Extended Essay. This question not only guides your research but also frames your essay’s entire structure. It’s the question to which your essay will provide an answer, and as such, it requires thoughtful consideration and precision.

A well-developed research question should be specific, relevant, and challenging. It should invite analysis, discussion, and the exploration of significant academic literature. Here’s a deeper look into formulating a robust research question for your EE.

Characteristics of a Strong Research Question

The hallmark of a strong research question is its specificity. It shouldn’t be too broad, as this could lead to a superficial treatment of the topic. 

Conversely, a question that’s too narrow might not allow for comprehensive exploration or significant discussion. Finding a balance is key. The question should also be focused on a particular aspect of a subject area, enabling in-depth analysis within the word count limit.

Another important characteristic is the question’s alignment with available resources. Before finalising your question, ensure that you have access to sufficient data and scholarly research to support your investigation. This might involve preliminary searches in academic databases, libraries, or consultation with your supervisor.

Tips for Refining Your Research Question

Start by brainstorming broad topic areas that interest you. Once you’ve identified a general area of interest, begin narrowing down by asking yourself specific questions about the topic. What aspects of this topic are unexplored or underexplored? What specific angle can I take that will make my research unique?

It’s also beneficial to review past EEs or academic journals for inspiration. Seeing how others have structured their research questions can provide valuable insight into crafting your own. However, ensure your question remains original and tailored to your interests.

Examples of Effective Research Questions

To give you an idea of what a well-formulated research question looks like, here are a few examples:

  • Biology: How does the concentration of a specific nutrient affect the growth rate of plant species X in a hydroponic setup compared to soil-based growth?
  • History: To what extent did the public speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. influence the public’s perception of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States between 1963 and 1968?
  • Economics: How significant is the impact of recent economic policies on small businesses in [specific location] during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • English Literature: How does the use of magical realism in Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ reflect the political and social issues of post-colonial Latin America?

Developing your research question is an iterative process. It may evolve as you delve deeper into your research. Be open to refining your question based on the information you discover and discussions with your supervisor. A well-crafted research question will not only guide your research effectively but also engage your interest throughout the writing process, leading to a more meaningful and insightful Extended Essay.

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A critical component of your Extended Essay is selecting an appropriate research methodology and theoretical framework. These elements are foundational to conducting your research and crafting your argument, influencing how you collect, analyse, and interpret data.

Understanding Research Methodologies

Research methodology refers to the systematic approach you take to investigate your research question. It encompasses the methods and procedures you use to collect and analyse data. Your chosen methodology should align with the nature of your research question and the objectives of your essay.

In the sciences, for example, your methodology might involve experiments, observations, or simulations to gather empirical data. In the humanities, you may lean towards content analysis, comparative analysis, or historical investigation, relying on textual or archival sources.

Selecting the right methodology is crucial. It should provide a clear path to answering your research question, considering the resources available and the scope of your essay. It’s also important to justify your choice of methodology in your essay, explaining why it’s appropriate for your research question and how it will help you achieve your objectives.

Applying Theoretical Frameworks

Theoretical frameworks provide a lens through which your research is conducted and interpreted. They offer a structured way to understand and analyse your findings, grounding your study in existing knowledge and theories.

Choosing a theoretical framework involves identifying relevant theories, models, or concepts that apply to your topic. For instance, if you’re exploring media representation of gender, you might utilise feminist theory as a framework to analyse your findings. In economics, you might apply game theory to understand competitive behaviours in a market.

The framework should guide your analysis, providing a coherent basis for interpreting your data. It helps to structure your argument, offering a deeper insight into the significance of your findings within the broader academic discourse.

Integrating Methodology and Frameworks into Your Research

Successfully integrating your chosen methodology and theoretical framework involves a few key steps:

  • Clarify the Scope: Ensure your research question, methodology, and theoretical framework align in scope and focus. They should work together seamlessly to guide your research.
  • Justify Your Choices: Explain the rationale behind your chosen methodology and framework. Discuss why they are suitable for your research question and how they will support your investigation.
  • Apply Consistently: Use your methodology and framework consistently throughout your research and analysis. This consistency strengthens the coherence and academic rigour of your essay.

Reflecting on these components during the planning stage can enhance the quality of your research and the clarity of your argument. Your methodology and theoretical framework are not just academic requirements; they’re tools that shape the direction and depth of your inquiry, enabling a more structured and insightful exploration of your topic.

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In the journey of crafting an Extended Essay (EE), the ability to critically evaluate sources and data stands as a fundamental skill. This evaluation is crucial in establishing the credibility and reliability of the information that forms the backbone of your research. Understanding how to discern the quality and relevance of your sources ensures that your EE is built on a solid foundation of trustworthy information.

Criteria for Selecting Credible and Relevant Sources

Authority: Consider the source’s authorship. Look for works by experts in the field, academic institutions, or reputable organisations. The author’s qualifications and affiliations can significantly impact the reliability of the information.

Accuracy: The information should be supported by evidence, referenced appropriately, and free from factual errors. Reliable sources often undergo a peer-review process, ensuring that the content is scrutinised and validated by other experts in the field.

Currency: The relevance of information can diminish over time, especially in fields that evolve rapidly, such as science and technology. Ensure that the sources you use are up-to-date, reflecting the latest research and developments.

Purpose: Understand the purpose behind the information. Is it to inform, persuade, entertain, or sell? Recognising the intent can help you assess potential biases, which is particularly important when dealing with controversial topics.

Techniques for Evaluating the Reliability and Validity of Data

Cross-Verification: Cross-check information across multiple sources to verify its accuracy and reliability. Consistency among various sources can be a good indicator of the information’s validity.

Statistical Analysis: When dealing with numerical data, consider its statistical significance and the methodology used in its collection. Reliable data should be gathered using sound scientific methods and accurately represent the population or phenomena studied.

Source Evaluation Tools: Utilise tools and checklists designed to evaluate the credibility of sources. These can provide a structured approach to assessing the quality of your research materials.

Incorporating Primary vs. Secondary Sources Effectively

Primary Sources: These are firsthand accounts or direct evidence concerning the topic you’re researching. They include interviews, surveys, experiments, and historical documents. Primary sources offer original insights and data, allowing for a deeper and more personal engagement with your subject.

Secondary Sources: These sources analyse, interpret, or summarise information from primary sources. They include textbooks, articles, and reviews. Secondary sources can provide context, background, and a broader perspective on your topic.

Balancing primary and secondary sources enriches your research, providing both the raw data and the interpretations that help frame your analysis. By rigorously evaluating sources and data, you ensure that your Extended Essay rests on a foundation of credible and relevant information, enhancing the depth and rigour of your investigation.

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The heart of a compelling Extended Essay (EE) lies in the seamless integration of evidence and analysis. This integration not only supports and substantiates your arguments but also demonstrates your ability to critically engage with your research topic. Here’s how to weave evidence and analysis together in a way that enhances the strength and persuasiveness of your EE.

Strategies for Integrating Evidence Seamlessly into Your Argument

Directly Link Evidence to Your Thesis: Every piece of evidence you include should directly support or relate to your thesis statement. This ensures that all the information contributes to building your argument coherently.

Use Evidence to Illustrate Points: Utilise examples, data, quotes, and case studies as concrete evidence to illustrate your points. This makes abstract concepts more tangible and convincing to the reader.

Analyse, Don’t Just Present: For every piece of evidence, provide analysis and interpretation. Explain how it supports your argument, what it demonstrates, and its implications for your research question.

Balancing Descriptive and Analytical Writing

Avoid Over-Description: While some description is necessary to set the context, avoid dedicating too much space to merely describing your evidence. The focus should be on analysis.

Develop a Critical Voice: Cultivate a critical approach to your evidence. This means evaluating its reliability, considering its limitations, and discussing its relevance to your argument.

Synthesise Information: Aim to synthesise evidence from multiple sources to support your points. This demonstrates comprehensive understanding and the ability to draw connections across your research.

How to Critically Analyse Sources and Data Within Your Essay

Question the Source: Consider the source’s origin, purpose, and potential bias. How might these factors influence the information presented?

Evaluate Methodology: If the evidence comes from a study or experiment, evaluate the methodology used. Is it sound and appropriate for the research question?

Consider the Broader Context: Place your evidence within the broader scholarly conversation on your topic. How does it fit with, challenge, or expand existing knowledge?

By thoughtfully integrating evidence and providing in-depth analysis, you can create a nuanced and compelling EE that goes beyond mere description to offer original insights into your topic. This approach not only strengthens your argument but also showcases your critical thinking and analytical skills, essential qualities for success in the IB Diploma Programme and beyond.

The Extended Essay presents an opportunity for IB students to engage deeply with a topic of their choice. However, to effectively communicate your research and insights, your essay must be well-structured and clearly written. 

This section provides guidance on how to write and structure your EE, ensuring your work is coherent, persuasive, and academically rigorous.

Outline of the Extended Essay Structure

A well-organised structure is crucial for the readability and coherence of your EE. Typically, an Extended Essay includes the following components:

  • Title Page: Displays the essay title, research question, subject the essay is registered in, and word count.
  • Abstract: A concise summary of the essay, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusion (Note: For essays submitted in 2018 and forward, the IB no longer requires an abstract, so check the most current guidelines).
  • Contents Page: Lists the sections and subsections of your essay with page numbers.
  • Introduction: Introduces the research question and your essay’s purpose, outlining the scope of the investigation.
  • Body : The main section of your essay, divided into clearly titled subsections, each addressing specific aspects of the research question. It’s where you present your argument, supported by evidence.
  • Conclusion: Summarises the findings, discusses the implications, and reflects on the research’s limitations and potential areas for further study.
  • References/Bibliography: Lists all sources used in the essay in a consistent format, following the chosen citation style.
  • Appendices: (If necessary) Contains supplementary material that is relevant to the research but not essential to its explanation.

Detailed Breakdown of Each Section


The introduction sets the stage for your research. It should clearly state your research question and explain the significance of the topic. Briefly outline the theoretical framework and methodology, and provide an overview of the essay’s structure.

