Sunteți pe pagina 1din 150


Essay Guide
Students & Supervisors
May 2014
Dear I.B. Diploa !andidate"
!on#ratulations on $e%oin# an I.B. Diploa %andidate and on your %oitent to t&is
%&allen#in# endeavour'
(e )no* you &ave *or)ed &ard to rea%& t&is point and *e )no* t&e next ont&s *ill $e very
re*ardin# +or ea%& o+ you.
,ver t&e next ei#&t ont&s you *ill $e re-uired to *rite an Extended Essay. *&i%& is a %opulsory
%oponent o+ t&e IB /ro#rae. 0&is essay is desi#ned to #ive you an opportunity to do %riti%al
resear%& on a su$1e%t you are interested in. 0&e s)ills you &ave developed over t&e last t*o years
in t&e resear%& pro%ess and in *ritin# *ill provide you *it& t&e expertise you *ill need to
a%%oplis& t&is tas). 2esear%& is an iportant %oponent o+ ost university %urri%ula and t&e EE
is loo)ed at $y any s%&ools as an indi%ation o+ your readiness to do university resear%&. !are+ul
plannin# and )eepin# up *it& t&e $en%&ar)s listed in t&is $oo)let *ill &elp you to eet t&e
re-uired due dates.
It is iportant to ree$er t&at t&ere are any people in t&e s%&ool *&o *ill &elp you *it& your
Extended Essay $y providin# #uidan%e. support. and te%&ni%al assistan%e.
,n%e you &ave %&osen t&e #eneral su$1e%t +or you EE. you *ill as) a Glen+orest Se%ondary S%&ool
tea%&er to a%t as your EE supervisor 3also )no*n as our entor4. 0&is tea%&er ust a#ree to t&e
arran#eent and s&ould &ave an in dept& )no*led#e o+ t&e su$1e%t you &ave %&osen to resear%&.
5ny tea%&er at G6SS or any adinistrator or #uidan%e %ounselor %an $e a supervisor.
0&e EE supervisor &as su$1e%t expertise7 &e or s&e *ill $e a$le to provide you *it& &elp in
+orulatin# your resear%& -uestion and #uidin# you to*ards t&e appropriate sour%es. It is not t&e
1o$ o+ t&e supervisor to edit your essay. 8e9s&e *ill only ar) it on%e at t&e tie o+ t&e :nal
su$ission deadline date.
Good lu%) *it& t&e Extended Essay pro%ess and ree$er t&at %are+ul plannin# *ill &elp to a)e it
a u%& ore ana#ea$le experien%e. 0a)e advanta#e o+ t&e assistan%e o+ t&e supervisor. t&e IB
!oordinator and t&e EE !oordinator. (e *ill $e #lad to &elp you'
Ms. D. 8a$i$. IB !oordinator Mrs. ;. Mars&. EE !oordinator
Table of Contents
Structure of the Extended Essay ..............................................................................................................4
GFSS Extended Essay Forms.................................................................................................................17
Extended Essay Activities........................................................................................................................!
Extended Essay Format " Structure.....................................................................................................#1
Extended Essay Sam$les " Tem$lates................................................................................................1%&
Extended Essay Sub'ect Su((estions and Examiner )e$orts............................................................11!
Structure of the

Extended Essay
+,- .ission Statement
The +nternational ,accalaureate aims to develo$ in/uirin(0 1no2led(eable and carin( youn(
$eo$le 2ho hel$ to create a better and more $eaceful 2orld throu(h intercultural understandin(
and res$ect.
To this end the or(ani3ation 2or1s 2ith schools0 (overnments and international or(ani3ations to
develo$ challen(in( $ro(rammes of international education and ri(orous assessment.
These $ro(rammes encoura(e students across the 2orld to become active0 com$assionate and
lifelon( learners 2ho understand that other $eo$le0 2ith their differences0 can also be ri(ht.
4ur$ose of the Extended Essay
The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma
Programme subjectsnormally one of the students six chosen subjects for the I diploma. It is
intended to promote high-level research and !riting s"ills# intellectual discovery and creativity. It
provides students !ith an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their o!n choice#
under the guidance of a supervisor $a teacher in the school%. This leads to a major piece of formally
presented# structured !riting# in !hich ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent
manner# appropriate to the subject chosen. It is recommended that completion of the !ritten essay is
follo!ed by a short# concluding intervie!# or viva voce# !ith the supervisor. The extended essay is
assessed against common criteria# interpreted in !ays appropriate to each subject.
The extended essay is5
&ompulsory for all Diploma Programme students
'xternally assessed and# in combination !ith the grade for Theory of (no!ledge# contributes up
to three points to the total score for the I diploma
) piece of independent research*investigation on a topic chosen by the student in cooperation
!ith a supervisor in the school
&hosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects# published in the Vade Mecum
Presented as a formal !or" of scholarship that contains no more than +#,,, !ords
The result of approximately +, hours of !or" by the student concluded !ith a short intervie!# or
viva voce# !ith the teacher mentor
In the Diploma Programme# the extended essay is the prime example of a project !here the student has
the opportunity to sho! "no!ledge# understanding and enthusiasm about a topic of his or her choice. In
those countries !here it is the norm for intervie!s to be re-uired prior to acceptance for employment or
for a place at university# the extended essay has often proved to be a valuable stimulus for discussion.
+, 6earner 4rofile
The aim of all I programmes is to develop internationally minded people !ho# their
common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet# help to create a better and more peaceful
+, learners strive to be5
+n/uirers They develop their natural curiosity. They ac-uire the s"ills necessary to conduct in-uiry and
research and sho! independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning !ill
be sustained throughout their lives.
7no2led(eable They explore concepts# ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so
doing# they ac-uire in-depth "no!ledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of
Thin1ers They exercise initiative in applying thin"ing s"ills critically and creatively to recogni.e and
approach complex problems# and ma"e reasoned# ethical decisions.
Communicators They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more
than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They !or" effectively and !illingly in
collaboration !ith others.
4rinci$led They act !ith integrity and honesty# !ith a strong sense of fairness# justice and respect for
the dignity of the individuals# groups and communities. They ta"e responsibility for their o!n actions
and the conse-uences that accompany them.
-$en8minded They understand and appreciate their o!n cultures and personal histories# and are open to
the perspectives# values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to
see"ing and evaluating a range of points of vie!# and are !illing to gro! from the experience.
Carin( They sho! empathy# compassion and respect to!ards the needs and feelings of others. They
have a personal commitment to service# and act to ma"e a positive difference to the lives of others and to
the environment.
)is18ta1ers They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty !ith courage and forethought# and
have the independence of spirit to explore ne! roles# ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate
in defending their beliefs.
,alanced They understand the importance of intellectual# physical and emotional balance to achieve
personal !ell-being for themselves and others.
)eflective They give thoughtful consideration to their o!n learning and experience. They are able to
assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal
The 9i$loma 4ro(ramme :exa(on
The course is presented as six academic areas enclosing a central core. It encourages the concurrent
study of a broad range of academic areas. /tudents study0 t!o modern languages $or a modern language
and a classical language%1 a humanities or social science subject1 an experimental science1 mathematics1
one of the creative arts. It is this comprehensive range of subjects that ma"es the Diploma Programme a
demanding course of study designed to prepare students effectively for university entrance. In each of
the academic areas students have flexibility in ma"ing their choices# !hich means they can choose
subjects that particularly interest them and that they may !ish to study further at university.
Su$ervisor )es$onsibilities
It is re/uired that the supervisor0
2. Provides the student !ith advice and guidance in the s"ills of underta"ing research
3. 'ncourages and supports the student throughout the research and !riting of the extended essay
4. Discusses the choice of topic !ith the student and# in particular# helps to formulate a !ell-
focused research -uestion
+. 'nsures that the chosen research -uestion satisfies appropriate legal and ethical standards !ith
regard to health and safety# confidentiality# human rights# animal !elfare and environmental
5. Is familiar !ith the regulations governing the extended essay and the assessment criteria# and
gives copies of these to the student $done by the EE coordinator%
6. 7eads and comments on the first draft only of the extended essay $but does not edit the draft%
8. 9onitors the progress of the extended essay to offer guidance and to ensure that the essay is the
students o!n !or"1 and reads the final version to confirm its authenticity
:. /ubmits a predicted grade for the students extended essay to the '' coordinator
;. Provides evidence or explanation in !riting to validate the number of hours spent !ith the
student in discussing the extended essay $9entor 9onitoring 7ecord < 'xit Intervie! =orm%
2,. &ompletes the supervisors report $done by the EE coordinator%
22. >rites a report and presents it to the schools Diploma Programme coordinator if malpractice#
such as plagiarism# is suspected in the final draft $done by the EE coordinator%
It is stron(ly recommended that the supervisor0
2. reads recent extended essay reports for the subject $available online on the ?&&%
2. spends bet!een three and five hours !ith each student# including the time spent on the viva voce
4. ensures that the chosen research -uestion is appropriate for the subject
+. advises students on0
i. access to appropriate resources $such as people# a library# a laboratory%
ii. techni-ues of information-*evidence-*data-gathering and analysis
iii. !riting an abstract
iv. documenting sources
The student may !or" !ith or consult external sources# but it remains the responsibility of the
supervisor !ithin the school to complete all the re-uirements described above.
)es$onsibilities of the Students
It is re/uired that students0
2. &hoose a topic that fits into one of the subjects on the approved extended essay list $in the Vade
3. ?bserve the regulations relating to the extended essay
4. 9eet deadlines
+. )c"no!ledge all sources of information and ideas in an approved academic manner
It is stron(ly recommended that students0
2. /tart !or" early
3. Thin" very carefully about the research -uestion for their essay
4. Plan ho!# !hen and !here they !ill find material for their essay
+. Plan a schedule for both researching and !riting the essay# including extra time for delays and
unforeseen problems
5. 7ecord sources as their research progresses $rather than trying to reconstruct a list at the end%
6. @ave a clear structure for the essay itself before beginning to !rite
8. &hec" and proofread the final version carefully
:. 9a"e sure that all basic re-uirements are met $for example# all students should get full mar"s for
the abstract%
)ecommended5 Thin(s to do
+, Examiners; re$orts fre/uently em$hasi3e the follo2in( $ositive ste$s.
efore starting !or" on the extended essay# students should0
2. 7ead the assessment criteria
3. 7ead previous essays to identify strengths and possible pitfalls
4. /pend time !or"ing out the research -uestion $imagine the finished essay%
+. >or" out a structure for the essay.
During the research process# and !hile !riting the essay# students should0
2. /tart !or" early and stic" to deadlines
3. 9aintain a good !or"ing relationship !ith their supervisor
4. &onstruct an argument that relates to the research -uestion
+. Ase the library and consult librarians for advice
5. 7ecord sources as they go along $rather than trying to reconstruct a list at the end%
6. &hoose a ne! topic and a research -uestion that can be ans!ered if there is a problem !ith the
original topic
8. Ase the appropriate language for the subject
:. Bet their interest and enthusiasm sho!.
)fter completing the essay# students should0
2. >rite the abstract
3. &hec" and proofread the final version carefully.
)ecommended5 Thin(s to avoid
Examiners; re$orts also mention these thin(s to be avoided at all costs.
2. /tudents should not !or" !ith a research -uestion that is too broad or too vague# too narro!# too difficult
or inappropriate.
3. ) good research -uestion is one that as"s something !orth as"ing and that is ans!erable !ithin +,
hours*+#,,, !ords.
4. It should be clear !hat !ould count as evidence in relation to the -uestion# and it must be possible to
ac-uire such evidence in the course of the investigation.
+. If a student does not "no! !hat evidence is needed# or cannot collect such evidence# it !ill not be
possible to ans!er the research -uestion.
In addition# students should not0
forget to analyse the research -uestion
ignore the assessment criteria
collect material that is irrelevant to the research -uestion
use the Internet uncritically
merely describe or report $evidence must be used to support the argument%
repeat the introduction in the conclusion
cite sources that are not used.
-ne further $iece of advice is as follo2s5
The more bac1(round a student has in the sub'ect0 the better
the chance he or she has of 2ritin( a (ood extended essay.
Choosin( to 2rite the extended essay in a sub'ect that is not
bein( studied as $art of the 9i$loma 4ro(ramme often leads to
lo2er mar1s.
The Extended Essay )esearch 4rocess
>hen researching the extended essay# students should do the follo!ing.
2. &hoose the approved Diploma Programme subject for the extended essay.
7ead the assessment criteria and the relevant subject guidance.
3. &hoose a topic.
4. =ormulate a !ell-focused research -uestion.
+. Plan the investigation and !riting process.
Identify ho! and !here they !ill gather material.
Identify !hich system of academic referencing they !ill use# appropriate to the subject of
the essay.
/et deadlines for themselves that !ill allo! them to meet the schools re-uirements.
5. Plan a structure $outline headings% for the essay. This may change as the investigation develops but it
is useful to have a sense of direction.
6. Anderta"e some preparatory reading.
If students discover that it !ill not be possible to obtain the evidence needed in the time
available# the research -uestion should be changed.
This should be done sooner rather than later0 students should not lose time !aiting and
hoping that something !ill turn up.
/tudents should go bac" to stage 4# 3 or 2# and choose a ne! research -uestion that can
be ans!ered.
8. &arry out the investigation.
The material gathered should be assembled in a logical order# lin"ed to the structure of
the essay.
?nly then !ill students "no! !hether they have enough evidence for each stage of the
argument so that they can proceed to the next.
/tudents should be prepared for things to go !rong. /ometimes they may discover
something later in the investigation that undermines !hat they thought had been
established earlier on. If that happens# the investigation plan needs to be revised.
<ritin( the Extended Essay
The structure of the essay is very important. This is !hat helps students to organi.e the argument# to
ma"e best use of the evidence gathered.
The re-uired elements of the final !or" to be submitted are listed here. 9ore details about each element
are given in the C=ormal presentation of the extended essayD section.
4lease *ote5 That the order in !hich they are presented here is not necessarily the order in
!hich they should be !ritten. 7ather it is the order they !ill appear in the
completed 'xtended 'ssay.
1. Title page
2. &ontent page
3. )bstract
4. Introduction
<. ody
=. &onclusion
>. )ppendices
8. 7eferences and bibliography
/tudents should use the chosen system of academic referencing $/ubject /pecific% as soon as they start
!riting. That !ay# they are less li"ely to forget to include a citation. It is also easier than trying to add
references at a later stage. 9ost modern !ord processors are helpful !ith this.
/ome students draft the introduction first. If students do that# they must be prepared to revise it once the
essay is complete.
The main tas" is !riting the body of the essay# !hich should be presented in the form of a reasoned
argument. The form of this varies !ith the subject of the essay but# as the argument develops# it should
be clear to the reader !hat relevant evidence has been discovered# !here*ho! it has been discovered and
ho! it supports the argument. In most subjects# sub-headings !ithin the main body of the essay !ill help
the reader to understand the argument $and !ill also help the student to "eep on trac"%. ?nce the main
body of the essay is complete# it is possible to finali.e the introduction $!hich tells the reader !hat to
expect% and the conclusion $!hich says !hat has been achieved# including notes of any limitations and
any -uestions that have not been resolved%.
)ny information that is important to the argument should not be included in appendices or
footnotes*endnotes. The examiner is not bound to read notes or appendices# so an essay that is not
complete in itself !ill lose mar"s.
The remaining stages in !riting the essay ta"e time but are not difficult. /tudents need to chec" that they
have cited sources for all material that is not their o!n# and that the citations are complete and consistent
!ith the chosen referencing system. The bibliography should list only the sources used in the essay. The
!hole essay needs to be proofread carefully $computer spelling and grammar chec"ers are useful but
!ill not do everything%. Pages must be numbered and the contents page must be completed.
