Extended Essay

Extended Essay Guide for IB Students

The Extended Essay is a great opportunity for you to develop and hone research skills that you will use throughout your life. This guide reflects the idea that all good research begins with a good question, and that good research is conducted with an attitude of critical curiosity, ending in a product that is a satisfying, interesting blend of reliable sources and original thought.

Question Building


Once you have chosen your general area of study, do some background reading to begin developing your topic. Browse Wikipedia or other encyclopedias, skim books in the Dewey section related to your topic, even watch a documentary or two. As you explore, keep a file or notebook of key terms that you can return to for your next steps. Don’t forget, as casual as this exploration may be, you should still keep track of your sources. Keep a running works cited list in your files, and make sure that each page of notes has the source listed. This will save you time and energy in the long run.

Developing your Research Question

Your Research Question is a really load-bearing component of your Extended Essay. Not only does it provide you with direction for your research and a framework for your essay, but the question itself is a factor for evaluation in the final product. So take your time, follow the steps outlined on the next page, and evaluate the question by these criteria. Is the question…

Clear: Will the reader understand the nature of my research? Will it direct the research being undertaken?

Focused: Will the research question be specific enough to allow for exploration within the scope of the task (that is, the number of words and time available)?

Arguable: Does the research question allow for analysis, evaluation and the development of a reasoned argument?

For a template to help you develop your question, check out this source: https://hfhs-hf233.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=45151536

(Criteria from Extended Essay guide at https://libguides.monroe2boces.org/c.php?g= 890513&p=6402769)

Finding Good Sources

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? -Albert Einstein

Digital resources can be accessed through this website. Click on Online Resources to get to the TDSB Virtual Library.

Click FIND and select Grade 9-12 and your subject area to find databases, ebooks and websites of high academic calibre. Click CATALOGUE to search books, ebooks and videos on your topic.

You should also explore databases at the Toronto Public Library. You will need a library card to access resources.



Is an author listed? What are the author’s credentials?

Has the author taken care to check for misspelling, poor grammar, etc.?


Is the date of the site current?

Is the information complete and not too vague?


Is the author fair and objective?

Is the author concerned with the truth?


Does the author provide support for the information?

Are the sources listed?

Are there other resources with similar information?

(from Evaluating Internet Research Sources by Robert Harris)

As your research progresses and your focus narrows, you may need to plan for primary research. This video will help you: