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Extended Essay: Step 8. Decide on a Citation Style

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

Why do I need to reference everything?

You MUST reference all the resources and ideas that you use in order to avoid plagiarism.  You should use your chosen style of referencing (Chicago or MLA) as soon as you start writing.  That way you are less likely to forget a citation.  It is also easier than trying to add references at a later stage of working on your extended essay.

Royal Automobile Club patrol woman giving directions, 1962 - Britannica ImageQuestIt is very important to reference ALL your sources because it answers these questions from your reader:

Where did you find your information?

What kind of source is it?

Where can I find the source myself?

What range of sources did you use?

On this page:

Definitions: Bibliography, Citations, Referencing
Referencing Online Materials
Get help from NoodleTools!
Demystifying Citing and Referencing tutorial

See other pages in this section for help with:

Create an Annotated Bibliography
Advice (and Warnings) from the IB
Chicago Citation Style
MLA Works Cited and In-Text Citations

Definitions: Bibliography, Citations, Referencing


A bibliography is an alphabetical list of every source used to research and write the essay. Sources that are not cited in the body of the essay but were important in informing the approach taken should be cited in the introduction or in an acknowledgment. The bibliography must list only those sources cited.


A citation is a shorthand method of making a reference in the body of an essay, either as an in-text citation or footnote/endnote. This must then be linked to the full reference at the end of the essay in the bibliography. A citation provides the reader with accurate references so that he or she can locate the source easily. How sources are cited varies with the particular referencing style that has been chosen. It is important to emphasize that there must be consistency of method when citing sources.


Sir James Murray (1837-1915) with his staff compiling the New English dictionary (later the Oxford English Dictionary) - Britannica ImageQuestA reference is a way of indicating to the reader, in an orderly form, where information has been obtained. A reference provides all the information needed to find the source material. References must be cited because:

  • they acknowledge the sources used
  • they enable the reader to consult the work and verify the data that has been presented. 

References must be given whenever someone else’s work is quoted or summarized. References can come from many different sources, including books, magazines, journals, newspapers, emails, internet sites and interviews. 

There are a number of different styles available for use when writing research papers; whatever style is chosen, it must be applied consistently and in line with the IB’s minimum requirements. The style should be applied in both the final draft of the essay and in the initial research stages of taking notes. This is good practice, not only for producing a high-quality final product, but also for reducing the opportunities and temptation to plagiarize. 

The IB’s minimum requirements include:

  • name of author
  • date of publication
  • title of source
  • page numbers (print sources only)
  • date of access (electronic sources only)
  • URL.

Any references to interviews should state the name of the interviewer, the name of the interviewee, the date and the place of the interview. 

For more detailed information on styles for citations and referencing please refer to:

Twelve-step Plan for Researching the Extended Essay - Step 8

8.  Identify which system of academic referencing you will use, ensuring that it meets the minimum requirements for the IB.

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.

NoodleTools Links

Use NoodleTools for your citations!

Demystifying Citing and Referencing

Demystifying Citing and Referencing

This tutorial from Monash University Library, in Melbourne, Australia, can help you learn the principles of citing and referencing, and understand how to avoid plagiarizing when integrating source material into your research paper.

The tutorial takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.


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