The abstract is normally !ritten last.
The =iva Voce >Exit +ntervie2?
The viva voce is a short intervie! bet!een the student and the supervisor# held at the conclusion to the
extended essay process. /tudents !ho do not attend the viva voce may not submit their 'xtended 'ssay.
The viva voce serves the follo2in( $ur$oses.
) chec" on plagiarism and malpractice in general
)n opportunity to reflect on successes and difficulties in the research process
)n opportunity to reflect on !hat has been learned by the student
)n aid to the mentors report process
The viva voce should last bet!een 2, and 25 minutes. This is included in the recommended amount of
time the supervisor should spend !ith the student $4-5 hours over the year long process%.
The follo!ing are examples of -uestions that can be as"ed# !hich should be adapted to the particular
essay and student.
C?n page EEE you cite F. I couldnt find this reference $for example# !eb site%. &ould you
tell me more about itGD
C>hat have been the high and lo! points of the research and !riting processesGD
C>hat !ere the most interesting aspects of the processG Did you discover anything that
surprised youGD
C>hat have you learned through !riting this essayG Is there any advice you !ould !ant
to pass on to someone just starting out on an extended essayGD
CIs there anything else that you !ould particularly li"e me to mention in my reportGD
In conducting the viva voce and completing the exit intervie! form# mentors should bear in mind the
'xaminers !ant to "no! that students understand any material $!hich must be properly
referenced% that they have included in their essays. This is particularly important in
subjects li"e mathematics. If the !ay the material is used in context in the essay does not
clearly establish this# the supervisor can chec" the students understanding in the viva
voce and report on it.
9inor slips in citation and referencing may lose the odd mar". If there appear to be major
shortcomings# the supervisor should investigate thoroughly. Ho essay should be
authenticated if the supervisor believes it contains plagiarism.
In assessing criterion ( $holistic judgment%# examiners !ill ta"e into account any
information given in the report about unusual intellectual inventiveness or persistence in
the face of unexpected difficulties
ACA9E.+C :-*EST@ A*9 .A64)ACT+CE
1. Academic :onesty
2.2 )ll Diploma Programme candidates must understand the basic meaning and significance of concepts that
relate to academic honesty# especially authenticity and intellectual property. 'nsuring that candidates understand
and respect academic honesty should not be confined to original authorship and o!nership of creative material0
academic honesty includes# for example# proper conduct in relation to the !ritten examinations. In reality# it is
probably easier to explain !hat is academic dishonesty# !ith direct reference to plagiarism# collusion and cheating
in examinations. @o!ever# !henever possible# the topic should be treated in a positive !ay# stressing the benefits
of properly conducted academic research and a respect for the integrity of all forms of assessment for the Diploma
Programme. This is preferable to simply !arning candidates that plagiarism# collusion# cheating# etc. are
unacceptable and !ill be penali.ed by the I?.
2.3 )n authentic piece of !or" is one that is based on the candidates individual and original ideas !ith the ideas
and !or" of other fully ac"no!ledged. Therefore# all assignments# !ritten or oral# completed by a candidate for
assessment must !holly and authentically use that candidates o!n language and expression. >here sources are
used or referred to# !hether in the form of direct -uotation or paraphrase# such sources must be fully and
appropriately ac"no!ledged.
2.4 The concept of intellectual property is potentially a difficult one for candidates to understand because there are
many different forms of intellectual property# such as patents# registered designs# trademar"s# moral rights and
copyright. &andidates must at least be a!are that forms of intellectual and creative expression $for example#
!or"s of literature# art or music% must be respected and are normally protected by la!.
&. .al$ractice
3.2 The 7egulations define malpractice as behaviour that results in# or may result in# the candidate or any other
candidate gaining an unfair advantage in one or more assessment components. 9alpractice includes0
a% Plagiarism0 this is defined as the representation of the ideas or !or" of an author or another person as the
candidates o!n
b% &ollusion0 this is defined as supporting malpractice by another candidate# as in allo!ing ones !or" to be
copied or submitted for assessment by another
c% Duplication of !or"0 this is defined as the presentation of the same !or" for different assessment components
and*or diploma re-uirements
d% )ny other behaviour that gains an unfair advantage for a candidate or that affects the results of another
candidate $for example# ta"ing unauthori.ed material into an examination room# misconduct during an
examination# falsifying a &)/ record.
Excer$ted from5 Academic Honesty: Guidance for Schools. Geneva0 S2it3erland5 +,-0 &%%
Extended Essay
Extended Essay Due Dates, class of
It is very iportant t&at you )eep t&is tie line and eet *it& your tea%&er supervisors at t&eir
;eep all outlines and dra+ts o+ your *or) and a $a%)up ele%troni% %opy on a ?SB or dis)
5ll students ust arran#e a eetin# *it& t&eir tea%&er supervisor at ea%& sta#e o+ t&e pro%ess.
0&ese eetin#s s&ould $e re%orded and veri:ed on t&e Mentoring Monitoring Record Sheet
By this date You Must Have Completed
Wednesday,May 28
(period 4 in the library)
Attend Library Workshop, Introduction to the EE mandatory attendance
Ms. Habib, Mr. Fink, Mrs. Marsh
Wed., May 28 Wed., June 4 Sign up sheets or topi! !oneren!e "eeting dates on Ms. Habib#s oi!e door
*hint$ begin %ogging this ti"e on your Mentoring Monitoring Record Sheet (MM!&
Wednesday, May 28 Mrs. Marsh oi!ia%%y re'uest tea!hers to (o%unteer as super(isors or ) * + ,,s
May - June 2./4 Students begin their pre%i"inary resear!h
May 28 June ) 0ndi(idua% !oneren!es or ina% topi! appro(a% - "entor (erii!ation 1ith your mentors
*hint$ %og this "eeting on your MM!
Monday, "une 2 23M ie%d trip per"ission or"s due to Mrs. Marsh in the %ibrary
3ues., June ) by 4 p.". Contract for Supervision of EE & Final Topic Confirmation 4on 1ebsite - in Student Guide&
due to Mrs. Marsh
#hrusday, "une $
%riday, "une &
Research Essay Worshop at 23M a%% day "andatory attendan!e
*hint$ %og this date on your MM!
#uesday, !ept' 2 5ough drats due 4no sub"ission resu%ts in a () *)# +(M,# status&
Students "ust hand in a !opy o the rough drat to their "entors at this ti"e as 1e%%
Students are 1orking on ina% !opy 4editing, prooreading, po%ishing ina% !opy&, "eeting 1ith
tea!her super(isors or dire!tion and ad(i!e, %ogging ti"e on MM!, !o"p%eting ina% steps o the
,, pro!ess
#hursday, *ovember 2-
(period . in the auditorium)
8itation Workshop in the auditoriu" period ) on%y "andatory attendan!e 4%og on MM!&
Mrs. Marsh - Mr. Fink 4Fina% re(ie1 o instru!tions&
"id*7o(e"ber 8andidate nu"bers a(ai%ab%e to students
Mon', (e/' 8
(deadline0 11 p'm')
Sub"it e%e!troni! !opy o ina% !opy to 111.turnitin.!o"
(e/' 8214 3 "an' 421$ Students !o"p%ete 5iva 5o/es 4ina% e9it inter(ie1s& 1ith super(isors 4MM!& and "ake ina%
!hanges to the ,, or ina% sub"ission: resub"it to 111.turnitin.!o" i ne!essary 4as "any ti"es
as ne!essary up to ina% due date
Mon', "an' 12 by . p'm'
+B!)67#8 %,*+6 (8+(6,*8
9or 8:#8*(8( 8!!+Y
Mrs' Marsh or Mr' %in; )*6Y
!tudents "ust$
* sub"it one e%e!troni! !opy to ManageBac
* hand in 2 hard !opies in !o%our
* ea!h !opy "ust ha(e one ho%e pun!h in top %et hand !orner
* hand in !o"p%eted Mentoring Monitoring Record Sheet (MM!)
< !o"p%ete - sign !o(er sheet 1hi!h is pro(ided at point o sub"ission
Mrs' Marsh or Mr' %in; 1i%% ensure that$
*a treasury !%ip 1i%% be atta!hed to ea!h !opy sub"itted: student signs !o(er sheet
Extended Essay )ubric
A5 research /uestion
This criterion assesses the extent to !hich the purpose of the essay is specified. In many subjects# the
aim of the essay !ill normally be expressed as a -uestion and# therefore# this criterion is called the
Cresearch -uestionD. @o!ever# certain disciplines may permit or encourage different !ays of
formulating the research tas".
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, The research -uestion is not stated in the introduction or does not lend itself to a
systematic investigation in an extended essay in the subject in !hich it is registered.
2 The research -uestion is stated in the introduction but is not clearly expressed or is too
broad in scope to be treated effectively !ithin the !ord limit.
3 The research -uestion is clearly stated in the introduction and sharply focused# ma"ing
effective treatment possible !ithin the !ord limit.
,5 introduction
This criterion assesses the extent to !hich the introduction ma"es clear ho! the research -uestion relates
to existing "no!ledge on the topic and explains ho! the topic chosen is significant and !orthy of
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, Bittle or no attempt is made to set the research -uestion into context. There is
little or no attempt to explain the significance of the topic.
2 /ome attempt is made to set the research -uestion into context. There is some
attempt to explain the significance of the topic and !hy it is !orthy of investigation.
3 The context of the research -uestion is clearly demonstrated. The introduction
clearly explains the significance of the topic and !hy it is !orthy of investigation
C5 investi(ation
This criterion assesses the extent to !hich the investigation is planned and an appropriate range of
sources has been consulted# or data has been gathered# that is relevant to the research -uestion. >here
the research -uestion does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in !hich the essay is
registered# the maximum level that can be a!arded for this criterion is 3.
)chievement Bevel Descriptor
, There is little or no evidence that sources have been consulted or data gathered# and little
or no evidence of planning in the investigation.
2 ) range of inappropriate sources has been consulted# or inappropriate data has been
gathered# and there is little evidence that the investigation has been planned.
3 ) limited range of appropriate sources has been consulted# or data has been gathered#
and some relevant material has been selected. There is evidence of some planning in the
4 ) sufficient range of appropriate sources has been consulted# or data has been gathered#
and relevant material has been selected. The investigation has been satisfactorily
+ )n imaginative range of appropriate sources has been consulted# or data has been
gathered# and relevant material has been carefully selected. The investigation has been
!ell planned.
95 1no2led(e and understandin( of the to$ic studied
>here the research -uestion does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in !hich the
essay is registered# the maximum level that can be a!arded for this criterion is 3. C)cademic contextD#
as used in this guide# can be defined as the current state of the field of study under investigation.
@o!ever# this is to be understood in relation to !hat can reasonably be expected of a pre-university
student. =or example# to obtain a level +# it !ould be sufficient to relate the investigation to the principal
lines of in-uiry in the relevant field1 detailed# comprehensive "no!ledge is not re-uired.
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, The essay demonstrates no real "no!ledge or understanding of the topic studied.
2 The essay demonstrates some "no!ledge but little understanding of the topic
studied. The essay sho!s little a!areness of an academic context for the
3 The essay demonstrates an ade-uate "no!ledge and some understanding of the
topic studied. The essay sho!s some a!areness of an academic context for the
4 The essay demonstrates a good "no!ledge and understanding of the topic
studied. >here appropriate# the essay successfully outlines an academic context
for the investigation.
+ The essay demonstrates a very good "no!ledge and understanding of the topic
studied. >here appropriate# the essay clearly and precisely locates the
investigation in an academic context.
E5 reasoned ar(ument
This criterion assesses the extent to !hich the essay uses the material collected to present ideas in a
logical and coherent manner# and develops a reasoned argument in relation to the research -uestion.
>here the research -uestion does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in !hich
the essay is registered# the maximum level that can be a!arded for this criterion is 3.
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, There is no attempt to develop a reasoned argument in relation to the research
2 There is a limited or superficial attempt to present ideas in a logical and coherent
manner# and to develop a reasoned argument in relation to the research -uestion.
3 There is some attempt to present ideas in a logical and coherent manner# and to
develop a reasoned argument in relation to the research -uestion# but this is only
partially successful.
4 Ideas are presented in a logical and coherent manner# and a reasoned argument is
developed in relation to the research -uestion# but !ith some !ea"nesses.
+ Ideas are presented clearly and in a logical and coherent manner. The essay
succeeds in developing a reasoned and convincing argument in relation to the
research -uestion.
F5 a$$lication of analytical and evaluative s1ills a$$ro$riate to the
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, The essay sho!s no application of appropriate analytical and evaluative s"ills.
2 The essay sho!s little application of appropriate analytical and evaluative s"ills.
3 The essay sho!s some application of appropriate analytical and evaluative s"ills#
!hich may be only partially effective.
4 The essay sho!s sound application of appropriate analytical and evaluative s"ills.
+ The essay sho!s effective and sophisticated application of appropriate analytical
and evaluative s"ills.
G5 use of lan(ua(e a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, The language used is inaccurate and unclear. There is no effective use of
terminology appropriate to the subject.
2 The language used sometimes communicates clearly but does not do so
consistently. The use of terminology appropriate to the subject is only partly
3 The language used for the most part communicates clearly. The use of
terminology appropriate to the subject is usually accurate.
4 The language used communicates clearly. The use of terminology appropriate to
the subject is accurate# although there may be occasional lapses.
+ The language used communicates clearly and precisely. Terminology appropriate
to the subject is used accurately# !ith s"ill and understanding.
:5 conclusion
This criterion assesses the extent to !hich the essay incorporates a conclusion that is relevant to the
research -uestion and is consistent !ith the evidence presented in the essay.
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, Bittle or no attempt is made to provide a conclusion that is relevant to the
research -uestion.
2 ) conclusion is attempted that is relevant to the research -uestion but may not be
entirely consistent !ith the evidence presented in the essay.
3 )n effective conclusion is clearly stated1 it is relevant to the research -uestion
and consistent !ith the evidence presented in the essay. It should include
unresolved -uestions !here appropriate to the subject concerned.
+5 formal $resentation
This criterion assesses the extent to !hich the layout# organi.ation# appearance and formal elements of
the essay consistently follo! a standard format. The formal elements are0 title page# table of contents#
page numbers# illustrative material# -uotations# documentation $including references# citations and
bibliography% and appendices $if used%.
)chievement Bevel Descriptor
, The formal presentation is unacceptable# or the essay exceeds +#,,, !ords.
2 The formal presentation is poor
3 The formal presentation is satisfactory
4 The formal presentation is good
+ The formal presentation is excellent
A5 abstract
The re-uirements for the abstract are for it to state clearly the research -uestion that !as investigated#
ho! the investigation !as underta"en and the conclusion$s% of the essay.
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, The abstract exceeds 4,, !ords or one or more of the re-uired elements of an
abstract $listed above% is missing.
2 The abstract contains the elements listed above but they are not all clearly stated
3 The abstract clearly states all the elements listed above
75 holistic 'ud(ment
The purpose of this criterion is to assess the -ualities that distinguish an essay from the average# such as
intellectual initiative# depth of understanding and insight. >hile these -ualities !ill be clearly present in
the best !or"# less successful essays may also sho! some evidence of them and should be re!arded
under this criterion
Achievement 6evel 9escri$tor
, The essay sho!s no evidence of such -ualities.
2 The essay sho!s little evidence of such -ualities.
3 The essay sho!s some evidence of such -ualities.
4 The essay sho!s clear evidence of such -ualities.
+ The essay sho!s considerable evidence of such -ualities.
