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Extended Essay: Advice (and Warnings) from the IB

A guide to the research and writing process required for students completing the IB Extended Essay.

Advice from the IB on Referencing and Citations

Documentation Checklist

Use this checklist from IB to make sure you've done a complete job of referencing all the sources in your EE.

Documentation Checklist

When you have used an author’s exact words, have you put “quotation marks” around the quotation and named (cited) the original writer?

(If you indent your quotation(s), quotation marks are not needed, but the author must still be cited; have you cited your indented quotations?)

When you put someone else’s thoughts and ideas in your own words, have you still named (cited) the original author(s)?  
When you use someone else’s words or work, is it clear where such use starts—and where it finishes?  
Have you included full references for all borrowed images, tables, graphs, maps, and so on?  
Print material: Have you included the page number(s) of print material you have used (especially important with exact quotations)?  
Internet material: Have you included both the date on which the material was posted and the date of your last visit to the web page or site?  
Internet material: Have you included the URL or the DOI?  With regard to electronic sources, the requirement of the IB for date stamping supersedes the requirements of the student's chosen referencing system.  

For each citation in the text, is there a full reference in your list of references (works cited/bibliography) at the end?

Is the citation a direct link to the first word(s) of the reference?


For each reference in the list of references (works cited/bibliography) at the end, is there a citation in the text?

Do(es) the first word(s) of the reference link directly to the citation as used?

Is your list of references (works cited/bibliography) in alphabetical order, with the last name of the author first?  

'Acknowledging the Work of Another Person' from IB Extended Essay Guide

Students must acknowledge all sources used in work submitted to IB for assessment.  

Diploma Programme students submit work for assessment in a variety of media that may include audio-visual material, text, graphs, images and/or data published in print or electronic sources.  If students use the work or ideas of another person, they must acknowledge the source using a standard style of referencing in a consistent manner.  A student's failure to acknowledge a source will be investigated by the IB as a potential breach of regulations that may result in a penalty imposed by the IB final award committee.

The IB does not proscribe which style(s) of referencing or in-text citation should be used by students; this is left to the discretion of appropriate faculty/staff in the student's school.  In practice, certain styles may prove most commonly used, but schools are free to choose a style that is appropriate for the subject concerned and the language in which students' work is written.

The following criteria must be applied:

  • Students are expected to use a standard style and use it consistently so that credit is given to all sources used, including sources that have been paraphrased or summarized.
  • When writing, students must clearly distinguish (in the body of the text) between their words and those of others by the use of quotation marks (or other method like indentation) followed by an appropriate citation that denotes an entry in the bibliography.
  • Students are not expected to show faultless expertise in referencing, but are expected to demonstrate that all sources have been acknowledged.
  • Students must be advised that any audio-visual material, text, graphs, images and/or data that is crucial to their work and that is not their own must also attribute the source.  Again, an appropriate style of referencing/citation must be used.
  • Regardless of the reference style adopted by the school for a given subject, it is expected that the minimum information given includes:
    • name of author
    • date of publication
    • title of source
    • page numbers as applicable
    • date of access (electronic sources)
    • URL

Adapted from "Introduction; Academic honesty, Acknowledge the work or ideas of another person", from Extended Essay Guide, International Baccalaureate Organization, 2016.

Referencing Online Materials

References to online materials should include the title of the extract used as well as the website address, the date it was accessed and, if possible, the author.

With regard to electronic sources, the requirement of the IB for date stamping supersedes the requirements of the chosen referencing system.

In other words, all electronic sources must be date stamped by including the date the student accessed the resource (for example, accessed 12 March 2016). Caution should be exercised with information found on websites that do not give references or that cannot be cross-checked against other sources. The more important a particular point is to the essay, the more the quality of its source needs to be evaluated.

Caution on Using Footnotes and Endnotes

IB has a caution for students using footnotes and/or endnotes in their Extended Essays:

Shark warning sign - Britannica ImageQuest

Footnotes and endnotes may be used for referencing purposes and if this is the case will not be included in the word count of the essay.

If information is contained in a footnote or endnote and is not a reference, this must be included in the word count.

In order to avoid confusion and unwittingly exceed the word limit, students are advised to avoid using footnotes or endnotes other than for referencing purposes unless it is appropriate.

As footnotes and endnotes are not an essential part of the extended essay students must take care to ensure that all information with direct relevance to the analysis, discussion and evaluation of their essay is contained in the main body of it.

An essay that attempts to evade the word limit by including important material in footnotes or endnotes will be compromised across the assessment criteria. Please note that footnotes and endnotes are added to the word count as they are encountered.

Extended Essay Guide, International Baccalaureate Organization, p. 86, 2016.

IB Publications

For information on academic honesty in the IB Diploma Programme, see these IB publications:


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