The body is the heart of your essay. It should be logically organised to build your argument step by step. Each paragraph should start with a clear topic sentence, followed by evidence and analysis. Use subheadings to divide the sections thematically or methodologically, ensuring each part contributes to answering the research question.

  • Developing Arguments: Present and critique different perspectives, systematically leading the reader through your analytical process.
  • Using Evidence: Incorporate relevant data, quotes, and examples to support your arguments. Ensure all sources are appropriately cited.
  • Analysis and Discussion: Go beyond describing your findings; analyse and interpret them in the context of your research question and theoretical framework.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should not introduce new information. Instead, it should synthesise your findings, highlighting how they contribute to understanding the research question. Reflect on the research process, acknowledging any limitations and suggesting areas for further investigation.

Importance of Coherence and Logical Flow

Maintaining coherence and a logical flow throughout your EE is essential. Transition sentences between paragraphs and sections can help link ideas smoothly, guiding the reader through your argument. A coherent structure ensures that your essay is accessible and persuasive, making a strong impression on the reader.

A well-written and structured EE is a testament to your understanding of the research process and your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively. By adhering to a clear structure and focusing on coherence and logical progression, you can craft an essay that is engaging, insightful, and academically rigorous.

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A unique and integral component of the IB Extended Essay (EE) process is the Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF). The RPPF serves as a personal and academic exploration tool, guiding students through the planning, research, and writing phases of their EE. It encourages students to reflect on their learning journey, documenting insights gained, challenges encountered, and the evolution of their thinking.

The Role of Reflection in the EE Process

Reflection is at the heart of the EE, enabling students to engage critically with their own learning processes. It helps in:

  • Self-Assessment: Encouraging students to consider their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Skill Development: Facilitating a deeper understanding of the research and writing skills developed during the EE process.
  • Critical Thinking: Promoting an evaluative approach to the research process, allowing students to make informed decisions about their methodologies, sources, and arguments.

How to Effectively Complete the RPPF

Completing the RPPF involves three formal reflection sessions, which are crucial milestones in the EE journey:

  • Initial Reflection: Focuses on the selection of the topic and formulation of the research question. Students should discuss their motivations, initial ideas, and anticipated challenges.
  • Interim Reflection: Occurs midway through the process. Students reflect on the progress made, adjustments to their research plan, and any challenges they’ve faced. It’s an opportunity to reassess the direction of the EE and make necessary modifications.
  • Final Reflection: After completing the EE, students reflect on their overall experience, the skills they’ve developed, and the knowledge they’ve gained. This reflection should also consider the impact of the research process on their personal and academic growth.

In each reflection, students should be honest and critical, providing insights into their learning journey. The reflections are not just about documenting successes but also about understanding the learning process, including setbacks and how they were overcome.

Examples of Reflective Questions and Insightful Responses

Initial reflection:.

Question: “What excites me about my chosen topic?”

Insightful Response: Discuss the personal or academic interest in the topic, any prior knowledge, and what you hope to discover through your research.

Interim Reflection:

Question: “What challenges have I encountered in my research, and how have I addressed them?”

Insightful Response: Describe specific obstacles, such as difficulty accessing resources or refining the research question, and the strategies employed to overcome them.

Final Reflection:

Question: “How has my understanding of the topic evolved through the research process?”

Insightful Response: Reflect on how the research challenged or confirmed initial assumptions and what was learned about the topic and the research process itself.

The RPPF is not just a formal requirement but a valuable component of the EE that enriches the student’s learning experience. By fostering reflection, the RPPF helps students to articulate their journey, offering insights into the complexities of research and the personal growth that accompanies the creation of an extended academic work.

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The Extended Essay allows students to explore a topic of interest within the framework of an IB subject. The choice of academic discipline not only shapes the content and focus of the essay but also influences the methodologies and theoretical frameworks that students may employ. Understanding and adhering to the conventions and requirements of the chosen discipline is crucial for the success of the EE.

Adhering to Disciplinary Conventions and Guidelines

Each academic discipline has its own set of conventions regarding research methodologies, writing styles, and citation formats. For example, a science EE might require empirical research and quantitative analysis, whereas an essay in the humanities might focus on qualitative analysis and critical interpretation of texts.

Key considerations include:

  • Methodology: The choice of methodology should align with disciplinary norms. Science EEs might involve experiments, whereas essays in history might rely on primary source analysis.
  • Structure: While the basic structure of the EE remains consistent across subjects, the presentation of arguments and evidence might vary. Essays in the arts and humanities might follow a thematic structure, while those in the sciences might be organised around experimental findings.
  • Citation Style: Different disciplines prefer specific citation styles. For instance, APA might be favoured in psychology, while MLA is commonly used in literature essays. Adhering to the appropriate style is crucial for academic integrity.

How Different Disciplines Influence the Approach to Research and Writing

The academic discipline not only dictates the formal aspects of the EE but also influences the approach to research and writing. For instance, an EE in Visual Arts would require a different analytical lens compared to an EE in Economics. The former might analyse the impact of cultural contexts on artistic expressions, while the latter could evaluate economic theories through case studies.

Disciplinary perspectives also affect:

  • Argumentation : The way arguments are constructed and evidenced can differ. In the sciences, arguments are often built around data and logical reasoning, while in the humanities, they might be more interpretative, drawing on various theoretical perspectives.
  • Critical Engagement: The extent and nature of critical engagement with sources can vary. In subjects like History or English, a critical analysis of diverse interpretations is fundamental, whereas in the Sciences, the focus might be on empirical evidence and hypothesis testing.

Examples of Disciplinary Perspectives in Extended Essay Examples

  • Biology EE: An investigation into the effects of environmental changes on local biodiversity, employing scientific methods for data collection and analysis.
  • Economics EE: An analysis of the impact of a specific economic policy on a local economy, using economic theories and models to interpret data.
  • English Literature EE: A comparative study of the theme of alienation in two novels, using literary theories to explore the authors’ narrative techniques.

Understanding the significance of academic discipline in the EE ensures that students approach their research with the appropriate methodologies and analytical frameworks. It encourages respect for the depth and breadth of the subject area, contributing to a more nuanced and informed exploration of the chosen topic.

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Writing an Extended Essay involves more than just conducting research and presenting findings; it requires careful planning, effective engagement with your supervisor, and a critical approach to your sources. Here are some best practices to help you navigate the EE writing process successfully.

Time Management and Planning

Time management is crucial in the EE process. The project spans several months, so it’s essential to break down the work into manageable stages. Create a timeline early in the process, including key milestones such as completing the research, drafting sections, and finalising the essay. Allocate time for unexpected challenges and ensure you have buffer periods for revision and feedback.

Planning Tips:

  • Set Goals: Establish clear, achievable goals for each phase of your EE journey.
  • Use Tools: Leverage planning tools or software to organise your tasks and deadlines.
  • Regular Reviews: Periodically review your progress against your plan and adjust as necessary.

Engaging with Supervisors Effectively:Your supervisor is a valuable resource throughout the EE process. They can provide guidance on your research question, methodology, and essay structure, as well as feedback on your drafts.

Maximising Supervisor Engagement:

  • Prepare for Meetings: Come to each meeting with specific questions or sections of your essay you want feedback on.
  • Be Open to Feedback: Constructive criticism is essential for improvement. Listen to your supervisor’s suggestions and consider how to incorporate them into your work.
  • Communicate Regularly: Keep your supervisor informed of your progress and any challenges you encounter.

Critical Engagement with Sources

A critical approach to the sources you use is fundamental to a high-quality EE. Evaluate the reliability, relevance, and bias of your sources to ensure your essay is grounded in credible evidence.

Strategies for Source Evaluation:

  • Source Variety: Use a range of sources, including academic journals, books, and reputable online resources, to provide a balanced perspective on your topic.
  • Critical Analysis : Don’t just summarise sources. Analyse their arguments, identify limitations, and consider how they contribute to your research question.
  • Citation and Paraphrasing: Accurately cite all sources to avoid plagiarism. When paraphrasing, ensure you’re genuinely rephrasing ideas in your own words while still crediting the original author.

Good practice in EE writing is not just about adhering to academic standards; it’s about engaging deeply with your topic, embracing the research process, and developing skills that will serve you well in your academic and professional future. By managing your time effectively, leveraging the support of your supervisor, and critically engaging with sources, you can craft an EE that is not only academically rigorous but also personally rewarding.

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Successfully navigating the Extended Essay process requires more than just academic skill; it demands effective project management. This encompasses planning, organising, and executing your EE from initial conception to final submission. Here are strategies to help you manage the EE process, ensuring a smooth journey and a rewarding outcome.

Planning and Time Management Strategies Specific to the EE

Develop a Detailed Plan: Start by breaking down the EE process into stages: topic selection, research, drafting, and revising. Assign deadlines to each stage based on the final submission date, allowing extra time for unforeseen delays.

Use a Calendar or Planner: Keep track of deadlines, meetings with your supervisor, and other important dates. Digital tools can be particularly useful, offering reminders and helping you stay organised.

Set Regular Milestones: Milestones offer checkpoints to assess your progress. These could be completing the research phase, finishing a first draft, or finalising your citations. Celebrate these achievements to stay motivated.

Milestones and Checklists to Keep You on Track

Create Checklists: For each phase of the EE process, develop a checklist of tasks. This could include conducting initial research, writing specific sections of the essay, or completing rounds of revision.

Regular Progress Reviews: Schedule weekly or bi-weekly reviews of your progress against your plan. Adjust your plan as needed based on these reviews.

Stay Flexible: Be prepared to adapt your plan. Research might take longer than expected, or you might decide to change your focus slightly after discussing with your supervisor.

Dealing with Challenges and Setbacks During the EE Journey

Anticipate Potential Issues: Think ahead about what might go wrong and how you would address it. Having contingency plans can reduce stress and keep you on track.

Seek Support When Needed: Don’t hesitate to reach out to your supervisor, peers, or other mentors if you encounter obstacles. They can offer advice, support, and perspective.

Maintain a Positive Attitude: Challenges are part of the learning process. View setbacks as opportunities to improve your problem-solving and resilience skills.

Managing the EE process effectively is about more than just completing a requirement for the IB Diploma; it’s an exercise in self-management and personal growth. By carefully planning your work, setting and celebrating milestones, and being prepared to tackle challenges, you can navigate the EE process with confidence and achieve a result that reflects your hard work and dedication.

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Mastering the art of collaboration and effectively incorporating feedback are pivotal aspects of crafting a high-calibre Extended Essay (EE). These processes enrich your work, offering new perspectives and insights that can significantly enhance the depth and quality of your research and writing. Let’s delve into how to navigate these collaborative interactions and integrate feedback productively.

Effective Collaboration with Your Supervisor

Your supervisor is a key ally in your EE journey, providing guidance, support, and expert insight into your chosen topic. Building a productive relationship with your supervisor involves clear communication, active engagement, and receptiveness to their advice.

  • Prepare for Meetings: Maximise the value of your meetings by preparing questions and topics for discussion. This shows initiative and helps you focus on areas where you need the most guidance.
  • Be Open to Suggestions: Your supervisor brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. Being open to their suggestions can unlock new avenues of inquiry and refine your research focus.
  • Follow Up: After meetings, review the guidance provided and take action. Following up on suggestions and demonstrating progress is key to a fruitful collaboration.

Incorporating Feedback Constructively

Feedback is a gift, offering you fresh eyes on your work and highlighting areas for improvement. Whether it comes from your supervisor, peers, or other mentors, constructive feedback is instrumental in elevating the quality of your EE.

  • Critically Evaluate Feedback: Not all feedback will be equally applicable or helpful. Assess suggestions critically and decide which ones align with your research goals and vision for your EE.
  • Implement Changes Thoughtfully: When integrating feedback, do so thoughtfully and systematically. Consider how each piece of advice enhances your argument or strengthens your analysis.
  • Maintain Your Own Voice: While it’s important to consider feedback, your EE should ultimately reflect your ideas, analysis, and voice. Balance the input from others with your own scholarly insights.

Balancing Independent Research with Guidance

Navigating the balance between independent research and the guidance received is a delicate aspect of the EE process. While the EE is your project, drawing on the expertise and feedback of others can significantly enhance its depth and scope.

  • Value Independence: Embrace the opportunity to conduct independent research, making your EE a true reflection of your interests and intellectual curiosity.
  • Seek Guidance Wisely: Utilise your supervisor and other resources judiciously. They can provide clarity, offer new perspectives, and help you navigate complex aspects of your research.
  • Synthesise Input: Integrate the guidance and feedback you receive in a way that complements your research, ensuring that your EE remains a coherent and cohesive piece of scholarly work.

The interplay between collaboration, feedback, and independent research is central to the EE process. By engaging effectively with your supervisor, thoughtfully incorporating feedback, and maintaining a balance between guidance and your own scholarly pursuits, you can craft an EE that is not only academically rigorous but also a true testament to your growth as a learner.

Plagiarism is a critical concern in academic writing, including the Extended Essay. It involves using someone else’s work without proper acknowledgment, which can compromise the integrity of your essay and result in severe penalties. Understanding what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it is essential for maintaining academic honesty and ensuring the credibility of your research.

Understanding What Constitutes Plagiarism

Plagiarism can take many forms, from directly copying text without quotation marks to paraphrasing someone else’s ideas without proper citation. It also includes using images, charts, or data without acknowledging the source. Even unintentional plagiarism, where sources are not deliberately misrepresented but are inadequately cited, can have serious consequences.

How to Properly Cite Sources and Paraphrase

Citing Sources : Every time you use someone else’s words, ideas, or data, you must cite the source. This not only includes quotes and paraphrases but also data, images, and charts. Familiarise yourself with the citation style recommended for your subject area, whether it be APA, MLA, Chicago, or another, and apply it consistently throughout your essay.

Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing involves rewording someone else’s ideas in your own words. It’s essential to do more than just change a few words around; you need to completely rewrite the concept, ensuring you still cite the original source. Good paraphrasing demonstrates your understanding of the material and integrates it seamlessly into your argument.

Using Plagiarism Detection Tools

Many schools and students use plagiarism detection tools to check the originality of their work before submission. These tools compare your essay against a vast database of published material and other student submissions to identify any matches. Utilising these tools can help you identify areas of your essay that need better paraphrasing or citation.

Avoiding plagiarism in the EE involves diligent research, careful writing, and thorough citation. It’s about respecting the intellectual property of others while demonstrating your own understanding and analysis of the topic. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your EE is both original and academically honest, reflecting the hard work and integrity that define the IB learner profile.

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In the Extended Essay, showcasing original thought is not just encouraged; it’s a cornerstone of what makes an EE stand out. Originality in this context means more than just avoiding plagiarism; it involves presenting unique perspectives, developing novel arguments, or exploring new areas within a subject. Here’s how you can emphasise original thought in your EE.

The Value of Originality and Creativity

Originality and creativity in the EE demonstrate your ability to think independently and engage critically with your subject. It shows that you’re not just capable of summarising existing knowledge but also contributing to the conversation in your discipline. This level of engagement is what the IB looks for in assessing the EE, as it reflects a deeper understanding and application of the subject matter.

Balancing Academic Rigour with Personal Voice and Analysis

While it’s important to ground your EE in academic research and follow disciplinary conventions, finding a balance with your personal voice and analysis is key to originality. Here are ways to achieve this balance:

  • Personal Insight : Inject your essay with your insights, interpretations, and conclusions based on the research. This personal engagement with the topic distinguishes your EE from a mere literature review.
  • Critical Analysis: Go beyond describing what others have said. Critique the arguments, identify gaps in the research, and propose new ways of understanding the subject.
  • Innovative Approach: Consider addressing less explored aspects of your topic or applying theories and methodologies from other disciplines to bring fresh perspectives.

Strategies for Developing and Showcasing Original Thought

Question Assumptions: Start by questioning the prevailing assumptions or widely held beliefs in your subject area. This critical stance can open up avenues for original analysis.

Interdisciplinary Connections: Drawing connections between different disciplines can reveal new insights and approaches that enrich your essay.

Reflect on Your Learning: Use the insights gained from your coursework and personal interests to inform your approach. Often, your unique educational and life experiences can inspire original perspectives.

Emphasising original thought in your EE is about striking a balance between demonstrating your mastery of the subject and pushing beyond the boundaries of existing knowledge. It involves a blend of thorough research, critical thinking, and creative engagement with the topic. By fostering a unique perspective and injecting your personal voice into your analysis, you can create an EE that is not only academically rigorous but also distinctly yours, leaving a lasting impression on your readers.

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The culmination of the Extended Essay process includes the final presentation and the Viva Voce, a concluding interview between the student and their supervisor. These components serve not only as a summation of your EE journey but also as an opportunity to reflect on your learning and the skills you’ve developed. Understanding the significance and how to prepare for these elements is crucial for a successful EE completion.

Preparing for the Final Presentation

The final presentation is an opportunity to share the highlights of your EE journey, including your research question, methodology, key findings, and any challenges you overcame. It’s a moment to showcase the depth of your research and the personal growth you experienced throughout the process.

Key Elements to Include:

  • Overview of Your Research: Briefly summarise your research question and why you chose it, highlighting your methodology and the scope of your investigation.
  • Significant Findings: Share the key insights and discoveries you made during your research. This is a chance to underscore the original contributions of your EE.
  • Challenges and Solutions : Discuss any significant obstacles you faced and how you addressed them. Reflecting on these challenges shows your problem-solving skills and resilience.
  • Reflections on the Process: Share what you’ve learned about yourself as a learner, the skills you’ve developed, and how the EE has impacted your academic and personal growth.

Tips for a Successful Viva Voce

The Viva Voce is a short interview with your supervisor after you’ve submitted your EE. It’s an integral part of the reflection process, allowing you to discuss the successes and challenges of your research journey.

To Prepare for the Viva Voce:

  • Review Your EE: Be familiar with your essay’s content, as you’ll discuss your work in detail. Be ready to explain your research decisions and reflect on your learning process.
  • Anticipate Questions: Your supervisor might ask about how you selected your topic, the development of your research question, your approach to research and writing, and the skills you’ve developed.
  • Reflect on Your Learning: Think about the entire EE process, including what you learned, how you’ve grown, and how the experience might influence your future academic or career goals.

How the Viva Voce Contributes to Your Overall EE Assessment

While the Viva Voce doesn’t directly affect your EE grade, it plays a crucial role in the holistic assessment of your IB Diploma. It demonstrates the authenticity of your work and your engagement with the EE process, providing insights into your approach, dedication, and intellectual growth.

The final presentation and Viva Voce are essential milestones that mark the completion of your EE journey. They offer a platform to reflect on the challenges you’ve navigated, the knowledge you’ve gained, and the skills you’ve honed. Preparing thoroughly for these elements ensures you can confidently articulate your research journey, showcasing the depth of your inquiry and your development as an IB learner.

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The journey through the Extended Essay is more than an academic exercise; it’s a transformative experience that equips IB Diploma students with skills and insights that extend far beyond the programme.

Reflecting on how the EE prepares you for future academic and professional endeavours can highlight the lasting value of this rigorous project.

How the Skills Developed During the EE Can Benefit You in Future Academic and Professional Endeavours

Research and Analytical Skills: The EE demands a high level of research and analysis, teaching students how to gather, assess, and interpret data. These skills are invaluable in higher education and many professional fields, where evidence-based decision-making is crucial.

Critical Thinking: Crafting an EE requires students to evaluate sources critically, consider multiple perspectives, and develop well-reasoned arguments. This ability to think critically is highly sought after in both academia and the workplace.

Project Management: Completing an EE involves planning, organisation, time management, and problem-solving. Managing such a long-term project successfully can boost your confidence in handling complex tasks and projects in the future.

Communication: Writing the EE enhances your ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively, a skill that is essential in any professional setting. Additionally, the final presentation and Viva Voce develop your verbal communication and presentation skills.