Extended Essay .entor 4ro$osal
7esearch -uestion $this should be very focused%0
Types of sources to be used $e.g.# periodicals1 ne!spapers1 boo"s1 Internet sites I !hich must be fully cited# not
just the address1 intervie!s if intervie!s !ill be used# please state !ho you are planning to intervie! and !ho
they are%
@o! I !ill have access to these sourcesG
Contract for Su$ervision of Extended Essay
essay in JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ$name of subject% on the topic of
I have and read and understood the latest version of the general guidelines regarding the extended essay#
as !ell as the guidelines specific to the subject I have chosen. ?7
I underta"e to read and understand the latest version of the general guidelines regarding the extended
essay# as !ell as the guidelines specific to the subject I have chosen.
I agree to abide by the deadlines as specified# as may be modified in consultation !ith my supervisor.
I understand and !ill abide by the school policy !ith regard to academic honesty# and shall scrupulously
cite all references and sources of ideas# -uotations# data# diagrams# illustrations and other information
!hich I use in my extended essay. I also agree that I !ill be solely responsible for any breaches of
academic integrity in the !riting of my essay.
+ fully understand that my su$ervisor;s res$onsibility 2ill be
K To encourage and support me in my efforts
K To provide advice of a subject specific nature
K To provide guidance in developing the research s"ills necessary in the subject area of the essay.
K To ensure that the essay is my o!n !or"
K To complete the supervisors report.
+ also fully understand that my su$ervisor;s res$onsibility does *-T extend to
K Letting me started*telling me !hat to do
K Living me a research -uestion
K Living me the source material
K 'diting and proof-reading my !or"
K &hec"ing calculations and correcting errors
K Luaranteeing success.
+ understand that my su$ervisor can declare this a(reement void if + fail to fulfill its conditions. +n
$articular0 + understand and a(ree that + 2ill not receive the +, 9i$loma if + am unable to satisfy my
su$ervisor about the authenticity of my extended essay.
/tudent /ignature < Date /upervisor /ignature < Date
>Submit to .rs. .arsh on Aune by 4 $.m.?
Extended Essay Final To$ic Confirmation
9ue by Aune by 4 $.m. to .rs. .arsh
)esearch Cuestion
Extend Essay .entorin( .onitorin( )ecord
>$rint as many $a(es as needed?
.eetin( 9ate 9uration
of .eetin(
9iscussion To$ic .entor
Final Exit
.eetin( 9ate
Total Time S$ent
2ith .entor
Essay Com$leted Turn8+t8+n
Student Si(nature5
@ES *- @ES *-
.entor Si(nature5
Glossary of Command Terms
/tudents should be familiar !ith the follo!ing "ey terms and phrases used in examination -uestions#
!hich are to be understood as described belo!. )lthough these terms !ill be used fre-uently in
examination -uestions# other terms may be used to direct students to present an argument in a specific
Analyse rea" do!n in order to bring out the essential elements or structure. &ompare Live an account
of the similarities bet!een t!o $or more% items or situations# referring to both $all% of them throughout.
Com$are and contrast Live an account of similarities and differences bet!een t!o $or more% items or
situations# referring to both $all% of them throughout.
Contrast Live an account of the differences bet!een t!o $or more% items or situations# referring to both
$all% of them throughout.
9efine Live the precise meaning of a !ord# phrase# concept or physical -uantity.
9escribe Live a detailed account.
9iscuss ?ffer a considered and balanced revie! that includes a range of arguments# factors or
hypotheses. ?pinions or conclusions should be presented clearly and supported by appropriate evidence.
9istin(uish 9a"e clear the differences bet!een t!o or more concepts or items.
Evaluate 9a"e an appraisal by !eighing up the strengths and limitations.
Examine &onsider an argument or concept in a !ay that uncovers the assumptions and
interrelationships of the issue.
Ex$lain Live a detailed account including reasons or causes.
+dentify Provide an ans!er from a number of possibilities.
Austify Live valid reasons or evidence to support an ans!er or conclusion.
To 2hat extent &onsider the merits or other!ise of an argument or concept. ?pinions and conclusions
should be presented clearly and supported !ith appropriate evidence and sound argument.
Final Format Su((estions
9aximum !ord count 4,, !ords I D? H?T L? ?M'7NNN
Three paragraph format
85 to 2,, !ords in length
9ust include the 7esearch Ouestion < Thesis
9ust outline the purpose of the paper
2,, to 235 !ords in length
&over the scope of the investigation
Detail limits and boundaries of your research
>hat are you going to prove in your ''
?utline "ey resources consulted
5, to 85 !ords
?utline the conclusion reached in your ''
)esearch Cuestion
9ust be included in all of the follo!ing locations0
Table of &ontent
?pening Paragraph
Pour 7esearch Ouestion must be able to be reasonably ans!ered in +,,, !ords
9ust be located in all of the follo!ing locations0
Table of &ontent
?pening Paragraph
Pour Thesis must ans!er your 7esearch Ouestion and be clear in purpose
Table of Content
It should include all of the follo!ing0
7esearch Ouestion
Introduction and page number
)rguments and related page numbers
/ub-headings and related page numbers
&onclusion and page number
)ppendix and page numbers
ibliography and page number
=ormat and structure !ill depend on subject
Title 4a(e
Pour title should be 2*4 from the top of the page and centered
23 font -- Times He! 7oman
Pour personal information should be included in the bottom right corner
Pour full name $as it !ill appear on your I Diploma%
Pour I /tudent Humber
/chool Hame $Turner =enton /econdary /chool%
Pour subject area $ie. @istory# 'nglish# &hemistry%
Format Structure
2 inch boarder on all pages $3.5 cm%
23 font Time He! 7oman
double space
Page Humber I Top right corner $H?T on cover page * title page%
Final Submission
T>? copies needed
Treasury inding ?HBP ?riginality 7eport
9entor 9onitoring 7ecord
'xit Intervie! =orm
'xtended 'ssay 7ubric
Extended Essay Chec1 6ist
Action Chec1
2 Is the essay !ithin +,,, !ordsG
3 Is there a title pageG
4 Is there a table of contentG
+ )re all of the pages numberedG In the top right corner of the pageG
5 )re all diagrams# charts and graphs indexed and labelled and sources
referenced !here applicableG
6 )re all necessary terms defined or explainedG
8 Is every reference cited in a footnote or internallyG
: )re your references cited consistently and correctlyG
; Does the ibliography include all and only the !or"s of reference
you have consultedG
2, Does the ibliography specify author(s), title, and the date of
publication and publisher for every referenceG
22 )re the ibliography sources cited consistently and correctly?
23 Does the )ppendix contain only relevant informationG
24 )re all references to the )ppendix clearly cross-referenced and
2+ Is your research -uestion stated on the table of contentG
25 Is your research -uestion stated and in bold in the IntroductionG
26 Is your research -uestion restated and in bold in the &onclusionG
28 Is your thesis*hypothesis stated on the table of contentG
2: Is your thesis*hypothesis stated in the IntroductionG &onclusionG
2; Is the scope of the investigation stated in the IntroductionG
3, Does your &onclusion address unresolved -uestionsG
32 Does your &onclusion address ne! -uestions that have emergedG
33 )re your Introduction and Conclusion titled in your table of contentG
34 Is your )bstract !ithin 4,, !ordsG
3+ Does your )bstract contain the research question $in bold%# the scope
of the investiation and the conclusion reachedG
35 /ubmit your completed essay to and print your
originality report.
Final Assessment Criteria Chec1lists
Chec1list 4art A
Does the 7esearch Ouestion address only one I /ubject )reaG
&an the topic be fully argued in +,,, !ordsG
Is the research -uestion a single sentenceG
Does the 7esearch Ouestion lend itself to a systematic investigationG
/ystematic Investigation0 The methodical examination to be underta"en to complete the ''.
Is the 7esearch Ouestion sharply focusedG
@as the scope of the investigation been sufficiently refinedG
/cope0 The range of content to be covered !ithin the ''.
@as an I command term been used in the 7esearch OuestionG
Is the 7esearch Ouestion located on the Table of &ontentG
Is the 7esearch Ouestion located in the )bstractG
Is the 7esearch Ouestion located in the IntroductionG
Is the 7esearch Ouestion located in the &onclusionG
Chec1list 4art ,
Is the 7esearch Ouestion set !ithin a clear contextG
&ontext0 The frame!or" the '' topic.
@as the relevance of the topic been outlined in the IntroductionG
Is the topic !orthy of studyG
@as the '' topic been lin"ed to a specific course demand
Is the 7esearch Ouestion located in the IntroductionG
Is the Thesis*@ypothesis located in the IntroductionG
Is the /cope of the Investigation outlined in the Introduction
Chec1list 4art C
Is there an acceptable number of sourcesG $'nglish I 2# ?thers 5-2,%
Is there an acceptable range of sourcesG $Primary vs. /econdary%
Is the data*evidence gathered creditableG $)cademic /ources%
Is there evidence of planningG
@ave ideas been presented in an imaginative mannerG
If only 2 point !as a!arded in Part ) no more than 3 can be a!arded in Part &.
Chec1list 4art 9
Is there a clear evidence of subject specific content "no!ledgeG
Is there an understanding of the topic studiedG
Is there evidence of )cademic &ontext !ithin the investigationG
)cademic &ontext0 'vidence provided !hich represents the leadings schools of thought !ithin the
subject area.
?nly the exceptional submissions should receive full mar"s in their section
If only 2 point !as a!arded in Part ) no more than 3 can be a!arded in Part D.
Chec1list 4art E
Do the arguments structured to support the thesisG
Do the arguments support the 7esearch OuestionG
)re the argument balanced in lengthG
>hich is the strongest argumentG
'nsure that the final argument is not the !ea"estG
If only 2 point !as a!arded in Part ) no more than 3 can be a!arded in Part '.
Chec1list 4art F
Anderstanding needed of subject specific s"ills $see specific subject guides%
@as each piece of data*evidence been analy.edG
@as the topic relevance been revealed !ithin the critical analysisG
@as the Qho! and Q!hy been considered !ithin the context of the topicG
@ave the subject specific s"ills from the subject guide been demonstratedG
Chec1list 4art G
@as the language been refined to be as specific as possibleG
&onsider re-!ording the sentences to create simple and clear statements.
@as appropriate subject specific terminology been incorporated into the ''G
@as there been evidence of both application and understanding of "ey terminologyG
Chec1list 4art :
@as an effective conclusion been reachedG
@as a clear conclusion been statedG
@as the 7esearch Ouestion been restated in the &onclusionG
>here appropriate0 Include any unresolved -uestions tied to the subject under study.
Chec1list 4art +
Does the '' exceed +,,, !ordsG
Does the Title Page meet T=// re-uirementsG /ee sample.
Does the Table of &ontent meet the T=// re-uirementsG /ee sample.
Does the )bstract meet the T=// re-uirementsG /ee sample.
)re the page numbers located in the top right corner of each pageG
Does the referencing follo! one standard formatG $/ubject standardi.ation re-uired%
ibliography should include only sources !hich are directly cited !ithin the ''.
)ppendices should only be used if re-uired by the subject discipline.
@as the '' been presented !ith standard 2inch $3.5cm margins%G
@as the '' been double spacedG
Chec1list 4art A
Does the )bstract exceed 4,, !ordsG
Does the )bstract have three paragraphsG
Is the total !ord count located at the bottom of the )bstractG
Is the 7esearch Ouestion located in the first paragraphG
Is the Thesis located !ithin the first paragraphG
Is the purpose of the '' outlined in the first paragraphG
Is the scope of the investigation outlined in the second paragraphG
Is the method of the investigation outlined in the second paragraphG
)re the "ey sources*resources outlined in the second paragraphG
Is the conclusion to the '' outlined in the third paragraphG
)re any unans!ered -uestions not addressed in the '' outlined in the third paragraphG
Chec1list 4art 7
>hat distinguishes this '' from the averageG
Is there evidence of Intellectual initiative on the part of the studentG
To !hat extent did the student exhibit understanding and insightG
Did the student adhere to an established scheduleG
=iva =oce Exit +ntervie2
The viva voce should last 2, to 25 minutes.
The viva voce serves the follo2in( $ur$oses.
R ) chec" on plagiarism and malpractice in general
R )n opportunity to reflect on successes and difficulties in the research process
R )n opportunity to reflect on !hat has been learned
R )n aid to the supervisors report
The .entor should discuss each /uestion 2ith the student and mar1 the corres$ondin( boxes then
si(n the com$leted form for submission by the student 2ith their com$leted Extended Essay.
CuestionsD Acce$table Enacce$table
@as the research -uestion been clearly stated in the introduction#
conclusion and abstractG
@as the thesis statement been clearly stated in the introduction#
conclusion and abstractG
Is the 'xtended 'ssay Total !ord count under +,,, !ordsG
Is the abstract complete and under 4,, !ordsG
Does the student fully understand the content submittedG
@as all material been properly referencedG
@as a verification report been printedG
Does the report indicate less than +,S source
reference materialG
>hat have you learned through !riting this essayG
>hat !ere the most interesting aspects of the '' processG
Did you discover anything that surprised youG
Is there any advice you !ould !ant to pass on to someone just
starting out on an extended essayG
Is there anything else that you !ould particularly li"e me to
mention in my reportG
)ssessing &riterion ( I @olistic Tudgement
)dditional &omments 7e-uired for any Anacceptable Indicators0
Extended Essay
)esearch Cuestion
>hy not instead refine your topic to one techni-ue and frame a -uestion that aims to explore that
techni-ueUs efficacyG 'xploring VIs hypnosis $or primal screaming# or group therapy or !hatever% a
valuable strategy to use in psychotherapyGV !ould do more justice to the assignment. )nd it !ould be
easier to loo" for direct evidence in that area.
E=A6EATE @-E) -<* )ESEA)C: CEEST+-*
)s" the follo!ing : -uestions to evaluate the -uality of your research -uestion and the ease !ith !hich you
should be able to ans!er it0
2. Does the -uestion deal !ith a topic or issue that interest me enough to spar" my o!n thoughts and
3. Is the -uestion easily and fully researchableG
4. >hat type of information do I need to ans!er the research -uestionG
e.g.# The research -uestion# V>hat impact has deregulation had on commercial airline safetyG#V !ill
obviously re-uire certain types of information0
o statistics on airline crashes before and after
o statistics on other safety problems before and after
o information about maintenance practices before and after
o information about government safety re-uirements before and after
+. Is the scope of this information reasonableG $e.g.# can I really research 4, on-line !riting programs
developed over a span of 2, yearsG%
5. Liven the type and scope of the information that I need# is my -uestion too broad# too narro!# or o.".G
6. >hat sources !ill have the type of information that I need to ans!er the research -uestion $journals#
boo"s# internet resources# government documents# and people%G
8. &an I access these sourcesG
8. Liven my ans!ers to the above -uestions# do I have a good -uality research -uestion that I actually !ill
be able to ans!er by doing researchG
Evaluation Ti$5 Contact your EE .entor if youFre not sure 2hether your research /uestion fulfills
the assi(nment.
<ritin( )esearch Cuestions Gra$hic -r(ani3er <ritin( )esearch Cuestions Gra$hic -r(ani3er

)esearch Cuestion )efinement
=or each of the topic ideas# refine into a sharply focused research -uestion.
,iolo(y -- =actors that affect the germination of seeds
Com$uter Science I )rtificial Intelligence
En(lish G Pride and Prejudice
:istory I The /oviet Anion under /talin
.athematics I Prime Humbers
<ritin( a Thesis Statement
) thesis statement is a sentence that expresses the main ideas of your essay and ans!ers the research
-uestion posed by your extended essay. It offers the examiner an immediate and simple !ay to follo!
!hat the essay !ill be discussing and !hat you as a !riter are setting out to tell them.
