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Extended Essay: Writing Your Essay

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

The Research Process

Woodcut of scribes at work - Britannica ImageQuestAfter the research it's time to start writing!


The IB expects you to work with your information sources effectively to extract and record the most useful information and produce your own original piece of work.  See the page in this section on: 

Formal vs. Informal Writing (or, How to Avoid Colloquial Writing)
Learn from the Work of Others

Quotations, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

A quotation is a piece taken from another piece of work, exactly as it was originally written.

Paraphrasing involves taking a piece of writing and re-writing it in your own words.  

Summarizing involves using your own words to re-write the main idea(s) of someone else's work. A summary will be significantly shorter than the original piece and will be a broad overview of it's content.

Quotations and paraphrased or summarized material must always include a citation and reference to the original source.  See the OWL Center website page Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing, the guide, Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting from Sources, from the Eastern Illinois University Writing Center, and the IB document, Effective Citatons and Referencing, for more information. (Links are below.)

Person writing a list - Brittanica ImageQuestTips for summarizing a piece of writing:

  • Scan the text and make notes on paper. Read closely to absorb the author’s tone and central ideas, and then comb back through to clarify points.
  • Outline the main idea of each section in your own words. Include only meaningful details and proofs, organizing them from most to least important.
  • Develop your thesis, summarizing the main points of the piece. Be sure to include the author’s name and the title of the work right away.  Tip:  Avoid using your own opinions or interpretations, no matter how familiar the subject may be.
  • Arrange the information to clearly support the author's points, adding details to each section. Improve the flow of ideas with transitions that connect sections.
  • Be sure that sources are cited properly. Paraphrase and don’t use the author’s words if you can help it. Make sure you haven’t wandered off topic. Tip: Ask who, what, why, when, where, and how questions to be sure you have represented the author’s work faithfully.
  • Make final corrections, looking at your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Dignify your work and that of your subject’s with the care good scholarship demands.
  • Ask for criticism - try asking a hyper-critical friend to read your work. Be receptive and not over-sensitive – if they can’t identify your main points, you need to revise.

Steps for Revising Your Paper

Required Elements of the Extended Essay



Watch this video from the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching at Iowa State University for an introduction to how you can use Evernote to organize your research.

Culver, Dennis. Introduction to Evernote. YouTube. Center for Technology in 
     Learning and Teaching, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Aug. 2015. 


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