Examples of How the EE Has Helped Alumni in Their Post-IB Journeys

Many IB alumni attribute their success in university and their careers to the foundation laid by their EE experience. For instance, alumni often report that the EE made the transition to university-level research and writing much smoother. Others have found that the skills developed through the EE, such as critical thinking and project management, have set them apart in job interviews and workplace projects.

Encouragement to View the EE as a Stepping Stone to Lifelong Learning

The EE is not just a requirement for the IB Diploma; it’s an introduction to a lifelong journey of inquiry and discovery. It encourages a mindset of curiosity and a habit of continuous learning that can enrich both your personal and professional life. Viewing the EE through this lens can transform it from a daunting task into an exciting opportunity to explore your passions and develop essential skills for the future.

The Extended Essay is a hallmark of the IB Diploma Programme, embodying the essence of inquiry, critical thinking, and scholarly engagement. From selecting a topic and formulating a research question to conducting in-depth research and presenting findings, the EE challenges students to transcend the boundaries of traditional learning, fostering skills and insights that extend far beyond the confines of the classroom.

This comprehensive guide has navigated the critical aspects of the EE process, offering strategies for managing time, engaging with supervisors, and ensuring academic integrity. It has underscored the importance of original thought, the role of academic discipline, and the value of reflection, aiming to equip students with the tools they need to succeed in this rigorous academic endeavour.

The Extended Essay is a testament to your dedication, intellectual curiosity, and academic prowess. Embrace this opportunity to shine, to explore, and to make your mark on the world of knowledge.

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How to Write an Abstract (With Examples)

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how to write an abstract

Table of Contents

What is an abstract in a paper, how long should an abstract be, 5 steps for writing an abstract, examples of an abstract, how prowritingaid can help you write an abstract.

If you are writing a scientific research paper or a book proposal, you need to know how to write an abstract, which summarizes the contents of the paper or book.

When researchers are looking for peer-reviewed papers to use in their studies, the first place they will check is the abstract to see if it applies to their work. Therefore, your abstract is one of the most important parts of your entire paper.

In this article, we’ll explain what an abstract is, what it should include, and how to write one.

An abstract is a concise summary of the details within a report. Some abstracts give more details than others, but the main things you’ll be talking about are why you conducted the research, what you did, and what the results show.

When a reader is deciding whether to read your paper completely, they will first look at the abstract. You need to be concise in your abstract and give the reader the most important information so they can determine if they want to read the whole paper.

Remember that an abstract is the last thing you’ll want to write for the research paper because it directly references parts of the report. If you haven’t written the report, you won’t know what to include in your abstract.

If you are writing a paper for a journal or an assignment, the publication or academic institution might have specific formatting rules for how long your abstract should be. However, if they don’t, most abstracts are between 150 and 300 words long.

A short word count means your writing has to be precise and without filler words or phrases. Once you’ve written a first draft, you can always use an editing tool, such as ProWritingAid, to identify areas where you can reduce words and increase readability.

If your abstract is over the word limit, and you’ve edited it but still can’t figure out how to reduce it further, your abstract might include some things that aren’t needed. Here’s a list of three elements you can remove from your abstract:

Discussion : You don’t need to go into detail about the findings of your research because your reader will find your discussion within the paper.

Definition of terms : Your readers are interested the field you are writing about, so they are likely to understand the terms you are using. If not, they can always look them up. Your readers do not expect you to give a definition of terms in your abstract.

References and citations : You can mention there have been studies that support or have inspired your research, but you do not need to give details as the reader will find them in your bibliography.

how to write an abstract for extended essay

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If you’ve never written an abstract before, and you’re wondering how to write an abstract, we’ve got some steps for you to follow. It’s best to start with planning your abstract, so we’ve outlined the details you need to include in your plan before you write.

Remember to consider your audience when you’re planning and writing your abstract. They are likely to skim read your abstract, so you want to be sure your abstract delivers all the information they’re expecting to see at key points.

1. What Should an Abstract Include?

Abstracts have a lot of information to cover in a short number of words, so it’s important to know what to include. There are three elements that need to be present in your abstract:

Your context is the background for where your research sits within your field of study. You should briefly mention any previous scientific papers or experiments that have led to your hypothesis and how research develops in those studies.

Your hypothesis is your prediction of what your study will show. As you are writing your abstract after you have conducted your research, you should still include your hypothesis in your abstract because it shows the motivation for your paper.

Throughout your abstract, you also need to include keywords and phrases that will help researchers to find your article in the databases they’re searching. Make sure the keywords are specific to your field of study and the subject you’re reporting on, otherwise your article might not reach the relevant audience.

2. Can You Use First Person in an Abstract?

You might think that first person is too informal for a research paper, but it’s not. Historically, writers of academic reports avoided writing in first person to uphold the formality standards of the time. However, first person is more accepted in research papers in modern times.

If you’re still unsure whether to write in first person for your abstract, refer to any style guide rules imposed by the journal you’re writing for or your teachers if you are writing an assignment.

3. Abstract Structure

Some scientific journals have strict rules on how to structure an abstract, so it’s best to check those first. If you don’t have any style rules to follow, try using the IMRaD structure, which stands for Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion.

how to structure an abstract

Following the IMRaD structure, start with an introduction. The amount of background information you should include depends on your specific research area. Adding a broad overview gives you less room to include other details. Remember to include your hypothesis in this section.

The next part of your abstract should cover your methodology. Try to include the following details if they apply to your study:

What type of research was conducted?

How were the test subjects sampled?

What were the sample sizes?

What was done to each group?

How long was the experiment?

How was data recorded and interpreted?

Following the methodology, include a sentence or two about the results, which is where your reader will determine if your research supports or contradicts their own investigations.

The results are also where most people will want to find out what your outcomes were, even if they are just mildly interested in your research area. You should be specific about all the details but as concise as possible.

The last few sentences are your conclusion. It needs to explain how your findings affect the context and whether your hypothesis was correct. Include the primary take-home message, additional findings of importance, and perspective. Also explain whether there is scope for further research into the subject of your report.

Your conclusion should be honest and give the reader the ultimate message that your research shows. Readers trust the conclusion, so make sure you’re not fabricating the results of your research. Some readers won’t read your entire paper, but this section will tell them if it’s worth them referencing it in their own study.

4. How to Start an Abstract

The first line of your abstract should give your reader the context of your report by providing background information. You can use this sentence to imply the motivation for your research.

You don’t need to use a hook phrase or device in your first sentence to grab the reader’s attention. Your reader will look to establish relevance quickly, so readability and clarity are more important than trying to persuade the reader to read on.

5. How to Format an Abstract

Most abstracts use the same formatting rules, which help the reader identify the abstract so they know where to look for it.

Here’s a list of formatting guidelines for writing an abstract:

Stick to one paragraph

Use block formatting with no indentation at the beginning

Put your abstract straight after the title and acknowledgements pages

Use present or past tense, not future tense

There are two primary types of abstract you could write for your paper—descriptive and informative.

An informative abstract is the most common, and they follow the structure mentioned previously. They are longer than descriptive abstracts because they cover more details.

Descriptive abstracts differ from informative abstracts, as they don’t include as much discussion or detail. The word count for a descriptive abstract is between 50 and 150 words.

Here is an example of an informative abstract:

A growing trend exists for authors to employ a more informal writing style that uses “we” in academic writing to acknowledge one’s stance and engagement. However, few studies have compared the ways in which the first-person pronoun “we” is used in the abstracts and conclusions of empirical papers. To address this lacuna in the literature, this study conducted a systematic corpus analysis of the use of “we” in the abstracts and conclusions of 400 articles collected from eight leading electrical and electronic (EE) engineering journals. The abstracts and conclusions were extracted to form two subcorpora, and an integrated framework was applied to analyze and seek to explain how we-clusters and we-collocations were employed. Results revealed whether authors’ use of first-person pronouns partially depends on a journal policy. The trend of using “we” showed that a yearly increase occurred in the frequency of “we” in EE journal papers, as well as the existence of three “we-use” types in the article conclusions and abstracts: exclusive, inclusive, and ambiguous. Other possible “we-use” alternatives such as “I” and other personal pronouns were used very rarely—if at all—in either section. These findings also suggest that the present tense was used more in article abstracts, but the present perfect tense was the most preferred tense in article conclusions. Both research and pedagogical implications are proffered and critically discussed.

Wang, S., Tseng, W.-T., & Johanson, R. (2021). To We or Not to We: Corpus-Based Research on First-Person Pronoun Use in Abstracts and Conclusions. SAGE Open, 11(2).

Here is an example of a descriptive abstract:

From the 1850s to the present, considerable criminological attention has focused on the development of theoretically-significant systems for classifying crime. This article reviews and attempts to evaluate a number of these efforts, and we conclude that further work on this basic task is needed. The latter part of the article explicates a conceptual foundation for a crime pattern classification system, and offers a preliminary taxonomy of crime.

Farr, K. A., & Gibbons, D. C. (1990). Observations on the Development of Crime Categories. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 34(3), 223–237.

If you want to ensure your abstract is grammatically correct and easy to read, you can use ProWritingAid to edit it. The software integrates with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and most web browsers, so you can make the most of it wherever you’re writing your paper.

academic document type

Before you edit with ProWritingAid, make sure the suggestions you are seeing are relevant for your document by changing the document type to “Abstract” within the Academic writing style section.

You can use the Readability report to check your abstract for places to improve the clarity of your writing. Some suggestions might show you where to remove words, which is great if you’re over your word count.

We hope the five steps and examples we’ve provided help you write a great abstract for your research paper.

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Use our free Readability checker

The IB extended essay is a paper of up to 4,000 words that is required for students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. The extended essay allows students to engage in independent research on a topic within one of the available subject areas.

The extended essay should be an original piece of academic writing that demonstrates the following student's abilities:

  • Formulating a research question
  • Conductig independent investigation
  • Presenting key findings in a scholarly format.

Check out this article by StudyCrumb to discover how to write an IB extendend essay properly. We will give you a complete writing guide and critical tips you need for this essay type.