General Thesis Statement Ti$s
) thesis statement generally consists of t!o parts0 your topic# and then the analysis# explanation$s%# or
assertion$s% that youUre ma"ing about the topic. The "ind of thesis statement you !rite !ill depend on
!hat "ind of extended essay youUre !riting.
) thesis statement is an extremely specific statement -- it should cover only !hat you !ant to discuss in
your extended essay# and be supported !ith specific evidence. The scope of your paper !ill be determined
by your topic and the +,,, !ord maximum length of the extended essay.
Lenerally# a thesis statement appears at the end of the first paragraph of an essay# so that readers !ill have
a clear idea of !hat to expect as they read.
Pou can thin" of your thesis as a map or a guide both for yourself and your audience.
)s you !rite and revise your paper# it is acceptable to change your thesis statement -- sometimes you do
not discover !hat you really intended to say about our topic until you have started to !rite. 'nsure that
your Qfinal thesis statement accurately sho!s !hat !ill be covered in your paper.
Ar(umentative Thesis Statements
In an argumentative paper# you are ma"ing a claim about a topic and justifying this claim !ith reasons
and evidence. This claim could be an opinion# a policy proposal# an evaluation# a cause-and-effect
statement# or an interpretation. @o!ever# this claim must be a statement that people could possibly
disagree !ith# because the goal of your paper is to convince your audience that your claim is true based
on your presentation of your reasons and evidence. )n argumentative thesis statement !ill tell your
your claim or assertion
the reasons*evidence that support this claim
the order in !hich you !ill be presenting your reasons and evidence
'xample0 arn o!lsU nests should not be eliminated from barns because barn o!ls help farmers by
eliminating insect and rodent pests.
) reader !ho encountered this thesis !ould expect to be presented !ith an argument and evidence that
farmers should not get rid of barn o!ls !hen they find them nesting in their barns.
Ouestions to as" yourself !hen !riting an argumentative thesis statement0
>hat is my claim or assertionG
>hat are the reasons I have to support my claim or assertionG
In !hat order should I present my reasonsG
Analytical Thesis Statements
In an analytical paper# you are brea"ing do!n an issue or an idea into its component parts# evaluating the
issue or idea# and presenting this brea"do!n and evaluation to your audience. )n analytical thesis
statement !ill explain0
!hat you are
the parts of your analysis
the order in !hich you !ill be presenting your analysis
'xample0 )n analysis of barn o!l flight behaviour reveals t!o "inds of flight patterns0 patterns related
to hunting prey and patterns related to courtship.
) reader !ho encountered that thesis in a paper !ould expect an explanation of the analysis of barn o!l
flight behaviour# and then an explanation of the t!o "inds of flight patterns.
Ouestions to as" yourself !hen !riting an analytical thesis statement0
>hat did I analy.eG
>hat did I discover in my analysisG
@o! can I categori.e my discoveriesG
In !hat order should I present my discoveriesG
Ex$ository >Ex$lanatory? Thesis Statements
In an expository paper# you are explaining something to your audience. )n expository thesis statement
!ill tell your audience0
!hat you are going to explain to them
the categories you are using to organi.e your explanation
the order in !hich you !ill be presenting your categories
'xample0 The lifestyles of barn o!ls include hunting for insects and animals# building nests# and raising
their young.
) reader !ho encountered that thesis !ould expect the paper to explain ho! barn o!ls hunt for insects#
build nests# and raise young.
Ouestions to as" yourself !hen !riting an expository thesis statement0
>hat am I trying to explainG
@o! can I categori.e my explanation into different partsG
In !hat order should I present the different parts of my explanationG
Thesis Statements
<hat this handout is about
This handout describes !hat a thesis statement is# ho! thesis statements !or" in your !riting# and ho!
you can discover or refine one for your draft.
>riting in high school often ta"es the form of persuasionconvincing others that you have an
interesting# logical point of vie! on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a s"ill you practice
regularly in your daily life. Pou persuade your roommate to clean up# your parents to let you borro! the
car# your friend to vote for your favourite candidate or policy. In high school# course assignments often
as" you to ma"e a persuasive case in !riting. Pou are as"ed to convince your reader of your point of
vie!. This form of persuasion# often called academic argument# follo!s a predictable pattern in !riting.
)fter a brief introduction of your topic# you state your point of vie! on the topic directly and often in
one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement# and it serves as a summary of the argument youUll
ma"e in the rest of your paper.
<hat is a thesis statementD
A thesis statement5
tells the reader ho! you !ill interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
is a road map for the paper1 in other !ords# it tells the reader !hat to expect from the rest of the
directly ans!ers the -uestion as"ed of you. ) thesis is an interpretation of a -uestion or subject#
not the subject itself. The subject# or topic# of an essay might be >orld >ar II or 9oby Dic"1 a
thesis must then offer a !ay to understand the !ar or the novel.
ma"es a claim that others might dispute.
is usually a single sentence some!here in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the
reader. The rest of the paper# the body of the essay# gathers and evidence that !ill
persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.
If your assignment as"s you to ta"e a position or develop a claim about a subject# you may need to
convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may
not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you !ill include
one. >hen in doubt# as" your instructor if the assignment re-uires a thesis statement. >hen an
assignment as"s you to analy.e# to interpret# to compare and contrast# to demonstrate cause and effect# or
to ta"e a stand on an issue# it is li"ely that you are being as"ed to develop a thesis and to support it
:o2 do + (et a thesisD
) thesis is the result of a lengthy thin"ing process. =ormulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after
reading an essay assignment. efore you develop an argument on any topic# you have to collect and
organi.e evidence# loo" for possible relationships bet!een "no!n facts $such as surprising contrasts or
similarities%# and thin" about the significance of these relationships. ?nce you do this thin"ing# you !ill
probably have a V!or"ing thesis#V a basic or main idea# an argument that you thin" you can support !ith
evidence but that may need adjustment along the !ay.
>riters use all "inds of techni-ues to stimulate their thin"ing and to help them clarify relationships or
comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement.
:o2 do + 1no2 if my thesis is stron(D
'ven if you do not have time to get advice else!here# you can do some thesis evaluation of your o!n.
>hen revie!ing your first draft and its !or"ing thesis# as" yourself the follo!ing0
!o I ans"er the question? 7e-reading the -uestion prompt after constructing a !or"ing thesis
can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the -uestion.
#ave I ta$en a position that others miht challene or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts
that no one !ould# or even could# disagree !ith# itUs possible that you are simply providing a
summary# rather than ma"ing an argument.
Is my thesis statement specific enoughG Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a
strong argument. If your thesis contains !ords li"e VgoodV or Vsuccessful#V see if you could be
more specific0 "hy is something VgoodV1 "hat specifically ma"es something VsuccessfulVG
!oes my thesis pass the %&o "hat?% test? If a readerUs first response is# V/o !hatGV then you need
to clarify# to forge a relationship# or to connect to a larger issue.
!oes my essay support my thesis specifically and "ithout "anderin? If your thesis and the body
of your essay do not seem to go together# one of them has to change. ItUs o.". to change your
!or"ing thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of !riting your paper.
7emember# al!ays reassess and revise your !riting as necessary.
!oes my thesis pass the %ho" and "hy?% test? If a readerUs first response is Vho!GV or V!hyGV
your thesis may be too open-ended and lac" guidance for the reader. /ee !hat you can add to
give the reader a better ta"e on your position right from the beginning.
/uppose you are ta"ing a course on 2;th-century )merica# and the instructor hands out the follo!ing
essay assignment0 &ompare and contrast the reasons !hy the Horth and /outh fought the &ivil >ar. Pou
turn on the computer and type out the follo!ing0
'he (orth and &outh fouht the Civil )ar for many reasons, some of "hich "ere the same and some
This !ea" thesis restates the -uestion !ithout providing any additional information. Pou !ill expand on
this ne! information in the body of the essay# but it is important that the reader "no! !here you are
heading. ) reader of this !ea" thesis might thin"# V>hat reasonsG @o! are they the sameG @o! are they
differentGV )s" yourself these same -uestions and begin to compare Horthern and /outhern attitudes
$perhaps you first thin"# VThe /outh believed slavery !as right# and the Horth thought slavery !as
!rongV%. Ho!# push your comparison to!ard an interpretation!hy did one side thin" slavery !as
right and the other side thin" it !as !rongG Pou loo" again at the evidence# and you decide that you are
going to argue that the Horth believed slavery !as immoral !hile the /outh believed it upheld the
/outhern !ay of life. Pou !rite0
)hile both sides fouht the Civil )ar over the issue of slavery, the (orth fouht for moral reasons "hile
the &outh fouht to preserve its o"n institutions.
Ho! you have a !or"ing thesisN Included in this !or"ing thesis is a reason for the !ar and some idea of
ho! the t!o sides disagreed over this reason. )s you !rite the essay# you !ill probably begin to
characteri.e these differences more precisely# and your !or"ing thesis may start to seem too vague.
9aybe you decide that both sides fought for moral reasons# and that they just focused on different moral
issues. Pou end up revising the !or"ing thesis into a final thesis that really captures the argument in
your paper0
)hile both (ortherners and &outherners believed they fouht aainst tyranny and oppression,
(ortherners focused on the oppression of slaves "hile &outherners defended their o"n riht to self-
&ompare this to the original !ea" thesis. This final thesis presents a !ay of interpretin evidence that
illuminates the significance of the -uestion. *eep in mind that this is one of many possible
interpretations of the Civil )ar+it is not the one and only riht ans"er to the question. There isnUt one
right ans!er1 there are only strong and !ea" thesis statements and strong and !ea" uses of evidence.
BetUs loo" at another example. /uppose your literature professor hands out the follo!ing assignment in a
class on the )merican novel0 >rite an analysis of some aspect of 9ar" T!ainUs novel @uc"leberry =inn.
VThis !ill be easy#V you thin". VI loved @uc"leberry =innNV Pou grab a pad of paper and !rite0
Mar$ '"ain,s #uc$leberry -inn is a reat .merican novel.
>hy is this thesis !ea"G Thin" about !hat the reader !ould expect from the essay that follo!s0 you !ill
most li"ely provide a general# appreciative summary of T!ainUs novel. The -uestion did not as" you to
summari.e1 it as"ed you to analy.e. Pour professor is probably not interested in your opinion of the
novel1 instead# she !ants you to thin" about "hy itUs such a great novel!hat do @uc"Us adventures tell
us about life# about )merica# about coming of age# about race relations# etc.G =irst# the -uestion as"s you
to pic" an aspect of the novel that you thin" is important to its structure or meaningfor example# the
role of storytelling# the contrasting scenes bet!een the shore and the river# or the relationships bet!een
adults and children. Ho! you !rite0
In #uc$leberry -inn, Mar$ '"ain develops a contrast bet"een life on the river and life on the shore.
@ereUs a !or"ing thesis !ith potential0 you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for
investigation1 ho!ever# itUs still not clear !hat your analysis !ill reveal. Pour reader is intrigued# but is
still thin"ing# V/o !hatG >hatUs the point of this contrastG >hat does it signifyGV Perhaps you are not
sure yet# either. ThatUs finebegin to !or" on comparing scenes from the boo" and see !hat you
discover. =ree !rite# ma"e lists# jot do!n @uc"Us actions and reactions. 'ventually you !ill be able to
clarify for yourself# and then for the reader# !hy this contrast matters. )fter examining the evidence and
considering your o!n insights# you !rite0
'hrouh its contrastin river and shore scenes, '"ain,s #uc$leberry -inn suests that to find the true
e/pression of .merican democratic ideals, one must leave %civili0ed% society and o bac$ to nature.
This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary !or" based on an analysis of its
content. ?f course# for the essay itself to be successful# you must no! present evidence from the novel
that !ill convince the reader of your interpretation.
<or1s consulted
)nson# &hris 9. and 7obert ). /ch!egler. The Bongman @andboo" for >riters. 3nd ed. He! Por"0
Bongman# 3,,,.
@airston# 9axine and Tohn T. 7us."ie!ic.. The /cott# =oresman @andboo" for >riters. +th ed. He!
Por"0 @arper&ollins# 2;;6.
Bunsford# )ndrea and 7obert &onnors. The /t. 9artinUs @andboo". 4rd ed. He! Por"0 /t. 9artinUs#
7osen# Beonard T. and Baurence ehrens. The )llyn < acon @andboo". 4rd ed. oston0 )llyn <
acon# 2;;8.
:o2 to Generate a Thesis Statement
) strong thesis statement !ill usually include the follo!ing four characteristics0
/elect a subject upon !hich reasonable individuals could disagree
&onsider a subject that can be ade-uately examined given the nature of the extended essay
It should express one clear central idea
It should assert your conclusions about a subject
1rainstorm the topic.
2efine the topic.
'a$e a clear position on the topic.
3se specific lanuae, common to the sub4ect area.
Ma$e an assertion based on clearly stated support.
<hat this handout is about
This handout !ill define !hat an argument is and explain !hy you need one in most of your academic
Ar(uments are every2here
Pou may be surprised to hear that the !ord VargumentV does not have to be !ritten any!here in your
assignment for it to be an important part of your tas". In fact# ma"ing an argumentexpressing a point
of vie! on a subject and supporting it !ith evidenceis often the aim of academic !riting.
9ost material you learn in high school is or has been debated by someone# some!here# at some time.
'ven !hen the material you read or hear is presented as simple Vfact#V it may actually be one personUs
interpretation of a set of information. Instructors may call on you to examine that interpretation and
defend it# refute it# or offer some ne! vie! of your o!n. In !riting assignments# you !ill almost al!ays
need to do more than just summari.e information that you have gathered or regurgitate facts that have
been discussed in class. Pou !ill need to develop a point of vie! on or interpretation of that material and
provide evidence for your position.
If you thin" that Vfact#V not argument# rules intelligent thin"ing# consider an example. =or nearly 3,,,
years# educated people in many >estern cultures believed that bloodlettingdeliberately causing a sic"
person to lose blood!as the most effective treatment for a variety of illnesses. The VfactV that
bloodletting is beneficial to human health !as not !idely -uestioned until the 2:,,Us# and some
physicians continued to recommend bloodletting as late as the 2;3,Us. >e have come to accept a
different set of VfactsV no! because some people began to doubt the effectiveness of bloodletting1 these
people argued against it and provided convincing evidence. @uman "no!ledge gro!s out of such
differences of opinion# and scholars li"e your instructors spend their lives engaged in debate over !hat
may be counted as Vtrue#V Vreal#V or VrightV in their fields. In their courses# they !ant you to engage in
similar "inds of critical thin"ing and debate.
)rgumentation is not just !hat your instructors do. >e all use argumentation on a daily basis# and you
probably already have some s"ill at crafting an argument. The more you improve your s"ills in this area#
the better you !ill be at thin"ing critically# reasoning# ma"ing choices# and !eighing evidence.
.a1in( a claim
>hat is an argumentG In academic !riting# an argument is usually a main idea# often called a VclaimV or
Vthesis statement#V bac"ed up !ith evidence that supports the idea. In the majority of college papers# you
!ill need to ma"e some sort of claim and use evidence to support it# and your ability to do this !ell !ill
separate your papers from those of students !ho see assignments as mere accumulations of fact and
detail. In other !ords# gone are the happy days of being given a VtopicV about !hich you can !rite
anything. It is time to sta"e out a position and prove !hy it is a good position for a thin"ing person to
&laims can be as simple as VProtons are positively charged and electrons are negatively charged#V !ith
evidence such as# VIn this experiment# protons and electrons acted in such and such a !ay.V &laims can
also be as complex as VThe end of the /outh )frican system of apartheid !as inevitable#V using
reasoning and evidence such as# V'very successful revolution in the modern era has come about after the
government in po!er has given and then removed small concessions to the uprising group.V In either
case# the rest of your paper !ill detail the reasoning and evidence that have led you to believe that your
position is best.
>hen beginning to !rite a paper# as" yourself# V>hat is my pointGV =or example# the point of this
handout is to help you become a better !riter# and !e are arguing that an important step in the process of
!riting effective arguments is understanding the concept of argumentation. If your papers do not have a
main point# they cannot be arguing for anything. )s"ing yourself !hat your point is can help you avoid a
mere Vinformation dump.V &onsider this0 your instructors probably "no! a lot more than you do about
your subject matter. >hy# then# !ould you !ant to provide them !ith material they already "no!G
Instructors are usually loo"ing for t!o things0
2. Proof that you understand the material# )HD
3. ) demonstration of your ability to use or apply the material in !ays that go beyond !hat you
have read or heard.
This second part can be done in many !ays0 you can criti-ue the material# apply it to something else# or
even just explain it in a different !ay. In order to succeed at this second step# though# you must have a
particular point to argue.
)rguments in academic !riting are usually complex and ta"e time to develop. Pour argument !ill need
to be more than a simple or obvious statement such as V=ran" Bloyd >right !as a great architect.V /uch
a statement might capture your initial impressions of >right as you have studied him in class1 ho!ever#
you need to loo" deeper and express specifically !hat caused that Vgreatness.V Pour instructor !ill
probably expect something more complicated# such as V=ran" Bloyd >rightUs architecture combines
elements of 'uropean modernism# )sian aesthetic form# and locally found materials to create a uni-ue
ne! style#V or VThere are many strong similarities bet!een >rightUs building designs and those of his
mother# !hich suggests that he may have borro!ed some of her ideas.V To develop your argument# you
!ould then define your terms and prove your claim !ith evidence from >rightUs dra!ings and buildings
and those of the other architects you mentioned.
Do not stop !ith having a point. Pou have to bac" up your point !ith evidence. The strength of your
evidence# and your use of it# can ma"e or brea" your argument. Pou already have the natural inclination
for this type of thin"ing# if not in an academic setting. Thin" about ho! you tal"ed your parents into
letting you borro! the family car. Did you present them !ith lots of instances of your past
trust!orthinessG Did you ma"e them feel guilty because your friendsU parents all let them driveG Did you
!hine until they just !anted you to shut upG Did you loo" up statistics on teen driving and use them to
sho! ho! you didnUt fit the dangerous-driver profileG These are all types of argumentation# and they
exist in academia in similar forms.
'very field has slightly different re-uirements for acceptable evidence# so familiari.e yourself !ith some
arguments from !ithin that field instead of just applying !hatever evidence you li"e best. Pay attention
to your textboo"s and your instructorUs lectures. >hat types of argument and evidence are they usingG
The type of evidence that s!ays an 'nglish instructor may not !or" to convince a sociology instructor.
=ind out !hat counts as proof that something is true in that field. Is it statistics# a logical development of
points# something from the object being discussed $art !or"# text# culture# or atom%# the !ay something
!or"s# or some combination of more than one of these thingsG
e consistent !ith your evidence. Anli"e negotiating for the use of your parentsU car# an extended essay
is not the place for an all-out blit. of every type of argument. Pou can often use more than one type of
evidence !ithin a paper# but ma"e sure that !ithin each section you are providing the reader !ith
evidence appropriate to each claim. /o# if you start a paragraph or section !ith a statement li"e VPutting
the student seating area closer to the bas"etball court !ill raise player performance#V do not follo! !ith
your evidence on ho! much more money the university could raise by letting more students go to games
for free. Information about ho! fan support raises player morale# !hich then results in better play# !ould
be a better follo!-up. Pour next section could offer clear reasons !hy undergraduates have as much or
more right to attend an undergraduate event as !ealthy alumnibut this information !ould not go in the
same section as the fan support stuff. Pou cannot convince a confused person# so "eep things tidy and
?ne !ay to strengthen your argument and sho! that you have a deep understanding of the issue you are
discussing is to anticipate and address counterarguments or objections. y considering !hat someone
!ho disagrees !ith your position might have to say about your argument# you sho! that you have
thought things through# and you dispose of some of the reasons your audience might have for not
accepting your argument.
Pou can generate counterarguments by as"ing yourself ho! someone !ho disagrees !ith you might
respond to each of the points youUve made or your position as a !hole. If you canUt immediately imagine
another position# here are some strategies to try0
Do some research. It may seem to you that no one could possibly disagree !ith the position you
are arguing# but someone probably has. =or example# some people argue that the )merican &ivil
>ar never ended. If you are ma"ing an argument concerning# for example# the outcomes of the
&ivil >ar# you might !ish to see !hat some of these people have to say.
Tal" !ith a friend or !ith your teacher. )nother person may be able to imagine counterarguments
that havenUt occurred to you.
&onsider your conclusion or claim and the premises of your argument and imagine someone !ho
denies each of them. =or example# if you argued V&ats ma"e the best pets. This is because they
are clean and independent#V you might imagine someone saying V&ats do not ma"e the best pets.
They are dirty and needy.V
?nce you have thought up some counterarguments# consider ho! you !ill respond to them!ill you
concede that your opponent has a point but explain !hy your audience should nonetheless accept your
argumentG >ill you reject the counterargument and explain !hy it is mista"enG 'ither !ay# you !ill
!ant to leave your reader !ith a sense that your argument is stronger than opposing arguments.
>hen you are opposing arguments# be charitable. Present each argument fairly and
objectively# rather than trying to ma"e it loo" foolish. Pou !ant to sho! that you have seriously
considered the many sides of the issue and that you are not simply attac"ing or caricaturing your
It is usually better to consider one or t!o serious counterarguments in some depth# rather than to give a
long but superficial list of many different counterarguments and replies.
e sure that your reply is consistent !ith your original argument. If considering a counterargument
changes your position# you !ill need to go bac" and revise your original argument accordingly.
)udience is a very important consideration in argument. ) lifetime of dealing !ith your family members
has helped you figure out !hich arguments !or" best to persuade each of them. 9aybe !hining !or"s
!ith one parent# but the other !ill only accept cold# hard statistics. Pour "id brother may listen only to
the sound of money in his palm. ItUs usually !ise to thin" of your audience in an academic setting as
someone !ho is perfectly smart but !ho doesnUt necessarily agree !ith you. Pou are not just expressing
your opinion in an argument $VItUs true because I said soV%# and in most cases your audience !ill "no!
something about the subject at handso you !ill need sturdy proof. )t the same time# do not thin" of
your audience as clairvoyant. Pou have to come out and state both your claim and your evidence clearly.
Do not assume that because the instructor "no!s the material# he or she understands !hat part of it you
are using# !hat you thin" about it# and !hy you have ta"en the position youUve chosen.
Critical readin(
&ritical reading is a big part of understanding argument. )lthough some of the material you read !ill be
very persuasive# do not fall under the spell of the printed !ord as authority. Mery fe! of your instructors
thin" of the texts they assign as the last !ord on the subject. 7emember that the author of every text has
an agenda# something that he or she !ants you to believe. This is ?(everything is !ritten from
someoneUs perspectivebut itUs a good thing to be a!are of.
Ta"e notes either in the margins of your source $if you are using a photocopy or your o!n boo"% or on a
separate sheet as you read. Put a!ay that highlighterN /imply highlighting a text is good for
the main ideas in that textit does not encourage critical reading. Part of your goal as a reader should be
to put the authorUs ideas in your o!n !ords. Then you can stop thin"ing of these ideas as facts and start
thin"ing of them as arguments.
>hen you read# as" yourself -uestions li"e V>hat is the author trying to proveGV and V>hat is the author
assuming I !ill agree !ithGV Do you agree !ith the authorG Does the author ade-uately defend her
argumentG >hat "ind of proof does she useG Is there something she leaves out that you !ould put inG
Does putting it in hurt her argumentG )s you get used to reading critically# you !ill start to see the
sometimes hidden agendas of other !riters# and you can use this s"ill to improve your o!n ability to
craft effective arguments.
<or1s consulted
)nson# &hris 9. and 7obert ) /ch!egler. 'he 5onman #andboo$ for )riters and 2eaders. 3nd ed.
He! Por"# Bongman# 3,,,.
ooth# >ayne &. 'he Craft of 2esearch. 3
ed. &hicago0 Aniversity of &hicago Press# 3,,4.
'de# Bisa. )or$ in 6roress. He! Por"0 /t. 9artinUs Press# 2;:;.
Lage# Tohn T. 'he &hape of 2eason7 .rumentative )ritin in Collee. He! Por"0 9acmillan
Publishing &ompany# 2;;2.
Bunsford# )ndrea and Tohn 7us."ie!ic.. 8verythin,s an .rument. oston*He! Por"0 edford*/t.
9artinUs# 2;;;.
7osen# Beonard T. and Baurence ehrens. 'he .llyn 9 1acon #andboo$. oston0 )llyn < acon# 2;;8.
<hat this handout is about
This handout !ill explain the functions of introductions# offer strategies for !riting effective ones# help
you chec" your drafted introductions# and provide you !ith examples of introductions to be avoided.
The role of introductions
Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to !rite. Asually !hen you sit
do!n to respond to an assignment# you have at least some sense of !hat you !ant to say in the body of
your paper. Pou might have chosen a fe! examples you !ant to use or have an idea that !ill help you
ans!er the main -uestion of your assignment0 these sections# therefore# are not as hard to !rite. ut
these middle parts of the paper canUt just come out of thin air1 they need to be introduced and concluded
in a !ay that ma"es sense to your reader.
Pour introduction and conclusion act as bridges that transport your readers from their o!n lives into the
VplaceV of your analysis. If your readers pic" up your paper about education in the autobiography of
=rederic" Douglass# for example# they need a transition to help them leave behind their !orld and to
help them temporarily enter the !orld of nineteenth-century )merican slavery. y providing an
introduction that helps your readers ma"e a transition bet!een their o!n !orld and the issues you !ill
be !riting about# you give your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about !hat
you are saying. /imilarly# once youUve hoo"ed your reader !ith the introduction and offered evidence to
prove your thesis# your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers ma"e the transition bac" to
their daily lives.
<hy bother 2ritin( a (ood introductionD
@ou never (et a second chance to ma1e a first im$ression. The opening paragraph of your paper !ill
provide your readers !ith their initial impressions of your argument# your !riting style# and the overall
-uality of your !or". ) vague# disorgani.ed# error-filled# off-the-!all# or boring introduction !ill
probably create a negative impression. ?n the other hand# a concise# engaging# and !ell-!ritten
introduction !ill start your readers off thin"ing highly of you# your analytical s"ills# your !riting# and
your paper. This impression is especially important !hen the audience you are trying to reach $your
instructor% !ill be grading your !or".
@our introduction is an im$ortant road ma$ for the rest of your $a$er. Pour introduction conveys a
lot of information to your readers. Pou can let them "no! !hat your topic is# !hy it is important# and
ho! you plan to proceed !ith your discussion. In most academic disciplines# your introduction should
contain a thesis that !ill assert your main argument. It should also# ideally# give the reader a sense of the
"inds of information you !ill use to ma"e that argument and the general organi.ation of the paragraphs
and pages that !ill follo!. )fter reading your introduction# your readers should not have any major
surprises in store !hen they read the main body of your paper.
+deally0 your introduction 2ill ma1e your readers 2ant to read your $a$er. The introduction should
capture your readersU interest# ma"ing them !ant to read the rest of your paper. ?pening !ith a
compelling story# a fascinating -uotation# an interesting -uestion# or a stirring example can get your
readers to see !hy this topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an interesting
intellectual conversation.
Strate(ies for 2ritin( an effective introduction
Start by thin1in( about the /uestion >or /uestions? you are tryin( to ans2er. Pour entire essay !ill
be a response to this -uestion# and your introduction is the first step to!ard that end. Pour direct ans!er
to the assigned -uestion !ill be your thesis# and your thesis !ill be included in your introduction# so it is
a good idea to use the -uestion as a jumping off point. Imagine that you are assigned the follo!ing
8ducation has lon been considered a ma4or force for .merican social chane, rihtin the "rons of
our society. !ra"in on the (arrative of the 5ife of -rederic$ !oulass, discuss the relationship
bet"een education and slavery in :;th-century .merica. Consider the follo"in7 #o" did "hite control
of education reinforce slavery? #o" did !oulass and other enslaved .frican .mericans vie"
education "hile they endured slavery? .nd "hat role did education play in the acquisition of freedom?
Most importantly, consider the deree to "hich education "as or "as not a ma4or force for social
chane "ith reard to slavery.
Pou !ill probably refer bac" to your assignment extensively as you prepare your complete essay# and the
prompt itself can also give you some clues about ho! to approach the introduction. Hotice that it starts
!ith a broad statement# that education has been considered a major force for social change# and then
narro!s to focus on specific -uestions from the boo". ?ne strategy might be to use a similar model in
your o!n introduction start off !ith a big picture sentence or t!o about the po!er of education as a
force for change as a !ay of getting your reader interested and then focus in on the details of your
argument about Douglass. ?f course# a different approach could also be very successful# but loo"ing at
the !ay the professor set up the -uestion can sometimes give you some ideas for ho! you might ans!er
9ecide ho2 (eneral or broad your o$enin( should be. (eep in mind that even a Vbig pictureV opening
needs to be clearly related to your topic1 an opening sentence that said V@uman beings# more than any
other creatures on earth# are capable of learningV !ould be too broad for our sample assignment about
slavery and education. If you have ever used Loogle 9aps or similar programs# that experience can
provide a helpful !ay of thin"ing about ho! broad your opening should be.
Imagine that youUre researching >ashington D&. If !hat you !ant to find out is !hether >ashington D&
is at roughly the same latitude as 7ome# it might ma"e sense to hit that little VminusV sign on the online
map until it has .oomed all the !ay out and you can see the !hole globe. If youUre trying to figure out
ho! to get from Toronto to ?tta!a# it might ma"e more sense to .oom in to the level !here you can see
most of /outh >estern ?ntario $but not the rest of the !orld# or even the rest of &anada%. The -uestion
you are as"ing determines ho! VbroadV your vie! should be. In the sample assignment above# the
-uestions are probably at the VstateV or VcityV level of generality. ut the introductory sentence about
human beings is mismatcheditUs definitely at the VglobalV level. >hen !riting# you need to place your
ideas in contextbut that context doesnUt generally have to be as big as the !hole galaxyN
Try 2ritin( your introduction last. Pou may thin" that you have to !rite your introduction first# but
that isnUt necessarily true# and it isnUt al!ays the most effective !ay to craft a good introduction. Pou
may find that you donUt "no! !hat you are going to argue at the beginning of the !riting process# and
only through the experience of !riting your paper do you discover your main argument. It is perfectly
fine to start out thin"ing that you !ant to argue a particular point# but !ind up arguing something
slightly or even dramatically different by the time youUve !ritten most of the paper. The !riting process
can be an important !ay to organi.e your ideas# thin" through complicated issues# refine your thoughts#
and develop a sophisticated argument. @o!ever# an introduction !ritten at the beginning of that
discovery process !ill not necessarily reflect !hat you !ind up !ith at the end. Pou !ill need to revise
your paper to ma"e sure that the introduction# all of the evidence# and the conclusion reflect the
argument you intend. /ometimes itUs easiest to just !rite up all of your evidence first and then !rite the
introduction lastthat !ay you can be sure that the introduction !ill match the body of the paper.
9onFt be afraid to 2rite a tentative introduction first and then chan(e it later. /ome people find that
they need to !rite some "ind of introduction in order to get the !riting process started. ThatUs fine# but if
you are one of those people# be sure to return to your initial introduction later and re!rite if necessary.
