The research process

Also, see the IBO web page:

Example extended essay research questions

Source: P. Hoang & C. Taylor. Extended Essay. Hodder Education, 2017.

IBO Subject Guides for Extended Essays

Below are links to the IBO’s guidelines for extended essays in each subject area:

Academic honesty: Crediting your sources

Academic honesty entails giving credit to the sources you used to support a project or written work.


A citation tells your readers where you got the information you used in your paper, project, or presentation.

Why cite your sources:

  • Citing your sources makes your paper look stronger, more scholarly, and more reliable.
  • Citations give credit to the original author of the quotation or the idea.
  • Citations allow your readers to find the resources you used in your research.

When to cite your sources:

  • When you include the exact words or paraphrase the words of another author.
  • When you use or summarize the ideas or work of another author.

How to cite your sources:

  • There are several styles used to cite sources. They all do the same thing. The difference is in the formatting (where to put the italics, parentheses, quotation marks, abbreviations, etc.).
  • Some common citation styles are Harvard, MLA, and APA. Different teachers and various professions require a particular citation style.

Citing sources “in text”

If you quote or paraphrase the work of another author, you should cite that author within your project, presentation, or paper. This is known as an “in text” citation. See “Citation Styles” for examples and more help.

Reference lists, Works Cited lists, and Bibliographies

You should provide your readers with details regarding the resources in which you found your information. Include all available important elements for print and electronic books, journals, images, artworks, videos, etc. (Author, title, date, url, publisher, publication date, page, etc.)

  • Reference list or a Works Cited list includes only works that you cited in your paper.
  • Bibliography includes all the sources you read to prepare for your paper. [Confusingly, the IBO requires a “Bibliography” in the Extended Essay. But you must include only the works cited in your paper (see Criteria A & D).]

Your Reference list, Works Cited list, or Bibliography should be in alphabetical order. See “Citation Styles” for examples and more help.

Footnotes and Endnotes

  • Footnotes and Endnotes use superscripted numbers1 to refer the reader to information contained elsewhere in the paper.
  • Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page. Endnotes appear at the end of the paper.
  • There are two main types of Footnotes or Endnotes:
  1. Citations cite the source of the information referred to in the paper.

                      1 Dav Pilkey, The Adventures of Captain Underpants (New York, NY: Scholastic, 1997), p, 61.

  1. Explanatory Notes provide supplemental information to the reader.

                      1 See Pilkey, especially Chapters 4 and 5, for an insightful analysis of Mr. Krupp’s transition.

  • The APA and MLA citation styles do not use footnotes for citations. Instead, parenthetical references and a “References” or “Works Cited” list are used.
  • The APA and MLA citation styles do not recommend the use of explanatory notes.
  • The Harvard citation style uses footnotes for citations and explanatory notes.
  • For examples of citations in each of the major styles, see “Citation Styles.”

Word Count

The upper limit is 4,000 words. Examiners are instructed not to read or assess any material in excess of the word limit. See the table below to see what is included in the word count:


Automatic citation generators

You may use an automatic citation/reference generator, such as EasyBib, CiteThisForMe, or Microsoft Word References. However, be aware that these tools are not always reliable, are not updated according to new rules, and do not necessarily reflect the criteria specified by the IBO. For more help with creating correct citations, see “Citation Styles.”

cite this for me

CiteThisForMe: Automatically create bibliographies, citations, and works cited lists in the correct format using the APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver, or Harvard referencing styles.


EasyBib: Automatic citation and bibliography formatting.

Help sheets

Download these PDFs of Year group lessons.

Year 12: Searching the library website, EB, JSTOR, Google

Yr 12: Research process

Extended Essay School Guide for Students 2018

Spotting fake news

Don’t be fooled! Think critically about the news you read.

fake news

Evaluating online resources

Use the CARS checklist to evaluate internet resources:

  • Credibility
  • Accuracy
  • Reasonableness
  • Support

Opensources: A list of news sources categorized by type (fake, satire, bias, junk science, political, credible, etc.). Curated by professional librarians.

Using Wikipedia wisely

  • Wikipedia is a good resource for general information and for hyperlinks to more in-depth resources.
  • Usually, research requires additional resources. Try the school library’s collection or some of the free internet resources on this website.
  • Double check the accuracy of Wikipedia information by locating the same information in at least one other reliable resource.

Google Scholar search

Google search techniques

Boolean operators