IB Extended Essay: What Is It?

An extended essay is independent research. Usually students choose a topic in consultation with a mentor. It is an integral part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) degree program. This means that you won't receive a degree without a successfully written paper. It requires 4,000-word study on a chosen narrow topic. To get a high score, you should meet all required structure and formatting standards. This is the result of approximately 40 working hours. Its purpose is giving you the opportunity to try independent research writing. It's approved that these skills are critical for student success at university. The following sections explain how to write an extended article with examples. So keep reading!  

Choosing a Mentor for Extended Essay

IB extended essay guidelines require supervisor meetings, totaling 3-5 hours. They include three critical reflections. A mentor won't write a paper instead of you but can help adjust it. So it is important to consult with them, but no one will proofread or correct actual research for you. In general, initially treat an essay as an exclusively individual work. So your role and contribution are maximal.

Extended Essay Outline

Let's take a look at how to write an extended essay outline. In this part, you organize yourself so that your work develops your idea. So we especially recommend you work out this step with your teacher. You can also find any outline example for essay . In your short sketch, plan a roadmap for your thoughts. Think through and prepare a summary of each paragraph. Then, expand annotation of each section with a couple more supporting evidence. Explain how specific examples illustrate key points. Make it more significant by using different opinions on general issues.  

Extended Essay: Getting Started

After you chose an extended essay topic and made an outline, it's time to start your research. Start with a complete Table of Contents and make a choice of a research question. Select the subject in which you feel most confident and which is most interesting for you. For example, if at school you are interested in natural science, focus on that. If you have difficulties choosing a research question, rely on our essay topic generator .

Extended Essay Introduction

In the introduction of an extended essay, present a thesis statement. But do it in such a way that your readers understand the importance of your research. State research question clearly. That is the central question that you are trying to answer while writing. Even your score depends on how you develop your particular research question. Therefore, it is essential to draw it up correctly. Gather all relevant information from relevant sources. Explain why this is worth exploring. Then provide a research plan, which you will disclose further.  

Extended Essay Methodology

In accordance with extended essay guidelines, it's mandatory to choose and clearly state a methodological approach. So, it will be apparent to your examiner how you answered your research question. Include your collection methods and tools you use for collection and analysis. Your strategies can be experimental or descriptive, quantitative or qualitative. Research collection tools include observations, questionnaires, interviews, or background knowledge.

Extended Essay Main Body

Well, here we come to the most voluminous part of the extended essay for IB! In every essay body paragraph , you reveal your research question and discuss your topic. Provide all details of your academic study. But stay focused and do it without dubious ideas. Use different sources of information to provide supporting arguments and substantial evidence. This will impress professors. For this section, 3 main paragraphs are enough. Discuss each idea or argument in a separate paragraph. You can even use supporting quotes where appropriate. But don't overcomplicate. Make your extended essay easy to read and logical. It's critical to stay concise, so if you aren't sure how to make your text readable, use our tool to get a readbility test . Following the plan you outlined earlier is very important. Analyze each fact before including it in your writing. And don't write unnecessary information.

Extended Essay Conclusion

Now let's move on to the final part of IB extended essay guidelines. In conclusion, focus on summarizing the main points you have made. No new ideas or information can be introduced in this part. Use conclusion as your last chance to impress your readers. Reframe your own strong thesis. Here you must show all key points. Do not repeat absolutely every argument. Better try to make this part unique. This will show that you have a clear understanding of the topic you have chosen. And even more professional will be recommendations of new areas for future research. One good paragraph may be enough here. Although in some cases, two or three paragraphs may be required.

Extended Essay Bibliography & Appendices

To write an impressive extended essay, you should focus on appropriate information. You must create a separate page for bibliography with all sources you used. Tip from us: start writing this page with the first quote you use. Don't write this part last or postpone. In turn, appendices are not an essential section. Examiners will not pay much attention to this part. Therefore, include all information directly related to analysis and argumentation in the main body. Include raw data in the appendix only if it is really urgently needed. Moreover, it is better not to refer to appendices in text itself. This can disrupt the narrative of the essay.  

Extended Essay Examples

We have prepared a good example of an extended essay. You can check it by downloading it for free. You can use it as a template. However, pay attention that your paper is required to be unique. Don't be afraid to present all the skills you gained during your IB.


Final Thoughts on IB Extended Essay

In this article, we presented detailed IB extended essay guidelines. An extended essay is a daunting academic challenge to write. It is a research paper with a deep thematic analysis of information. But we have described several practical and straightforward tips. Therefore, we are sure that you will succeed!


If topics seem too complex, turn to our top essay writers. They will accomplish any IB assignment in the best way your professor can evaluate it!  


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.


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Research Skills: Write an abstract

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Write an abstract

Write an abstract 

An abstract must be included for the IB Extended Essay but not for the A-level Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

An abstract is seperate from the actual essay and provides a preview of the whole essay.

In the 'Present' section:

Quote, paraphrase and summarise

Avoid plagiarism

Reference your sources

Use Turnitin

Plan a presentation

The abstract

The abstract for the Extended Essay must:

  • Be a maximum of 300 words in length
  • Contain your research question
  • Include your main conclusions
  • Explain how you went about gathering the information, evidence and data that you have used

Quick tip: Write your abstract when all other parts of your essay have been completed.

Find more information in this slideshow:

Presentation by Mrs J Makselon, Tanglin Trust School

(Extended Essay students are not required to prepare a presentation)   

(don't forget, an abstract is NOT required for EPQ)  

  • Last Updated: Apr 3, 2023 10:38 AM
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Extended Essay Abstract: What You Need to Know in 2023

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by  Antony W

October 28, 2023

Extended Essay Abstract

One of the major concerns we need to address is the inclusion of an abstract in an extended essay . Should your work include a mini-version of the essay that stands on its own? Or should you not include the abstract in the essay?

For what it’s worth, an abstract in the essay helps a potential reader to determine whether your paper is useful and worth reading.

In other words, it gives them a complete picture of your ideas and expression, and acts as the deciding factor on whether to read the rest of the paper.

In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about abstracts in an extended essay with the intention of helping you to structure the essay the right.

Key Takeaways

  • Your extended essay must  NOT  include an abstract. 
  • You can use the introduction section of your work to give a summary of what you'll discuss in your project. 
  • The structure of the EE hasn't changed that much except for the removal of the abstract section. 

Do you need help with your Extended Essay work? Our expert writers are here to help you get the work completed on time. 

What’s an Abstract in an Extended Essay?

An abstract in an extended essay is a paragraph that gives an overview of the essay.

It clearly expresses the central idea of the assignment and outlines the key points of the essay. Moreover, the abstract indicates the application of the research or its implication thereof.

An abstract should be at most 300 words long. Some are shorter, with the length ranging between 150 and 200 words.

Also, the summary should be concise, so that anyone reading it will know what to expect from the essay even before proceeding to the introduction to the extended essay.

Understand that an abstract is an overview of a paper, not a proposal. In other words, the intention is not to tell a reader what the research will accomplish.

Rather, the goal is to express your ideas in a condensed form to make it easier for your target readers to determine whether the essay will be worth reading in the first place.

Should an Extended Essay Include an Abstract?

In 2018, IB made changes to the extended essay in which they excluded the need to have an abstract in the assignment, so your extended essay should NOT have an abstract regardless of the type of subject group you choose to work on.

Nowadays, including an abstract in an extended essay is a clear expression for lack of engagement.

Also, IB argues that the summary uses up 300 words and it might even make the reader not read to the conclusion of the assignment.

Remember, adding an abstract to your extended essay can cause you many marks, as it’s generally a writing practice based on the old criteria. Use the latest marking criteria instead.

What’s the Current Structure for an Extended Essay?

With the abstract removed from the extended essay format , what should the outline of the assignment look like?

Well, except for the removal of the abstract, everything else remains the same. So your teacher will expect to see a higher level of organization of your argument and evidence for the support of your position.

There are currently six elements that your extended essay must have. These are as follow in their respective order:

The title page of your extended essay should have the following information:

  • The essay’s title
  • Your research question
  • The subject of the essay
  • The word count

Note that the word count of your extended essay must not exceed 4,000 words. IB strongly advises examiners NOT to read materials that exceed the word limit.

And don’t forget that writing more words can easily lead to the self-penalization across all criteria. 

Contents page 

Make sure you provide all the contents page right at the beginning of the essay.

Each page should have number. Examiners often disregard the index page and won’t consider it if they see one in your essay.


The introduction of an extended essay shouldn’t be difficult to write, in part because you’re working on a subject of your choice.

However, you need to make sure it clearly explains to the reader what to expect in the essay.

Body of the Essay

This is where a lot of work is, and your presentation should be in the form of reasonable argument.

Although this form will vary depending on the subject, the argument you develop should clearly show the evidence you’ve discovered and demonstrate how it supports your claim in the essay.

As you work on your essay, please consider the expected conventions of the subject you’re working on.

Include as much relevant information in the essay as you possibly can, making sure you don’t include significant information in the footnote because that might make your essay read as incomplete.

In the conclusion, your extended essay should clearly explain what your research has achieved. Also, this is the section where you include questions your research failed to solve and the limitations noted in your work.

Note that the conclusion of your essay must relate to the research question. 

References and bibliography

Use the given style of academic referencing. We strongly recommend that you include references in your essay as soon as you start writing so that you don’t forget the citations.

What Formatting Should I Use for my Extended Essay?

IB recommends that you write your EE in a clear, correct, and formal academic style, without an exception for any subject.

In other words, your extended essay is a formal piece of writing that should sound professional in tone and remain 100% academic in format from the start to the end of the essay. 

Your teacher and supervisor looks forward to seeing the following formatting reflected in your extended essay:

  • Double-spacing
  • Times New Roman, 12-point font
  • Page number positioned at the top right corner
  • No student, school, or supervisor name on the page headers or title page 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Definition and Purpose of Abstracts

An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes:

  • an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to read the full paper;
  • an abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in your full paper;
  • and, later, an abstract helps readers remember key points from your paper.