-$en 2ith an attention (rabber. /ometimes# especially if the topic of your paper is some!hat dry or
technical# opening !ith something catchy can help. &onsider these options0
2. an intriguing example $for example# the mistress !ho initially teaches Douglass but then ceases
her instruction as she learns more about slavery%
3. a provocative -uotation $Douglass !rites that Veducation and slavery !ere incompatible !ith
each otherV%
4. a pu..ling scenario $=rederic" Douglass says of slaves that VWHXothing has been left undone to
cripple their intellects# dar"en their minds# debase their moral nature# obliterate all traces of their
relationship to man"ind1 and yet ho! !onderfully they have sustained the mighty load of a most
frightful bondage# under !hich they have been groaning for centuriesNV Douglass clearly asserts
that slave o!ners !ent to great lengths to destroy the mental capacities of slaves# yet his o!n life
story proves that these efforts could be unsuccessful.%
+. a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote $for example# VBearning about slavery in the )merican
history course at =rederic" Douglass @igh /chool# students studied the !or" slaves did# the
impact of slavery on their families# and the rules that governed their lives. >e didnUt discuss
education# ho!ever# until one student# 9ary# raised her hand and as"ed# Uut !hen did they go to
schoolGU That modern high school students could not conceive of an )merican childhood devoid
of formal education spea"s volumes about the centrality of education to )merican youth today
and also suggests the significance of the deprivation of education in past generations.V%
5. a thought-provo"ing -uestion $given all of the freedoms that !ere denied enslaved individuals in
the )merican /outh# !hy does =rederic" Douglass focus his attentions so s-uarely on education
and literacyG%
4ay s$ecial attention to your first sentence. /tart off on the right foot !ith your readers by ma"ing
sure that the first sentence actually says something useful and that it does so in an interesting and error-
free !ay.
,e strai(htfor2ard and confident. )void statements li"e VIn this paper# I !ill argue that =rederic"
Douglass valued education.V >hile this sentence points to!ard your main argument# it isnUt especially
interesting. It might be more effective to say !hat you mean in a declarative sentence. It is much more
convincing to tell us that V=rederic" Douglass valued educationV than to tell us that you are going to say
that he did. )ssert your main argument confidently. )fter all# you canUt expect your reader to believe it if
it doesnUt sound li"e you believe itN
:o2 to evaluate your introduction draft
)s" a friend to read it and then tell you !hat he or she expects the paper !ill discuss# !hat "inds of
evidence the paper !ill use# and !hat the tone of the paper !ill be. If your friend is able to predict the
rest of your paper accurately# you probably have a good introduction.
Five 1inds of less effective introductions
1. The $lace holder introduction. >hen you donUt have much to say on a given topic# it is easy to
create this "ind of introduction. 'ssentially# this "ind of !ea"er introduction contains several sentences
that are vague and donUt really say much. They exist just to ta"e up the Vintroduction spaceV in your
paper. If you had something more effective to say# you !ould probably say it# but in the meantime this
paragraph is just a place holder.
8/ample7 &lavery "as one of the reatest traedies in .merican history. 'here "ere many different
aspects of slavery. 8ach created different $inds of problems for enslaved people.
&. The restated /uestion introduction. 7estating the -uestion can sometimes be an effective strategy#
but it can be easy to stop at TA/T restating the -uestion instead of offering a more specific# interesting
introduction to your paper. The professor or teaching assistant !rote your -uestions and !ill be reading
ten to seventy essays in response to themhe or she does not need to read a !hole paragraph that
simply restates the -uestion. Try to do something more interesting.
8/ample7 Indeed, education has lon been considered a ma4or force for .merican social chane,
rihtin the "rons of our society. 'he (arrative of the 5ife of -rederic$ !oulass discusses the
relationship bet"een education and slavery in :;th century .merica, sho"in ho" "hite control of
education reinforced slavery and ho" !oulass and other enslaved .frican .mericans vie"ed
education "hile they endured. Moreover, the boo$ discusses the role that education played in the
acquisition of freedom. 8ducation "as a ma4or force for social chane "ith reard to slavery.
. The <ebsterFs 9ictionary introduction. This introduction begins by giving the dictionary definition
of one or more of the !ords in the assigned -uestion. This introduction strategy is on the right trac"if
you !rite one of these# you may be trying to establish the important terms of the discussion# and this
move builds a bridge to the reader by offering a common# agreed-upon definition for a "ey idea. Pou
may also be loo"ing for an authority that !ill lend credibility to your paper. @o!ever# anyone can loo" a
!ord up in the dictionary and copy do!n !hat >ebster saysit may be far more interesting for you
$and your reader% if you develop your o!n definition of the term in the specific context of your class and
assignment# or if you use a definition from one of the sources youUve been reading for class. )lso
recogni.e that the dictionary is also not a particularly authoritative !or"it doesnUt ta"e into account
the context of your course and doesnUt offer particularly detailed information. If you feel that you must
see" out an authority# try to find one that is very relevant and specific. Perhaps a -uotation from a source
reading might prove betterG Dictionary introductions are also ineffective simply because they are so
overused. 9any graders !ill see t!enty or more papers that begin in this !ay# greatly decreasing the
dramatic impact that any one of those papers !ill have.
8/ample7 )ebster,s dictionary defines slavery as %the state of bein a slave,% as %the practice of o"nin
slaves,% and as %a condition of hard "or$ and sub4ection.%
4. The Hda2n of manH introduction. This "ind of introduction generally ma"es broad# s!eeping
statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time. It is usually very general
$similar to the place holder introduction% and fails to connect to the thesis. Pou may !rite this "ind of
introduction !hen you donUt have much to say!hich is precisely !hy it is ineffective.
8/ample7 &ince the da"n of man, slavery has been a problem in human history.
!. The boo1 re$ort introduction. This introduction is !hat you had to do for your elementary school
boo" reports. It gives the name and author of the boo" you are !riting about# tells !hat the boo" is
about# and offers other basic facts about the boo". Pou might resort to this sort of introduction !hen you
are trying to fill space because itUs a familiar# comfortable format. It is ineffective because it offers
details that your reader already "no!s and that are irrelevant to the thesis.
8/ample7 -rederic$ !oulass "rote his autobioraphy, (arrative of the 5ife of -rederic$ !oulass, .n
.merican &lave, in the :<=>s. It "as published in :;<? by 6enuin 1oo$s. In it, he tells the story of his
<or1s consulted
)ll -uotations are from =rederic" Douglass# (arrative of the 5ife of -rederic$ !oulass, .n .merican
&lave# edited and !ith introduction by @ouston ). a"er# Tr.# He! Por"0 Penguin oo"s# 2;:6.
4ara(ra$h 9evelo$ment
<hat this handout is about
This handout !ill help you understand ho! paragraphs are formed# ho! to develop stronger paragraphs#
and ho! to completely and clearly express your ideas.
<hat is a $ara(ra$hD
Paragraphs are the building bloc"s of papers. 9any students define paragraphs in terms of length0 a
paragraph is a group of at least five sentences1 a paragraph is half a page long# etc. In reality# though# the
unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is !hat constitutes a paragraph. ) paragraph is defined as
Va group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unitV $Bunsford and &onnors 226%. Bength and
appearance do not determine !hether a section in a paper is a paragraph. =or instance# in some styles of
!riting# particularly journalistic styles# a paragraph can be just one sentence long. Altimately# a
paragraph is a sentence or group of sentences that support one main idea. In this handout# !e !ill refer
to this as the Vcontrolling idea#V because it controls !hat happens in the rest of the paragraph.
:o2 do + decide 2hat to $ut in a $ara(ra$hD
efore you can begin to determine !hat the composition of a particular paragraph !ill be# you must first
decide on a !or"ing thesis for your paper. >hat is the most important idea that you are trying to convey
to your readerG The information in each paragraph must be related to that idea. In other !ords# your
paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship bet!een your thesis and the
information in each paragraph. ) !or"ing thesis functions li"e a seed from !hich your paper# and your
ideas# !ill gro!. The !hole process is an organic onea natural progression from a seed to a full-blo!n
paper !here there are direct# familial relationships bet!een all of the ideas in the paper.
The decision about !hat to put into your paragraphs begins !ith the germination of a seed of ideas1 this
Vgermination processV is better "no!n as brainstorming. There are many techni-ues for brainstorming1
!hichever one you choose# this stage of paragraph development cannot be s"ipped. uilding paragraphs
can be li"e building a s"yscraper0 there must be a !ell-planned foundation that supports !hat you are
building. )ny crac"s# inconsistencies# or other corruptions of the foundation can cause your !hole paper
to crumble.
/o# letUs suppose that you have done some brainstorming to develop your thesis. >hat else should you
"eep in mind as you begin to create paragraphsG 'very paragraph in a paper should be
Enified)ll of the sentences in a single paragraph should be related to a single controlling idea
$often expressed in the topic sentence of the paragraph%.
Clearly related to the thesisThe sentences should all refer to the central idea# or thesis# of the
paper $7osen and ehrens 22;%.
CoherentThe sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follo! a definite
plan for development $7osen and ehrens 22;%.
<ell8develo$ed'very idea discussed in the paragraph should be ade-uately explained and
supported through evidence and details that !or" together to explain the paragraphUs controlling
idea $7osen and ehrens 22;%.
:o2 do + or(ani3e a $ara(ra$hD
There are many different !ays to organi.e a paragraph. The organi.ation you choose !ill depend on the
controlling idea of the paragraph. elo! are a fe! possibilities for organi.ation# !ith brief examples.
*arration5 Tell a story. Lo chronologically# from start to finish.
9escri$tion5 Provide specific details about !hat something loo"s# smells# tastes# sounds# or feels
li"e. ?rgani.e spatially# in order of appearance# or by topic.
4rocess5 'xplain ho! something !or"s# step by step. Perhaps follo! a se-uencefirst# second#
Classification5 /eparate into groups or explain the various parts of a topic.
+llustration5 Live examples and explain ho! those examples prove your point.
!8ste$ $rocess to $ara(ra$h develo$ment
BetUs !al" through a 5-step process to building a paragraph. 'ach step of the process !ill include
an explanation of the step and a bit of VmodelV text to illustrate ho! the step !or"s. ?ur finished
model paragraph !ill be about slave spirituals# the original songs that )frican )mericans created
during slavery. The model paragraph uses illustration $giving examples% to prove its point.
Ste$ 1. 9ecide on a controllin( idea and create a to$ic sentence
Paragraph development begins !ith the formulation of the controlling idea. This idea directs the
paragraphUs development. ?ften# the controlling idea of a paragraph !ill appear in the form of a
topic sentence. In some cases# you may need more than one sentence to express a paragraphUs
controlling idea. @ere is the controlling idea for our Vmodel paragraph#V expressed in a topic
.odel controllin( idea and to$ic sentence &lave spirituals often had hidden double
Ste$ &. Ex$lain the controllin( idea
o Paragraph development continues !ith an expression of the rationale or the explanation
that the !riter gives for ho! the reader should interpret the information presented in the
idea statement or topic sentence of the paragraph. The !riter explains his*her thin"ing
about the main topic# idea# or focus of the paragraph. @ereUs the sentence that !ould
follo! the controlling idea about slave spirituals0
.odel ex$lanation@n one level, spirituals referenced heaven, Aesus, and the soulB but on
another level, the sons spo$e about slave resistance.
Ste$ . Give an exam$le >or multi$le exam$les?
o Paragraph development progresses !ith the expression of some type of support or
evidence for the idea and the explanation that came before it. The example serves as a
sign or representation of the relationship established in the idea and explanation portions
of the paragraph. @ere are t!o examples that !e could use to illustrate the double
meanings in slave spirituals0
.odel exam$le A -or e/ample, accordin to -rederic$ !oulass, the son %@ Canaan,
&"eet Canaan% spo$e of slaves, lonin for heaven, but it also e/pressed their desire to escape to
the (orth. Careful listeners heard this second meanin in the follo"in lyrics7 %I don,t e/pect to
stay C Much loner here. C 2un to Aesus, shun the daner. C I don,t e/pect to stay.%
.odel exam$le , &laves even used sons li$e %&teal ."ay to Aesus (at midniht)% to
announce to other slaves the time and place of secret, forbidden meetins.
Ste$ 4. Ex$lain the exam$le>s?
The next movement in paragraph development is an explanation of each example and its
relevance to the topic sentence and rationale that !ere stated at the beginning of the paragraph.
This explanation sho!s readers !hy you chose to use this*or these particular examples as
evidence to support the major claim# or focus# in your paragraph.
&ontinue the pattern of giving examples and explaining them until all points*examples that the
!riter deems necessary have been made and explained. H?H' of your examples should be left
unexplained. Pou might be able to explain the relationship bet!een the example and the topic
sentence in the same sentence !hich introduced the example. 9ore often# ho!ever# you !ill
need to explain that relationship in a separate sentence. Boo" at these explanations for the t!o
examples in the slave spirituals paragraph0
.odel ex$lanation for exam$le A )hen slaves san this son, they could have been
spea$in of their departure from this life and their arrival in heavenB ho"ever, they also could
have been describin their plans to leave the &outh and run, not to Aesus, but to the (orth.
.odel ex$lanation for exam$le ,D'he relationship bet"een e/ample 1 and the main idea of
the pararaph,s controllin idea is clear enouh "ithout addin another sentence to e/plain it.E
Ste$ !. Com$lete the $ara(ra$hFs idea or transition into the next $ara(ra$h
The final movement in paragraph development involves tying up the loose ends of the paragraph
and reminding the reader of the relevance of the information in this paragraph to the main or
controlling idea of the paper. )t this point# you can remind your reader about the relevance of the
information that you just discussed in the paragraph. Pou might feel more comfortable# ho!ever#
simply transitioning your reader to the next development in the next paragraph. @ereUs an
example of a sentence that completes the slave spirituals paragraph0
.odel sentence for com$letin( a $ara(ra$h )hat "hites heard as merely spiritual sons,
slaves discerned as detailed messaes. 'he hidden meanins in spirituals allo"ed slaves to sin
"hat they could not say.
Notice that the example and explanation steps of this 5-step process (steps and !" can #e
repeated as needed. $he idea is that you continue to use this pattern until you have completely
developed the main idea of the para%raph.
:ere is a loo1 at the com$leted HmodelH $ara(ra$h5
&lave spirituals often had hidden double meanins. @n one level, spirituals referenced
heaven, Aesus, and the soul, but on another level, the sons spo$e about slave resistance.
-or e/ample, accordin to -rederic$ !oulass, the son %@ Canaan, &"eet Canaan%
spo$e of slaves, lonin for heaven, but it also e/pressed their desire to escape to the
(orth. Careful listeners heard this second meanin in the follo"in lyrics7 %I don,t e/pect
to stay C Much loner here. C 2un to Aesus, shun the daner. C I don,t e/pect to stay.% )hen
slaves san this son, they could have been spea$in of their departure from this life and
their arrival in heavenB ho"ever, they also could have been describin their plans to
leave the &outh and run, not to Aesus, but to the (orth. &laves even used sons li$e %&teal
."ay to Aesus (at midniht)% to announce to other slaves the time and place of secret,
forbidden meetins. )hat "hites heard as merely spiritual sons, slaves discerned as
detailed messaes. 'he hidden meanins in spirituals allo"ed slaves to sin "hat they
could not say.
