Research Tips


The research process

Example extended essay research questions

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

Academic honesty: Crediting your sources

Works cited lists, in text citationsreferencesfootnotes, and bibliographies give credit to the sources used in 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. If your teacher requires a particular citation style, please see “Helpful websites” below.

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. Below is an example of an in text citation using MLA citation style:

George and Harold were stunned to see “a pudgy old guy in his underwear with a red cape flowing behind him” (Pilkey 61).

  • Pilkey is the surname of the author
  • 61 is the page on which the quotation can be found

Reference list

At the end of your project, presentation, or paper, you should provide a list of the resources in which you found your information. Include all available important elements. Here are examples of references for commonly used types of resources in MLA citation style:

  • Book:

    Author. Title of Book. Publisher, publication year.

  • Online article:

    Author. “Title of article.” Website, Publication date, url, date of access.

  • Article in a journal:

    Author. “Title of article.” Journal, vol. number, issue number, year of publication, page numbers, url, date of access.

Your reference list should be in alphabetical order. It look something like this list, which uses the MLA style:

Works Cited

Bland, B. The Most Boring Thoughts in the World. Boring Publications, 1998.

Dull, D. “The history of boredom.” Journal of the Boring Society, 2015, vol. 4, no. 7, pp. 5-7.

Tedious, T. “A boring journey into the dullest events ever.” Tedium Medium, 2012, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 224-226, Accessed 17 March 2016.

“The least interesting people ever.” Average Joes, 1 January 2015,!symbols. Accessed 2 February 2014.

“Wearisome words.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 5 May 2013,*of$the+url=of%the$article. Accessed 14 July 2017.


If you use pictures, graphics, images, clip art, or photos that you find online, you must give credit to the creators of these materials. Here are the important elements to include:

  • Electronic image:

    AuthorTitle or description of the image.” Website, date of creation, www.webpage_where_you_retrieved_the_image. Date of access.

At the end of your project, presentation, or assignment, you should include image credits in your reference list. Include all available information. Web images in your reference list may look something like this:

Works Cited

Shepard, E. H. “Winnie the Pooh,” Disney Classic Characters, 1926, Accessed 25 December 2016.

“The most delicious types of honey.” Honey Statistics, Accessed 14 February 2015.

“Honey bee.” Free Clip Art, Accessed 4 July 2017.

Beewoman, Joy. “The joys of beekeeping.” YouTube, 2012,!of#other$random%letters&and*symbols. Accessed 31 October 2017.


A bibliography is a list of all the sources you read to prepare you for your paper, whether or not you cited them in 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).

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:


Helpful websites

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.

purdue owl

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): Writing help for students in Years 7-13. Covers all aspects of the creative and academic writing process.

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.

harvard citation

Harvard Citation Guide: Harvard Business School’s official citation guide for academic year 2017-2018.

Help sheets

Download these PDFs of Year group lessons.

Year 12: Library website, JSTOR, Google search techniques

Yr 12: Research process

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

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