It’s also worth remembering that search engines and bibliographic databases use abstracts, as well as the title, to identify key terms for indexing your published paper. So what you include in your abstract and in your title are crucial for helping other researchers find your paper or article.

If you are writing an abstract for a course paper, your professor may give you specific guidelines for what to include and how to organize your abstract. Similarly, academic journals often have specific requirements for abstracts. So in addition to following the advice on this page, you should be sure to look for and follow any guidelines from the course or journal you’re writing for.

The Contents of an Abstract

Abstracts contain most of the following kinds of information in brief form. The body of your paper will, of course, develop and explain these ideas much more fully. As you will see in the samples below, the proportion of your abstract that you devote to each kind of information—and the sequence of that information—will vary, depending on the nature and genre of the paper that you are summarizing in your abstract. And in some cases, some of this information is implied, rather than stated explicitly. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , which is widely used in the social sciences, gives specific guidelines for what to include in the abstract for different kinds of papers—for empirical studies, literature reviews or meta-analyses, theoretical papers, methodological papers, and case studies.

Here are the typical kinds of information found in most abstracts:

  • the context or background information for your research; the general topic under study; the specific topic of your research
  • the central questions or statement of the problem your research addresses
  • what’s already known about this question, what previous research has done or shown
  • the main reason(s) , the exigency, the rationale , the goals for your research—Why is it important to address these questions? Are you, for example, examining a new topic? Why is that topic worth examining? Are you filling a gap in previous research? Applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data? Resolving a dispute within the literature in your field? . . .
  • your research and/or analytical methods
  • your main findings , results , or arguments
  • the significance or implications of your findings or arguments.

Your abstract should be intelligible on its own, without a reader’s having to read your entire paper. And in an abstract, you usually do not cite references—most of your abstract will describe what you have studied in your research and what you have found and what you argue in your paper. In the body of your paper, you will cite the specific literature that informs your research.

When to Write Your Abstract

Although you might be tempted to write your abstract first because it will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s a good idea to wait to write your abstract until after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.

What follows are some sample abstracts in published papers or articles, all written by faculty at UW-Madison who come from a variety of disciplines. We have annotated these samples to help you see the work that these authors are doing within their abstracts.

Choosing Verb Tenses within Your Abstract

The social science sample (Sample 1) below uses the present tense to describe general facts and interpretations that have been and are currently true, including the prevailing explanation for the social phenomenon under study. That abstract also uses the present tense to describe the methods, the findings, the arguments, and the implications of the findings from their new research study. The authors use the past tense to describe previous research.

The humanities sample (Sample 2) below uses the past tense to describe completed events in the past (the texts created in the pulp fiction industry in the 1970s and 80s) and uses the present tense to describe what is happening in those texts, to explain the significance or meaning of those texts, and to describe the arguments presented in the article.

The science samples (Samples 3 and 4) below use the past tense to describe what previous research studies have done and the research the authors have conducted, the methods they have followed, and what they have found. In their rationale or justification for their research (what remains to be done), they use the present tense. They also use the present tense to introduce their study (in Sample 3, “Here we report . . .”) and to explain the significance of their study (In Sample 3, This reprogramming . . . “provides a scalable cell source for. . .”).

Sample Abstract 1

From the social sciences.

Reporting new findings about the reasons for increasing economic homogamy among spouses

Gonalons-Pons, Pilar, and Christine R. Schwartz. “Trends in Economic Homogamy: Changes in Assortative Mating or the Division of Labor in Marriage?” Demography , vol. 54, no. 3, 2017, pp. 985-1005.

“The growing economic resemblance of spouses has contributed to rising inequality by increasing the number of couples in which there are two high- or two low-earning partners. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the topic under study (the “economic resemblance of spouses”). This sentence also implies the question underlying this research study: what are the various causes—and the interrelationships among them—for this trend?] The dominant explanation for this trend is increased assortative mating. Previous research has primarily relied on cross-sectional data and thus has been unable to disentangle changes in assortative mating from changes in the division of spouses’ paid labor—a potentially key mechanism given the dramatic rise in wives’ labor supply. [Annotation for the previous two sentences: These next two sentences explain what previous research has demonstrated. By pointing out the limitations in the methods that were used in previous studies, they also provide a rationale for new research.] We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to decompose the increase in the correlation between spouses’ earnings and its contribution to inequality between 1970 and 2013 into parts due to (a) changes in assortative mating, and (b) changes in the division of paid labor. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The data, research and analytical methods used in this new study.] Contrary to what has often been assumed, the rise of economic homogamy and its contribution to inequality is largely attributable to changes in the division of paid labor rather than changes in sorting on earnings or earnings potential. Our findings indicate that the rise of economic homogamy cannot be explained by hypotheses centered on meeting and matching opportunities, and they show where in this process inequality is generated and where it is not.” (p. 985) [Annotation for the previous two sentences: The major findings from and implications and significance of this study.]

Sample Abstract 2

From the humanities.

Analyzing underground pulp fiction publications in Tanzania, this article makes an argument about the cultural significance of those publications

Emily Callaci. “Street Textuality: Socialism, Masculinity, and Urban Belonging in Tanzania’s Pulp Fiction Publishing Industry, 1975-1985.” Comparative Studies in Society and History , vol. 59, no. 1, 2017, pp. 183-210.

“From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, a network of young urban migrant men created an underground pulp fiction publishing industry in the city of Dar es Salaam. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence introduces the context for this research and announces the topic under study.] As texts that were produced in the underground economy of a city whose trajectory was increasingly charted outside of formalized planning and investment, these novellas reveal more than their narrative content alone. These texts were active components in the urban social worlds of the young men who produced them. They reveal a mode of urbanism otherwise obscured by narratives of decolonization, in which urban belonging was constituted less by national citizenship than by the construction of social networks, economic connections, and the crafting of reputations. This article argues that pulp fiction novellas of socialist era Dar es Salaam are artifacts of emergent forms of male sociability and mobility. In printing fictional stories about urban life on pilfered paper and ink, and distributing their texts through informal channels, these writers not only described urban communities, reputations, and networks, but also actually created them.” (p. 210) [Annotation for the previous sentences: The remaining sentences in this abstract interweave other essential information for an abstract for this article. The implied research questions: What do these texts mean? What is their historical and cultural significance, produced at this time, in this location, by these authors? The argument and the significance of this analysis in microcosm: these texts “reveal a mode or urbanism otherwise obscured . . .”; and “This article argues that pulp fiction novellas. . . .” This section also implies what previous historical research has obscured. And through the details in its argumentative claims, this section of the abstract implies the kinds of methods the author has used to interpret the novellas and the concepts under study (e.g., male sociability and mobility, urban communities, reputations, network. . . ).]

Sample Abstract/Summary 3

From the sciences.

Reporting a new method for reprogramming adult mouse fibroblasts into induced cardiac progenitor cells

Lalit, Pratik A., Max R. Salick, Daryl O. Nelson, Jayne M. Squirrell, Christina M. Shafer, Neel G. Patel, Imaan Saeed, Eric G. Schmuck, Yogananda S. Markandeya, Rachel Wong, Martin R. Lea, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Timothy A. Hacker, Wendy C. Crone, Michael Kyba, Daniel J. Garry, Ron Stewart, James A. Thomson, Karen M. Downs, Gary E. Lyons, and Timothy J. Kamp. “Lineage Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Proliferative Induced Cardiac Progenitor Cells by Defined Factors.” Cell Stem Cell , vol. 18, 2016, pp. 354-367.

“Several studies have reported reprogramming of fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocytes; however, reprogramming into proliferative induced cardiac progenitor cells (iCPCs) remains to be accomplished. [Annotation for the previous sentence: The first sentence announces the topic under study, summarizes what’s already known or been accomplished in previous research, and signals the rationale and goals are for the new research and the problem that the new research solves: How can researchers reprogram fibroblasts into iCPCs?] Here we report that a combination of 11 or 5 cardiac factors along with canonical Wnt and JAK/STAT signaling reprogrammed adult mouse cardiac, lung, and tail tip fibroblasts into iCPCs. The iCPCs were cardiac mesoderm-restricted progenitors that could be expanded extensively while maintaining multipo-tency to differentiate into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells in vitro. Moreover, iCPCs injected into the cardiac crescent of mouse embryos differentiated into cardiomyocytes. iCPCs transplanted into the post-myocardial infarction mouse heart improved survival and differentiated into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells. [Annotation for the previous four sentences: The methods the researchers developed to achieve their goal and a description of the results.] Lineage reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs provides a scalable cell source for drug discovery, disease modeling, and cardiac regenerative therapy.” (p. 354) [Annotation for the previous sentence: The significance or implications—for drug discovery, disease modeling, and therapy—of this reprogramming of adult somatic cells into iCPCs.]

Sample Abstract 4, a Structured Abstract

Reporting results about the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis, from a rigorously controlled study

Note: This journal requires authors to organize their abstract into four specific sections, with strict word limits. Because the headings for this structured abstract are self-explanatory, we have chosen not to add annotations to this sample abstract.

Wald, Ellen R., David Nash, and Jens Eickhoff. “Effectiveness of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Sinusitis in Children.” Pediatrics , vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9-15.

“OBJECTIVE: The role of antibiotic therapy in managing acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in children is controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of high-dose amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate in the treatment of children diagnosed with ABS.

METHODS : This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Children 1 to 10 years of age with a clinical presentation compatible with ABS were eligible for participation. Patients were stratified according to age (<6 or ≥6 years) and clinical severity and randomly assigned to receive either amoxicillin (90 mg/kg) with potassium clavulanate (6.4 mg/kg) or placebo. A symptom survey was performed on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30. Patients were examined on day 14. Children’s conditions were rated as cured, improved, or failed according to scoring rules.