Troubleshootin( $ara(ra$hs
1? 4roblem5 the $ara(ra$h has no to$ic sentence. Imagine each paragraph as a sand!ich. The
real content of the sand!ichthe meat or other fillingis in the middle. In includes all the
evidence you need to ma"e the point. ut it gets "ind of messy to eat a sand!ich !ithout any
bread. Pour readers donUt "no! !hat to do !ith all the evidence youUve given them. /o# the top
slice of bread $the first sentence of the paragraph% explains the topic $or controlling idea% of the
paragraph. )nd# the bottom slice $the last sentence of the paragraph% tells the reader ho! the
paragraph relates to the broader argument. In the original and revised paragraphs belo!# notice
ho! a topic sentence expressing the controlling idea tells the reader the point of all the evidence.
-ri(inal $ara(ra$h
6iranhas rarely feed on lare animalsB they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. )hen
confronted "ith humans, piranhas, first instinct is to flee, not attac$. 'heir fear of
humans ma$es sense. -ar more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by
piranhas. If the fish are "ell-fed, they "on,t bite humans.
)evised $ara(ra$h
.lthouh most people consider piranhas to be quite danerous, they are, for the most
part, entirely harmless. 6iranhas rarely feed on lare animalsB they eat smaller fish and
aquatic plants. )hen confronted "ith humans, piranhas, first instinct is to flee, not
attac$. 'heir fear of humans ma$es sense. -ar more piranhas are eaten by people than
people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are "ell-fed, they "on,t bite humans.
?nce you have mastered the use of topic sentences# you may decide that the topic sentence for a
particular paragraph really shouldnUt be the first sentence of the paragraph. This is finethe topic
sentence can actually go at the beginning# middle# or end of a paragraph1 !hatUs important is that
it is in there some!here so that readers "no! !hat the main idea of the paragraph is and ho! it
relates bac" to the thesis of your paper. /uppose that !e !anted to start the piranha paragraph
!ith a transition sentencesomething that reminds the reader of !hat happened in the previous
paragraphrather than !ith the topic sentence. BetUs suppose that the previous paragraph !as
about all "inds of animals that people are afraid of# li"e shar"s# sna"es# and spiders. ?ur
paragraph might loo" li"e this $the topic sentence is underlined%0
5i$e shar$s, sna$es, and spiders, pirahnas are "idely feared. .lthouh most people consider
piranhas to be quite danerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. 6iranhas rarely
feed on lare animalsB they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. )hen confronted "ith humans,
piranhas, first instinct is to flee, not attac$. 'heir fear of humans ma$es sense. -ar more
piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are "ell-fed, they
"on,t bite humans.
&? 4roblem5 the $ara(ra$h has more than one controllin( idea. If a paragraph has more than
one main idea# consider eliminating sentences that relate to the second idea# or split the
paragraph into t!o or more paragraphs# each !ith only one main idea. In the follo!ing
paragraph# the final t!o sentences branch off into a different topic1 so# the revised paragraph
eliminates them and concludes !ith a sentence that reminds the reader of the paragraphUs main
-ri(inal $ara(ra$h
.lthouh most people consider piranhas to be quite danerous, they are, for the most
part, entirely harmless. 6iranhas rarely feed on lare animalsB they eat smaller fish and
aquatic plants. )hen confronted "ith humans, piranhas, first instinct is to flee, not
attac$. 'heir fear of humans ma$es sense. -ar more piranhas are eaten by people than
people are eaten by piranhas. . number of &outh .merican roups eat piranhas. 'hey fry
or rill the fish and then serve them "ith coconut mil$ or tucupi, a sauce made from
fermented manioc 4uices.
)evised $ara(ra$h
.lthouh most people consider piranhas to be quite danerous, they are, for the most
part, entirely harmless. 6iranhas rarely feed on lare animalsB they eat smaller fish and
aquatic plants. )hen confronted "ith humans, piranhas, first instinct is to flee, not
attac$. 'heir fear of humans ma$es sense. -ar more piranhas are eaten by people than
people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are "ell-fed, they "on,t bite humans.
? 4roblem5 transitions are needed 2ithin the $ara(ra$h. Pou are probably familiar
!ith the idea that transitions may be needed bet!een paragraphs or sections in a paper.
/ometimes they are also helpful !ithin the body of a single paragraph. >ithin a
paragraph# transitions are often single !ords or short phrases that help to establish
relationships bet!een ideas and to create a logical progression of those ideas in a
paragraph. This is especially li"ely to be true !ithin paragraphs that discuss multiple
examples. BetUs ta"e a loo" at a version of our piranha paragraph that uses transitions to
orient the reader0
.lthouh most people consider piranhas to be quite danerous, they are, e/cept in t"o
main situations, entirely harmless. 6iranhas rarely feed on lare animalsB they eat
smaller fish and aquatic plants. )hen confronted "ith humans, piranhas, instinct is to
flee, not attac$. 1ut there are t"o situations in "hich a piranha bite is li$ely. 'he first is
"hen a frihtened piranha is lifted out of the "ater+for e/ample, if it has been cauht in
a fishin net. 'he second is "hen the "ater level in pools "here piranhas are livin falls
too lo". . lare number of fish may be trapped in a sinle pool, and if they are hunry,
they may attac$ anythin that enters the "ater.
In this example# you can see ho! the phrases Vthe firstV and Vthe secondV help the reader
follo! the organi.ation of the ideas in the paragraph.
<or1s consulted
Bunsford# )ndrea and 7obert &ollins. 'he &t. Martin,s #andboo$, .nnotated Instructor,s
8dition. 5th 'd. He! Por"0 /t. 9artinUs# 3,,4.
7osen# Beonard and Baurence ehrens. 'he .llyn and 1acon #andboo$, .nnotated
Instructor,s 8dition. +th 'd. oston0 )llyn and acon# 3,,,.
Evaluatin( 4rint Sources
<hat this handout is about
This handout !ill discuss strategies to evaluate secondary printed sourcesboo"s# journal articles#
maga.ines# etc.based on three criteria0 objectivity# authority# and applicability to your particular
assignment. Printed sources# !hether primary or secondary# provide the evidence for most of the
academic essays you !ill !rite in college. Hon-print sources# such as !eb pages# !or"s of art
$performance and fine%# and intervie!s often provide significant source material for analysis but are not
covered in this handout.
>hile you may associate research papers !ith history# the study of most disciplines involves the
collection and interpretation of data !ith the intent of ma"ing and supporting an argument. To do this#
you must use some printed texts# !hether they are primary documents or secondary sources that analy.e
primary sources.
If you have never !ritten a research paper at the level of an extended essay# the process may appear
daunting. The first step# of course# is to develop a topic that investigates a problem important to your
/o you come up !ith a good idea and head to the library to begin research. ) university library is a great
place to start !ith millions of boo"s and journals. >hich ones are useful to your studyG >hat if the
information they present is false# outdated# or biased to the point of inaccuracyG @o! can you tellG This
handout !ill help ans!er these -uestions.
7esearchers approach an unfamiliar source and as" -uestions of it !ith the intention of discovering clues
that !ill tell them if they can trust the source and if it can add anything to the argument. The steps that
are outlined belo! may appear dra!n-out and perfunctory to some1 each step is outlined in detail so that
both novice and advanced researchers can benefit. It !ill help you approach your sources more carefully
and critically.
4rimary and secondary sources
This handout !ill focus on ho! to evaluate secondary sources# but the critical s"ills you learn here !ill
help in primary sources too. efore !e can get to secondary sources# !e need to differentiate
primary from secondary sources. Primary sources come in various shapes and and often you have
to do a little bit of research about the source to ma"e sure you have correctly identified it.
In a nutshell# a primary source !as produced at the same time that the events described in the source
too" place. /ound easyG In most cases it is. @ere are some examples and problem areas0
9iaries and letters !ritten by people !ho !ere participants in the actions they describe are easy to
classify as primary sources# but !hat about memoirs or autobio(ra$hiesG These are usually !ritten
!ell after the events too" place and often !ill tell you more about the period in !hich they !ere !ritten
than about the period they describe.
>hat about ne2s$a$ersG The author of an article presents an interpretation# but if the article reports
current events# it is primary. If the article reports past events# it is secondary. (eep in mind that an article
about a past event can present valuable primary evidence concerning the authorUs context.
>hat about fictionG If you are studying the novel or poem for its o!n sa"e# it is a primary source. If you
are using the novel or poem as evidencea historical novel# for exampleit is a secondary source. In
the same vein# a 2;th-century history textboo1 can be considered a primary source if you are studying
ho! the !or" !as influenced by the period in !hich it !as !ritten or ho! it fits into a continuum of
historical analysis $that is called historiography%.
&hec" out this table to help differentiate primary and secondary sources.
4rimary Secondary
'he 'empest by >illiam
)n article that the motif of the
Usavage otherU in 'he 'empest.
'he !iary of .nne -ran$ ) boo" about the @olocaust
The Declaration of Independence ) biography of Thomas Tefferson
Population statistics on 'thiopia
from 'he )orld -actboo$
)n article titled VThe impact of population
gro!th on infant mortality in 'thiopia.V
/econdary sources !ill inform most of your !riting in college. Pou !ill often be as"ed to research your
topic using primary sources# but secondary sources !ill tell you !hich primary sources you should use
and !ill help you interpret those primary sources. To use them !ell# ho!ever# you need to thin"
critically about them.
There are t!o parts of a source that you need to analy.e0 the text itself and the argument !ithin the text.
Evaluatin( the text
Pou evaluate a text to determine the objectivity of the author and the credibility of the !or". Do not
assume that your sole motive or goal is to eliminate sources. >hile this may be a conse-uence of your
analysis# your goal should be to understand the context of the !or" so you can assess ho! it can inform
your argument. To do this# you must analy.e the text according to three criteria0 the author# the publisher#
and the date of publication.
7emember bac" at the beginning of this handout I !rote that critically sources is all about
as"ing -uestionsG >ell# here is !here you sho! off that s"ill. The next time you pic" up a boo" in the
library# loo" at the authorUs name. @ave you heard of herG Do you "no! if he is cited in other boo"s on
the subjectG @as your instructor mentioned the authorUs nameG Is she affiliated !ith a university $!hich
may or may not add to her authority%G Does the author ac"no!ledge an organi.ational affiliationG The
ac"no!ledgements and preface are good places to get the ans!ers to most of these -uestions.
The -uestions you !ill as" about the publisher are similar to those as"ed about the author. Boo" in the
first fe! pages of the boo" for the copyright and publisher information. Did a university pressfor
example# A> Press# AT Presspublish the textG Did a popular pressTones and artlett# @arcourt#
race# Tovanovichpublish itG Pou can be relatively sure that if a university press published the boo"# it
has been held to a high academic standard. Popular presses differ in their standards. Pou may have to
loo" at other aspects of the boo" $see belo! for tips on identifying tone and audience% or loo" at other
boo"s produced by the same publisher to judge the credibility of the text. 7emember# you are not
loo"ing for !ays to exclude !or"s. 7ather# you are trying to understand the context in !hich the boo"
!as !ritten so you can better analy.e its content.
9ate of 4ublication
If you are researching a current issue# it stands to reason that you !ant the most up-to-date sources you
can find. If your topic is not so current# it is often acceptable to go bac" ten or even t!enty years for
your sources. If there is a more recent boo" on the same topic# ma"e sure that you loo" at it. 9aybe the
author found ne! evidence that drastically alters the argument of the first boo". The age of a !or" can
be easy to determine# but it is sometimes tric"y. The page that has the entire publisherUs information has
a copyright date. @as the !or" been translatedG If so# that date is probably the date of the translation. Is
there more than one date listed on the pageG In that case# you probably have a ne!er edition. If so# the
author !rote most of the boo" at the time of the first date of publication# although ne! information may
have been added since then.
)fter the text# you may find some bias. That does not mean you should discard it. Perhaps the
author than"s an anti-homosexual religious organi.ation for funding his research on same-sex marriages.
Pou may be tempted to toss the boo" aside because you feel that a biased !or" !ill not provide the
Ufacts.U ut you may be missing out on some good evidence. Ho secondary !or" is going to give you the
Ufacts.U /econdary sources provide interpretations of primary data. 'very interpretation is influenced by
the authorUs context. =ind out !here the author is coming from and use the evidence accordingly. =or
example# the boo" about same-sex marriages funded by the /outhern aptist &onvention may provide a
clear presentation of the conservative side of the issue. Paired !ith a boo" that provides a liberal
interpretation# the conservative boo" may provide valuable information about the various positions
!ithin the discussion.
Evaluatin( an ar(ument
) the author# publisher# and age of the text provides a good place to start your analysis. Pou
should not stop there# ho!ever. Pou have to move beyond the appraisal of the text and begin to analy.e
the content. To do this# you can use the same techni-ue of as"ing -uestions and searching for responses.
Is the !or" applicable to your studyG The first place to loo" for ans!ers is the table of contents. ) boo"
can have a great title but then can be full of tangential ideas or ta"e an approach that simply may not add
to your study. The next place to chec" out is the index. The index is a !onderful resource for
researchers. Pou can use it to -uic"ly jump to particular passages if your topic is !ell defined. 9ore
often# youUll scan the index to get a feel for the authority and scope of the text. ?ften you can learn most
of !hat a boo" can tell you by reading the preface and the introduction and scanning the table of
contents and index.
) the argument gets to the heart of a critical approach to your sources. >hile this tas" may
seem daunting at first# here are some tips and techni-ues you can learn to ma"e it a lot easier.
Is the information supported by evidenceG Ta"e a good loo" at the footnotes or endnotes.
>hat "inds of sources did the author useG Does the bibliography mention the important
boo"s in the fieldG
>hat is the major claim or thesis of the boo" or articleG Is it clear !hat the author is
trying to proveG
>hat are the primary assumptions on !hich the author bases the argumentUs main claimG
Do you agree !ith those assumptionsG Is the author ta"ing too much liberty in ma"ing
those assumptionsG
&hec" out the oo" 7evie! Index in the 7eference section of the library. 7ead !hat
other scholars have !ritten about this boo". )re the revie!s generally positiveG Do they
consider the boo" useful or important to the fieldG This is not considered cheating. ?n the
contrary# it !ill enable you to read the boo" !ith your eyes open# so to spea".
)n analysis of the audience can tell you a lot about ho! much authority a boo" or article can claim.
9ost of !hat you uncovered in your analysis of the text !ill inform your judgment of the intended
audience. Pou can find out more by loo"ing at ho! the boo" is !ritten and !hat type of format it is
!ritten in. Is the !or" full of technical terms or graphsG Then the audience may be academic. Is the
language very simple !ith lots of picturesG Then the audience may be a younger cro!d# or the boo" may
be intended for light reading. If you are reading a ne!spaper or maga.ine# loo" at the advertisements.
>ho does the publisher hope !ill read the sourceG )n advertisement for Bexus automobiles or Tohnny
>al"er 7ed scotch in VHe!s!ee"V may indicate a !ealthy# educated $and possibly male% audience. )n
advertisement in VPeopleV for Tommy @ilfiger or Pepsi may indicate a different audience.
The tone of a boo" is ho! the author represents himself or herself through language. /trong and
impassioned language may indicate to you that the author is too emotionally connected to the !or" to
provide an objective analysis. 9ost academic authors try to appear impartial in their !riting by al!ays
!riting in the third person and staying a!ay from loaded adjectives. @ere are some -uestions you can
as" about the authorUs tone0
Does the authorUs language seem impartial to youG )re !ild claims madeG Is a lot of
emotional language usedG
Does the author remain focused on the argumentG Does he or she jump from point to
point !ithout completing any thoughtsG
Does the author seem objectiveG Does the information appear to be propaganda to youG Is
a specific agenda put forth through the selection of data or the manipulation of evidenceG
7emember# finding a bias does not necessarily mean you should discard the boo". Ta"e it
in stride and use it accordingly.
