Am I ready to start writing my essay?
Before you start writing, think:
You should use the Oakham APAv3 Academic Writing Template (below) rather than a generic Word template to set up your essay. Further guidance will be given in EE Seminar 3.
The document below is a model of how to lay out an Extended Essay, with notes to explain how it meets the formal requirements.
Oakham School's 'house' referencing style is APA (version 6), which is an 'Author-date' style. Although the IB do not dictate which referencing style you should use, you are required to use a recognised style. We strongly recommend that you stick to APA as Library staff are unable to support you in citing and referencing accurately if you choose to use a different style. We do not support the use of footnote referencing styles.
The only deviation from this style is that the IB require you to add the "date accessed" for websites to show when you viewed the site (because information on websites can change). You can do this in Word by checking the "Show All Bibliography Fields" box when you add or edit a source and scrolling down to "Year/Month/Day Accessed"
For general guidance on using Word to manage your citations and references, see the guides to the right.
For detailed information and guidance on how to use sources in your writing and how to cite and reference them accurately using the tools in Microsoft Word, consult the Citing and Referencing LibGuide. Note that this site includes IB specific guidance, such as how the IB require you to reference websites and interviews (which is slightly different to standard APA referencing) and what to do if you are using a source written in a language that is not the language of your essay.
Stages in an academic essay
Your thesis is the point you want to make. It emerges from your research and your task is to use the evidence you have found to establish it as the most reasonable response to that research.
|A persuasive (or argumentative) approach proceeds from the answer to the research question through a detailed analysis of the arguments surrounding the research question — their claims, their evidence, and their assumptions.||
An analytical approach arrives at the answer to the research question after a detailed analysis of the arguments surrounding the research question — their claims, their evidence, and their assumptions.
e.g. Should smoking be illegal?
After stating the research question, this starts with a defendable position - the thesis - which is then supported by arguments that persuade the reader of your point of view. Using evidence you are defending your thesis in the essay.
e.g. What conditions produce the highest yield of salicylic acid during hydrolysis?
This starts with a research question, which is then answered by your thesis in the conclusion of the essay. Your essay presents the evidence that shows how you have arrived at your conclusion.
In both approaches, you must state the research question in your introduction, and follow your Subject-specific guidelines carefully.
Sections required in your essay
Note: the rule changes for 2018 onwards state that an Abstract is no longer required. Given the strict word limit, examiners reports state that you SHOULD NOT INCLUDE AN ABSTRACT as it would now be included in the word limit and this reduces the number of words you have left to make your case.
Paragraphs themselves have a structure - the most common you will have come across is likely to be PEEL. The letters often stand for slightly different things in different subjects, but the idea is largely the same - introduce your main idea for the paragraph (Point), justify it with Evidence and/or Examples, and Evaluate this evidence. Finally, Link back to the Research Question and/or Link forward to the next paragraph.
This is not the only way to write a paragraph and, with experience, you will soon find that your argument develops a flow of its own that does not require a formula - indeed, your essay would be very dull if every paragraph followed exactly the same structure. However, this structure can be a useful scaffold to get you started and make sure you don't miss anything important.
The structure of academic writing
Planning your essay
It is vital to plan your essay before you start writing. An essay plan provides an outline of your argument and how it develops.
Reread your EE Subject Guide. What MUST your essay include? Make a checklist to refer to throughout your essay.
What sections and subsections do you need?
Although this might change as you write your essay, you should not start writing until you have your overall structure. Then think about roughly how you are going to divide your word 4000 words between the different sections. 4000 words seems like a lot before you start writing, but it is much easier to write to the limit, section by section, than to try to cut your essay down once it is written.
What will the reader will expect to see and where?
Look back at your checklist and think about where in your essay you are planning to include the required information. Make sure the flow of your essay makes sense to a reader who may be a subject expert but knows little about your topic. Have you included background information? Details of experimental methods? Arguments and counter arguments?
Now get writing!
You've read all the guidance. You've made your plan. Now you have a blank screen in front of you and you just need to get started! Start with the section you think you will find easiest to write and work outwards from there, or follow the steps below to get started. Don't forget to write with the word limit in mind though.
ReWriting: It's just not working!!
What if you are writing lots of paragraphs but your essay just doesn't seem to be coming together?
1. Condense each paragraph into a short statement or bullet point. This is the skeleton structure of your essay.
2. Look at the order of the statements.
3. Add, subtract and rearrange the paragraphs until your structure makes sense.
4. Redraft using your new paragraph order.
Willard, D. (2003) My journey to and beyond tenure in a secular university. Retrieved from: www.dwillard.org/articles/individual/my-journey-to-and-beyond-tenure-in-a-secular-university. Accessed: 9th May 2020
Oh no! It's too long!!
If you haven't managed to write to the word limit and are suddenly faced with cutting down an essay that is over the word limit, try these tips on concise writing from Purdue Online Writing Lab.
Use the menu on the left of this page from Purdue OWL to browse the four very practical pages on writing concisely and one on the Paramedic Method for reducing your word count.
Your essay MUST have:
It is also suggested that:
You essay must have at most 4000 words. While there is no set penalty for exceeding this, examiners will stop reading at 4000 words, so may not, for example, read your conclusions and your mar is likely to suffer siginficantly. The following table summarises what is and is not included in the word count:
Note: The Guide states explicitly in several places that text in tables should be brief and tables should not be used to get around word limits. If the examiner feels you have put too much text into tables, then they will include it in your word count.
Illustrations (anything that isn't just text)
Footnotes and endnotes
Since examiners will not read appendices, the IB suggests they should NOT be used, except in the following cases:
External sources and specimen materials
Examiners will not access any external resources (e.g. hyperlinks or DVDs), and you may not submit any specimen materials made during the EE (although you may include clearly labelled photographs of these in your EE).
Normal term-time Library opening hours:
If you have any comments, corrections or additions for this guide, or if you are having trouble accessing any of the materials, please contact Mrs Toerien. Please include the URL of the LibGuide you are referring to in your email.