RESULTS: Two thousand one hundred thirty-five children with respiratory complaints were screened for enrollment; 139 (6.5%) had ABS. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled, and 56 were randomly assigned. The mean age was 6630 months. Fifty (89%) patients presented with persistent symptoms, and 6 (11%) presented with nonpersistent symptoms. In 24 (43%) children, the illness was classified as mild, whereas in the remaining 32 (57%) children it was severe. Of the 28 children who received the antibiotic, 14 (50%) were cured, 4 (14%) were improved, 4(14%) experienced treatment failure, and 6 (21%) withdrew. Of the 28children who received placebo, 4 (14%) were cured, 5 (18%) improved, and 19 (68%) experienced treatment failure. Children receiving the antibiotic were more likely to be cured (50% vs 14%) and less likely to have treatment failure (14% vs 68%) than children receiving the placebo.

CONCLUSIONS : ABS is a common complication of viral upper respiratory infections. Amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate results in significantly more cures and fewer failures than placebo, according to parental report of time to resolution.” (9)

Some Excellent Advice about Writing Abstracts for Basic Science Research Papers, by Professor Adriano Aguzzi from the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich:

how to write an abstract for extended essay

Academic and Professional Writing

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Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

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The Extended Essay Step-by-Step Guide

how to write an abstract for extended essay

From setting the research question to submitting the Extended Essay, here is an easy-to-follow guide for IB EE students to follow, along with personal anecdotes with tips to apply critical thinking techniques and find success.

Before I started the IB, the thing I was most worried about was the extended essay. I’m pretty sure the reason why I was so worried is because I had no clue what writing it would actually entail.  In this week’s blog, I’ll be going over the basics of the extended essay so you don’t have to worried like I was!

What is an Extended Essay?

The extended essay (often called the EE) is a 4000-word structured essay on a topic of your choice which can take many different forms. Ultimately what your EE ends up looking like depends on the topic you choose.

Some students choose to write their extended essay about literature or history, which means they write a more traditional academic essay.

However, you can choose to conduct an experiment and write up the results if you want to focus on the sciences. Or you can try and solve an arithmetic problem if you are into maths. As long as it takes an academic format, it should be okay!

 What is Included in an Extended Essay?

There are several things that you have to include in your extended essay. As a side note, the requirements for the EE were changed quite drastically in 2016, so it’s important that when you look things up about the EE you are looking at the updated guidelines! You can find out more about this  here .

Based on these new guidelines your EE needs to contain:

  • A research question
  • A cover-page
  • A table of content
  • An introduction
  • A main body
  • A conclusion
  • A bibliography
  • 3 reflections from the beginning, middle and the end of the research process.

The Importance of The IB ee

The extended essay provides each student with the opportunity to investigate a topic of personal interest to them, which relates to either:

-One of the student’s six DP subjects, or

-the interdisciplinary approach of a World Studies extended essay.

Students gain the following skills by writing an extended essay:

-formulating an appropriate research question

-engaging in a personal exploration and critical analysis of the topic

-communicating ideas

-developing an argument

Essentially, the assessment criteria will evaluate the student based on their ability to research a subject, or in the case of the world study extended essay, the two disciplinary perspectives applied. In both examples, you are required to demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and application.

10 Steps to Writing an IB Extended Essay

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to write an extended essay, from research question to complete essay.

1. Define the Topic and Draft the Research Question

2. create a timeline, 3. research sources and expand knowledge about the topic, 4. set deadlines, 5. plan the structure according to the total word count, 6. evaluate your understanding, 7. primary and secondary research and theory, 8. write the extended essay draft to explain what you learnt, 9. analyze and edit, 10. present.

By following the steps above, you should be able to produce a logical and coherent rationale to follow when writing the extended essay for your IB diploma programme.

Can You Get Help for the IB Extended Essay?

Of course you do! In fact, you actually get a lot of help. Your school will assign you a ‘supervisor’. Your supervisor will be an IB teacher at your school and it is their responsibility to meet with you and discuss your research question, your planning and also your first draft.

What are the Next Steps?

In conclusion: your extended essay is typically something you write towards the end of your first year of IB so I wouldn’t worry too much about it right now. However, it’s likely you will have to choose your topic and research question sooner rather than later.

What I would recommend is to start thinking about what subject would interest you enough to write a mini thesis of 4,000 words on it.

Pro Tip: Find an example of an extended essay that is effective so you can see how they applied the tips above and explored their research question.

If you find lots of essays, this suggests to you that this is probably a good topic! If there isn’t very much, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, but you might want to change the focus a little to make it easier to conduct research and find enough data to work with.

Don’t let the task overwhelm you: the research and writing should be fun! Students who are truly interested in their topics will likely find the most success.

Get Support from a Tutor at Lanterna for the IB Diploma Programme

Lanterna has over 300 tutors who aced the Extended Essay for their courses. They are equipped with the knowledge and experience to help you get an A in your EE. What are you waiting for? Get your own tutor today and learn valuable insights sure to help you succeed.

For more details about your IB extended essay, be sure to check out our blog post with 100 topic ideas to get you started!

It explains how you can find your research topic, formulate a research question and explain it fully in accordance with the assessment criteria, and finally tips on how to write extended essays.

Read part 2: Choose Your Topic

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  • How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

Published on 1 March 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 10 October 2022 by Eoghan Ryan.

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a dissertation or research paper ). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:

  • Introduction

Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.

In a dissertation or thesis , include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

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Table of contents

Abstract example, when to write an abstract, step 1: introduction, step 2: methods, step 3: results, step 4: discussion, tips for writing an abstract, frequently asked questions about abstracts.

Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed.

This paper examines the role of silent movies as a mode of shared experience in the UK during the early twentieth century. At this time, high immigration rates resulted in a significant percentage of non-English-speaking citizens. These immigrants faced numerous economic and social obstacles, including exclusion from public entertainment and modes of discourse (newspapers, theater, radio).

Incorporating evidence from reviews, personal correspondence, and diaries, this study demonstrates that silent films were an affordable and inclusive source of entertainment. It argues for the accessible economic and representational nature of early cinema. These concerns are particularly evident in the low price of admission and in the democratic nature of the actors’ exaggerated gestures, which allowed the plots and action to be easily grasped by a diverse audience despite language barriers.

Keywords: silent movies, immigration, public discourse, entertainment, early cinema, language barriers.

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You will almost always have to include an abstract when:

  • Completing a thesis or dissertation
  • Submitting a research paper to an academic journal
  • Writing a book proposal
  • Applying for research grants

It’s easiest to write your abstract last, because it’s a summary of the work you’ve already done. Your abstract should:

  • Be a self-contained text, not an excerpt from your paper
  • Be fully understandable on its own
  • Reflect the structure of your larger work

Start by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer?

You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your topic, but don’t go into detailed background information. If your abstract uses specialised terms that would be unfamiliar to the average academic reader or that have various different meanings, give a concise definition.

After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like “investigate,” “test,” “analyse,” or “evaluate” to describe exactly what you set out to do.

This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense  but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.

  • This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.

Next, indicate the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a straightforward description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense, as it refers to completed actions.

  • Structured interviews will be conducted with 25 participants.
  • Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants.

Don’t evaluate validity or obstacles here — the goal is not to give an account of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used.

Next, summarise the main research results . This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense.

  • Our analysis has shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis shows a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis showed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.

Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.

Finally, you should discuss the main conclusions of your research : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense.

  • We concluded that coffee consumption increases productivity.
  • We conclude that coffee consumption increases productivity.

If there are important limitations to your research (for example, related to your sample size or methods), you should mention them briefly in the abstract. This allows the reader to accurately assess the credibility and generalisability of your research.

If your aim was to solve a practical problem, your discussion might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.

If your paper will be published, you might have to add a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. These keywords should reference the most important elements of the research to help potential readers find your paper during their own literature searches.

Be aware that some publication manuals, such as APA Style , have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.

It can be a real challenge to condense your whole work into just a couple of hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) part that people read, so it’s important to get it right. These strategies can help you get started.

Read other abstracts

The best way to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your discipline is to read other people’s. You probably already read lots of journal article abstracts while conducting your literature review —try using them as a framework for structure and style.

You can also find lots of dissertation abstract examples in thesis and dissertation databases .

Reverse outline

Not all abstracts will contain precisely the same elements. For longer works, you can write your abstract through a process of reverse outlining.

For each chapter or section, list keywords and draft one to two sentences that summarise the central point or argument. This will give you a framework of your abstract’s structure. Next, revise the sentences to make connections and show how the argument develops.

Write clearly and concisely

A good abstract is short but impactful, so make sure every word counts. Each sentence should clearly communicate one main point.

To keep your abstract or summary short and clear:

  • Avoid passive sentences: Passive constructions are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them shorter and clearer by using the active voice.
  • Avoid long sentences: Substitute longer expressions for concise expressions or single words (e.g., “In order to” for “To”).
  • Avoid obscure jargon: The abstract should be understandable to readers who are not familiar with your topic.
  • Avoid repetition and filler words: Replace nouns with pronouns when possible and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Avoid detailed descriptions: An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions, background information, or discussions of other scholars’ work. Instead, include this information in the body of your thesis or paper.

If you’re struggling to edit down to the required length, you can get help from expert editors with Scribbr’s professional proofreading services .

Check your formatting

If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting requirements for the abstract—make sure to check the guidelines and format your work correctly. For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format .

Checklist: Abstract

The word count is within the required length, or a maximum of one page.

The abstract appears after the title page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents .

I have clearly stated my research problem and objectives.

I have briefly described my methodology .

I have summarized the most important results .

I have stated my main conclusions .

I have mentioned any important limitations and recommendations.

The abstract can be understood by someone without prior knowledge of the topic.

You've written a great abstract! Use the other checklists to continue improving your thesis or dissertation.

An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:

  • To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
  • To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.

Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarises the contents of your paper.

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 150–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.

The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis or paper.

Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:

  • The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
  • The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.

There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.

The abstract appears on its own page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

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What Is An Extended Essay & How to Write It?

Read this article for 5 tips to ace your IB Extended Essay. this article shows IB students how to write an Extended Essay for IB Diploma.

What Is An Extended Essay & How to Write It?

Table of content

Introduction , what is ib extended essay, choosing your mentor, how to select your topic, the structure of ib extended essay, research question, table of contents, methodology, the main body, the conclusion, bibliography, ib extended essay checklist.

Introduce and elaborate topic that you are researching in your EE.

  • A crisp description of what you will explore and how you will do so. If you are aiming at a particular firm/industry, discuss the problems and your investigation method.
  • To provide context to your question, you must address the situation from where the question is coming.
  • State your research question and emphasize the importance of answering that question.
  • Please describe how your research is helpful and exciting and how it is valuable to your audience.

This article will reveal helpful information on what your IB Extended Essay (EE) requires. Consider this your IB Extended Essay Checklist, which covers everything you must know about your EE.

Hey! Make sure you listen to Ivy, who will explain what NOT to do on your EE.

These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb!

Understand that no warrior ever conquered the battlefield with an unhinged mind. We say this because, being past IB students, we have seen and faced what we are about to and have a good knowledge and acquired the ability to differentiate between more enormous beasts and smaller beasts.

IB Extended Essay  is a smaller beast considering that you give it enough time before it becomes more prominent. All you need to do is relax your mind, de-stress and follow a simple procedure explained further in the article. There is no need to panic. Trust us, listen to us, and be like us!

Moving ahead from punny insertions, let us tell you why the IB extended essay can be an easy and exciting mountain to climb:

  • Subject of your choice (Good practice to choose from your HLs)
  • Independence of choosing a topic  
  • Choice of choosing your mentor
  • Continuous feedback and support from your chosen mentor.

IB extended essay (IB EE) is another one of the mandatory requirements of the IB Diploma Programme. It is a mini-thesis that you write under the supervision of a mentor/advisor. Your mentor will be an IB teacher from your school. The students must conduct independent research on a topic of their choice, which must be at most the limit of 4000 words. You begin by choosing a research question as a topic that will be further approved by IBO. It is up to you to either do a typical research paper, conduct an experiment/solve a problem-type EE.

I can write too many paragraphs giving you unnecessary information but let’s cut to the chase and admit the heart wants what it wants. You will go with an advisor/mentor with whom you will connect the most. However, suppose your judgment is clouded between the advisor you want to choose solely because you click with them better and the mentor who is knowledgeable about your chosen topic and can help you improve your research work. In that case, the choice is pretty straightforward: listen to your brain. Get rid of your toxic love and make a wise decision to choose a knowledgeable mentor. If you are lucky, the mentor you connect with and the one with ample knowledge about your chosen topic will be the same person. On that note, consider only two things while choosing your advisor:

  • An advisor who is familiar with your topic 
  • An advisor who will push you to be your best

Before diving into the topic selection and the structure of your IB extended essay, refer to this table to get an insight into the grade breakdown table. This will be helpful in your planning phase.

Moving ahead towards essential aspects of this article. After choosing your mentor, the next step for ‘how to write an EE’ is choosing a topic with the help of your mentor’s input. It is as essential as our  TOK Essay  and  TOK presentation .

Keep the following in mind while selecting your topic:

  • Choose a topic that interests you.
  • A topic that has enough resources and material.
  • Choose a topic that is neither too narrow (so you have enough material) nor too broad (to avoid exceeding the word limit of 4000 words)

Before we dive into the structure, let us make one thing clear, there is a difference between the title and the research question. A title is different from your research question. Your research question is a clear and focused summative statement of your research. For instance, “The Effect of Gender and Age on the photoreceptor cells in the human retina” is a title whereas the following as the examples of research questions:

“Does the efficiency of Rods and cones decrease with age?

“What is the efficiency of L-cone vs M-cone vs S-cone?“

“To what extent are rod cells more efficient than the three cone cells?”

“Does the efficieny of rods and cones differ between genders?”

This will include the following:

  • Introduction

Quick Note: The content on this page will not be included in your essay word count.

NO ABSTRACT REQUIRED. The latest IB guide states that an abstract should not be included in EE anymore.

You should split this section into two major areas to cover all the essential aspects.

  • Section - 1 Explaining your sources
  • Section - 2 Related topics, theories, and arguments that you will use to explore

Quick Note: Ensure that besides giving the readers an insight into the theories, arguments, and resources you plan to use for your research, you also point out the weaknesses and limitations.

Section- 1: Sources

  • Describe each of your major sources of primary and secondary research.
  • Inform the readers how these sources are helpful.
  • To provide the readers with insight into each source's weaknesses or limitations. For example, there may have been room for bias or a limited scope of your research. Or there are other reasons why other data you used could be unreliable or invalid.
  • Some useful sources of secondary research are company annual reports, news articles, magazine articles, business textbooks, and encyclopedias.
  • Mention any adjustments (at least one) you made to your research as you progressed with your EE.

Section- 2: Related topics, theories, and arguments

  • Briefly explain the ideas you will use and why (what are you aiming to support by using these).
  • Address weaknesses or limitations of each addressed topic, theory, or related argument.
  • Mention any changes made to these as you progressed with your EE.

This part of your essay will be the most elaborate. It will concentrate on research, analysis, discussion, and evaluation.

To maintain the flow of your previous section, we suggest splitting this section into two parts, identical to the previous bifurcation, to showcase your understanding of the IB concepts learned in your business management class and the other addressing the insightful material outside of your course.

Section-1: Related arguments, theories, and topics form your course learning

  • Include 4 or 5 of these to help you answer your research question.
  • It is suggested that you include at least one financial element. Address your qualitative tools before the quantitative ones.

Section- 2: Beyond your Course

Take up this section as an opportunity for you to educate your reader/evaluator.

  • Review several related theories and concepts more extensively than the course does.
  • Impress your reader by giving the sense that you know how the particular industry works. Showcase your expertise or knowledge gained through expert opinions in several aspects of your question.
  • Please add some analytical insight in this section rather than just descriptive. Be careful to ensure that all of your theories in this section are really helping you answer your research question.
  • You can use a graph here, but it must link to the research question.
  • Use theories and supportive arguments that apply to your research and are beyond your course (if relevant).

Quick Note: Relate every paragraph to your research question.

This section is self-explanatory. It is time to bind all your areas together.

  • It would help if you concentrated on making your EE sections cohesive.
  • Please address what you have researched and how it helps answer your research question.
  • Keep everything new in your conclusion.
  • Shine through by including mini-conclusions to synthesize your essay.
  • You can include several evaluative insights as well, if applicable.
  • Mention some weaknesses and limitations of your research and their effect on your research. You can even address the inaccuracies these limitations may have caused and state the reason behind them.
  • Explain at least one thing that you would have done differently if you were to do it again.

Quick Note: Don’t include a recommendations section in your EE

This section gives the reader an insight into your research resources. It may include:

  • Books –textbooks, internet resources, journals, academic papers, competitor interviews, etc.
  • Primary Resource (if applicable) –Interview, data (focus group, survey, etc.).

Quick note: The content on this page will not be included in your essay word count.

Take this section as more of an essential formality of showcasing the process of hard work that you have put in.

  • Transcripts from your interviews,
  • The additional analysis you didn't fit in the body of your EE.
  • Any other exciting data which you would like to refer to in the body of your work.

With this, we come to the end of our article on what is an IB extended essay and how to write an extended essay. As we mentioned earlier, it is relatively easy. All you need is dedication, set timelines, and proper research. So, don't worry; no rabbits can pull out your hat today. If you want to score a 36 on 36 your Extended Essay, check out our  Extended Essay Guide , which offers '5 never heard before' tips to help you write a quality essay.

Make an IB Extended Essay Checklist! I cannot emphasize enough on this point. The submission for your EE happens simultaneously when you are expected to take your exams. There will be a million things that you would have to keep track of. There is a high chance of forgetting to make that final edit or perfecting your EE's introduction in the midst of it all. Therefore, an IB Extended Essay Checklist will ensure you do everything. IB Extended Essay Checklist will be your savior during the final submission days.

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Writing an abstract - a six point checklist (with samples)

Posted in: abstract , dissertations

how to write an abstract for extended essay

The abstract is a vital part of any research paper. It is the shop front for your work, and the first stop for your reader. It should provide a clear and succinct summary of your study, and encourage your readers to read more. An effective abstract, therefore should answer the following questions:

  • Why did you do this study or project?
  • What did you do and how?
  • What did you find?
  • What do your findings mean?

So here's our run down of the key elements of a well-written abstract.

  • Size - A succinct and well written abstract should be between approximately 100- 250 words.
  • Background - An effective abstract usually includes some scene-setting information which might include what is already known about the subject, related to the paper in question (a few short sentences).
  • Purpose  - The abstract should also set out the purpose of your research, in other words, what is not known about the subject and hence what the study intended to examine (or what the paper seeks to present).
  • Methods - The methods section should contain enough information to enable the reader to understand what was done, and how. It should include brief details of the research design, sample size, duration of study, and so on.
  • Results - The results section is the most important part of the abstract. This is because readers who skim an abstract do so to learn about the findings of the study. The results section should therefore contain as much detail about the findings as the journal word count permits.
  • Conclusion - This section should contain the most important take-home message of the study, expressed in a few precisely worded sentences. Usually, the finding highlighted here relates to the primary outcomes of the study. However, other important or unexpected findings should also be mentioned. It is also customary, but not essential, to express an opinion about the theoretical or practical implications of the findings, or the importance of their findings for the field. Thus, the conclusions may contain three elements:
  • The primary take-home message.
  • Any additional findings of importance.
  • Implications for future studies.

abstract 1

Example Abstract 2: Engineering Development and validation of a three-dimensional finite element model of the pelvic bone.


Abstract from: Dalstra, M., Huiskes, R. and Van Erning, L., 1995. Development and validation of a three-dimensional finite element model of the pelvic bone. Journal of biomechanical engineering, 117(3), pp.272-278.

And finally...  A word on abstract types and styles

Abstract types can differ according to subject discipline. You need to determine therefore which type of abstract you should include with your paper. Here are two of the most common types with examples.

Informative Abstract

The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.

Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgements about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarised. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less.

Adapted from Andrade C. How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation. Indian J Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;53(2):172-5. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.82558. PMID: 21772657; PMCID: PMC3136027 .

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