)ns!ers to all the -uestions posed above !ill help you determine !hether you can accept a source as an
authority. &an you trust itG >hat can you trust about itG There is no easy !ay to ans!er that -uestion#
but by carefully approaching both the text and the argument you can feel more confident about the
Follo2in( the trail
It may happen that you come up !ith a topic and go to the library to find sources. Pou sit do!n !ith ten
boo"s that you gleaned from a "ey!ord search on the libraryUs online catalogue. Pou put all ten boo"s
through the critical analysis steps outlined above# and only one fits all your criteria. >hat do you do
no!G Lo bac" to the library catalogueG ro!se the shelves near !here you found the first tenG Those
methods may !or"# but a -uic"er !ay is to follo! the trail of sources in the one boo" you have decided
to use. Boo" at the footnotes and bibliography. Hote titles that the author relies on or refers to as pillars
of the discipline. Then loo" up those boo" or articles in the library catalogue and begin the critical
analysis process all over again. This time# ho!ever# you "no! !hat one author thin"s about the boo"# so
it already has achieved a level of authority or importance. =ollo!ing the trail from one boo" or article to
others can lead to an understanding of the entire structure of the literature on a particular topic.
A$$ly 2hat youFve learned
Ho! that you "no! the "ey terms and !hat -uestions to as"# put your ne!found "no!ledge to the test.
>hat -uestions !ould you as" of this handoutG
Is the author an authorityG
Is the author biasedG
&an I learn anything from this handoutG
<or1s consulted
ooth# >ayne &.# et al. The &raft of 7esearch. &hicago0 Aniversity of &hicago Press# 3,,4.
'de# Bisa. >or" in Progress0 ) Luide to )cademic >riting and 7evising. oston0 edford*/t. 9artins#
VThere are lies# damned lies# and statistics.V
9ar" T!ain
<hat this handout is about
The purpose of this handout is to help you use statistics to ma"e your argument as effectively as
Humbers are po!er. )pparently freed of all the s-uishiness and ambiguity of !ords# numbers and
statistics are po!erful pieces of evidence that can effectively strengthen any argument. ut statistics are
not a panacea. )s simple and straightfor!ard as these little numbers promise to be# statistics# if not used
carefully# can create more problems than they solve.
9any !riters lac" a firm grasp of the statistics they are using. The average reader does not "no! ho! to
properly evaluate and interpret the statistics he or she reads. The main reason behind the poor use of
statistics is a lac" of understanding about !hat statistics can and cannot do. 9any people thin" that
statistics can spea" for themselves. ut numbers are as ambiguous as !ords and need just as much
In many !ays# this problem is -uite similar to that experienced !ith direct -uotes. Too often# -uotes are
expected to do all the !or"1 are treated as part of the argument# rather than a piece of evidence re-uiring
interpretation. ut if you leave the interpretation up to the reader# !ho "no!s !hat sort of off-the-!all
interpretations may resultG The only !ay to avoid this danger is to supply the interpretation yourself.
ut before !e start !riting statistics# letUs actually read a fe!.
)eadin( statistics
)s stated before# numbers are po!erful. This is one of the reasons !hy statistics can be such persuasive
pieces of evidence. @o!ever# this same po!er can also ma"e numbers and statistics intimidating. That
is# !e too often accept them as gospel# !ithout ever -uestioning their veracity or appropriateness. >hile
this may seem li"e a positive trait !hen you plug them into your paper and pray for your reader to
submit to their po!er# remember that before !e are !riters of statistics# !e are readers. )nd to be
effective readers means as"ing the hard -uestions. elo! you !ill find a useful set of hard -uestions to
as" of the numbers you find.
1. 9oes your evidence come from reliable sourcesD
This is an important -uestion not only !ith statistics# but !ith any evidence you use in your papers. )s
!e !ill see in this handout# there are many !ays statistics can be played !ith and misrepresented in
order to produce a desired outcome. Therefore# you !ant to ta"e your statistics from reliable sources.
This is not to say that reliable sources are infallible# but only that they are probably less li"ely to use
deceptive practices. >ith a credible source# you may not need to !orry as much about the -uestions that
follo!. /till# remember that reading statistics is a bit li"e being in the middle of a !ar0 trust no one1
suspect everyone.
&. <hat is the dataFs bac1(roundD
Data and statistics do not just fall from heaven fully formed. They are al!ays the product of research.
Therefore# to understand the statistics# you should also "no! !here they come from. =or example# if the
statistics come from a survey or poll# some -uestions to as" include0
>ho as"ed the -uestions in the survey*pollG
>hat# exactly# !ere the -uestionsG
>ho interpreted the dataG
>hat issue prompted the survey*pollG
>hat $policy*procedure% potentially hinges on the results of the pollG
>ho stands to gain from particular interpretations of the dataG
)ll these -uestions are a !ay of orienting yourself to!ard possible biases or !ea"nesses in the data you
are reading. The goal of this exercise is not to find Vpure# objectiveV data but to ma"e any biases explicit#
in order to more accurately interpret the evidence.
. Are all data re$ortedD
In most cases# the ans!er to this -uestion is easy0 no# they arenUt. Therefore# a better !ay to thin" about
this issue is to as" !hether all data have been presented in context. ut it is much more complicated
!hen you consider the bigger issue# !hich is !hether the text or source presents enough evidence for
you to dra! your o!n conclusion. ) reliable source should not exclude data that contradicts or !ea"ens
the information presented.
)n example can be found on the evening ne!s. If you thin" about ice storms# !hich ma"e life so
difficult in the !inter# you !ill certainly remember the ne!scasters !arning people to stay off the roads
because they are so treacherous. To verify this point# they tell you that the @igh!ay Patrol has already
reported 35 accidents during the day. Their intention is to scare you into staying home !ith this number.
>hile this number sounds high# some studies have found that the number of accidents actually goes
do!n on days !ith severe !eather. >hy is thatG ?ne possible explanation is that !ith fe!er people on
the road# even !ith the dangerous conditions# the number of accidents !ill be less than on an VaverageV
day. The critical lesson here is that even !hen the general interpretation is Vaccurate#V the data may not
actually be evidence for the particular interpretation. This means you have no !ay to verify if the
interpretation is in fact correct.
There is generally a comparison implied in the use of statistics. @o! can you ma"e a valid comparison
!ithout having all the factsG Lood -uestion. Pou may have to loo" to another source or sources to find
all the data you need.
4. :ave the data been inter$reted correctlyD
If the author gives you her statistics# it is al!ays !ise to interpret them yourself. That is# !hile it is
useful to read and understand the authorUs interpretation# it is merely thatan interpretation. It is not the
final !ord on the matter. =urthermore# sometimes authors $including you# so be careful% can use
perfectly good statistics and come up !ith perfectly bad interpretations. @ere are t!o common mista"es
to !atch out for0
Confusin correlation "ith causation. Tust because t!o things vary together does not
mean that one of them is causing the other. It could be nothing more than a coincidence
or both could be caused by a third factor. /uch a relationship is called spurious.
The classic example is a study that found that the more firefighters sent to put out a fire#
the more damage the fire did. Pi"esN I thought firefighters !ere supposed to ma"e things
better# not !orseN ut before !e start shutting do!n fire stations# it might be useful to
entertain alternative explanations. This seemingly contradictory finding can be easily
explained by pointing to a third factor that causes both0 the si.e of the fire. >hat is the
lesson hereG &orrelation does not e-ual causation. /o it is important not only to thin"
about sho!ing that t!o variables co-vary# but also about the causal mechanism.
Inorin the marin of error. >hen survey results are reported# they fre-uently include a
margin of error. Pou might see this !ritten as Va margin of error of plus or minus 5
percentage points.V >hat does this meanG The simple story is that surveys are normally
generated from samples of a larger population# and thus they are never exact. There is
al!ays a confidence interval !ithin !hich the general population is expected to fall.
Thus# if I say that the number of AH& students !ho find it difficult to use statistics in
their !riting is 6,S# plus or minus +S that means# assuming the normal confidence
interval of ;5S# that !ith ;5S certainty !e can say that the actual number is bet!een
56S and 6+S.
>hy does this matterG ecause if after introducing this handout to the students of T=//# a ne! poll
finds that only 56S# plus or minus 4S# are having difficulty !ith statistics. @o!ever# consider that the
actual change is not significant because it falls !ithin the margin of error for the original results. >hat is
the lesson hereG 9argins of error matter# so you cannot just compare simple percentages.
=inally# you should "eep in mind that the source you are actually loo"ing at may not be the original
source of your data. That is# if you find an essay that -uotes a number of statistics in support of its
argument# often the author of the essay is using someone elseUs data. Thus# you need to consider not only
your source# but the authorUs sources as !ell.
<ritin( statistics
)s you !rite !ith statistics# remember your o!n experience as a reader of statistics. DonUt forget ho!
frustrated you !ere !hen you came across unclear statistics and ho! than"ful you !ere to read !ell-
presented ones. It is a sign of respect to your reader to be as clear and straightfor!ard as you can be !ith
your numbers. Hobody li"es to be played for a fool. Thus# even if you thin" that changing the numbers
just a little bit !ill help your argument1 do not give in to the temptation.
)s you begin !riting# "eep the follo!ing in mind. =irst# your reader !ill !ant to "no! the ans!ers to
the same -uestions that !e discussed above. /econd# you !ant to present your statistics in a clear#
unambiguous manner. elo! you !ill find a list of some common pitfalls in the !orld of statistics#
along !ith suggestions for avoiding them.
1. The mista1e of the Havera(eH 2riter
Hobody !ants to be average. 9oreover# nobody !ants to just see the !ord VaverageV in a piece of
!riting. >hyG ecause nobody "no!s exactly !hat it meansG There is not one# not t!o# but three
different definitions of VaverageV in statistics# and !hen you use the !ord# your reader has only a 44.4S
chance of guessing correctly !hich one you mean.
=or the follo!ing definitions# please refer to this set of numbers0
!0 !0 !0 I0 1&0 140 &10 0 I
9ean $arithmetic mean%
This may be the most average definition of average $!hatever that means%. This is the
!eighted averagea total of all numbers included divided by the -uantity of numbers
represented. Thus the mean of the above set of numbers is 5Y5Y5Y:Y23Y2+Y32Y44Y4:#
all divided by ;# !hich e-uals 25.6+++++++++++ $>o!N That is a lot of numbers after the
decimal!hat do !e do about thatG Precision is a good thing# but too much of it is over
the top1 it does not necessarily ma"e your argument any stronger. &onsider the reasonable
amount of precision based on your input and round accordingly. In this case# 25.6 should
do the tric".%
Depending on !hether you have an odd or even set of numbers# the median is either a%
the number mid!ay through an odd set of numbers or b% a value half!ay bet!een the t!o
middle numbers in an even set. =or the above set $an odd set of ; numbers%# the median is
23. $5# 5# 5# : Z :F Z 2+# 32# 44# 4:%
The mode is the number or value that occurs most fre-uently in a series. If# by some cruel
t!ist of fate# t!o or more values occur !ith the same fre-uency# then you ta"e the mean
of the values. =or our set# the mode !ould be 5# since it occurs 4 times# !hereas all other
numbers occur only once.
)s you can see# the numbers can vary considerably# as can their significance. Therefore# the !riter
should al!ays inform the reader !hich average he or she is using. ?ther!ise# confusion !ill inevitably
&. .atch your facts 2ith your /uestions
e sure that your statistics actually apply to the point*argument you are ma"ing. If !e return to our
discussion of averages# depending on the -uestion you are interesting in ans!ering# you should use the
proper statistics.
Perhaps an example !ould help illustrate this point. Pour professor hands bac" the midterm. The grades
are distributed as follo!s0

Lrade [ 7eceived
2,, +
;: 5
;5 3
64 +
5: 6
The professor felt that the test must have been too easy# because the average $M8!I.(% grade !as a ;5.
>hen a colleague as"ed her about ho! the midterm grades came out# she ans!ered# "no!ing that her
classes !ere gaining a reputation for being Vtoo easy#V that the average $M8.(% grade !as an :,.
>hen your parents as" you ho! you can justify doing so poorly on the midterm# you ans!er# VDonUt
!orry about my 64. It is not as bad as it sounds. The average $M@!8% grade !as a 5:.V
I !ill leave it up to you to decide !hether these choices are appropriate. /electing the appropriate facts
or statistics !ill help your argument immensely. Hot only !ill they actually support your point# but they
!ill not undermine the legitimacy of your position. $Thin" about ho! your parents !ill react !hen they
learn from the professor that the average $9'DI)H% grade !as ;5.% The best !ay to maintain precision
is to specify !hich of the three forms of VaverageV you are using.
. Sho2 the entire $icture
/ometimes# you may misrepresent your evidence by accident and misunderstanding. ?ther times#
ho!ever# misrepresentation may be slightly less innocent. This can be seen most readily in visual aids.
Do not shape and VmassageV the representation so that it Vbest supportsV your argument. This can be
achieved by presenting charts*graphs in numerous different !ays. 'ither the range can be shortened $to
cut out data points !hich do not fit# e.g.# starting a time series too late or ending it too soon%# or the scale
can be manipulated so that small changes loo" big and vice versa. =urthermore# do not fiddle !ith the
proportions# either vertically or hori.ontally. The fact that 3&. 'oday seems to get a!ay !ith these
techni-ues does ma"e them ?( for an academic argument.
&harts )# # and & all use the same data points# but the stories they seem to be telling are -uite different.
&hart ) sho!s a mild increase# follo!ed by a slo! decline. &hart # on the other hand# reveals a steep
jump# !ith a sharp drop-off immediately follo!ing. &onversely# &hart & seems to demonstrate that there
!as virtually no change over time. These variations are a product of changing the scale of the chart. ?ne
!ay to alleviate this problem is to supplement the chart by using the actual numbers in your text# in the
spirit of full disclosure.
)nother point of concern can be seen in &harts D and '. oth use the same data as charts )# # and &
for the years 2;:5-3,,,# but additional time points# using t!o hypothetical sets of data# have been added
bac" to 2;65. Liven the different trends leading up to 2;:5# consider ho! the significance of recent
events can change. In &hart D# the do!n!ard trend from 2;;, to 3,,, is going against a long-term
up!ard trend# !hereas in &hart '# it is merely the continuation of a larger do!n!ard trend after a brief
up!ard turn.
?ne of the difficulties !ith visual aids is that there is no hard and fast rule about ho! much to include
and !hat to exclude. Tudgment is al!ays involved. In general# be sure to present your visual aids so that
your readers can dra! their o!n conclusions from the facts and verify your assertions. If !hat you have
cut out could affect the readerUs interpretation of your data# then you might consider "eeping it.
4. Give bases of all $ercenta(es
ecause percentages are al!ays derived from a specific base# they are meaningless until associated !ith
a base. /o even if I tell you that after this reading this handout# you !ill be 34S more persuasive as a
!riter# that is not a very meaningful assertion because you have no idea !hat it is based on34S more
persuasive than !hatG
BetUs loo" at crime rates to see ho! this !or"s. /uppose !e have t!o cities# /pringfield and /helbyville.
In /pringfield# the murder rate has gone up 85S# !hile in /helbyville# the rate has only increased by
2,S. >hich city is having a bigger murder problemG >ell# thatUs obvious# rightG It has to be /pringfield.
)fter all# 85S is bigger than 2,S.
@old on a second# because this is actually much less clear than it loo"s. In order to really "no! !hich
city has a !orse problem# !e have to loo" at the actual numbers. If I told you that /pringfield had +
murders last year and 8 this year# and /helbyville had 4, murders last year and 44 murders this year#
!ould you change your ans!erG 9aybe# since 44 murders are significantly more than 8. ?ne !ould
certainly feel safer in /pringfield# rightG
Hot so fast# because !e still do not have all the facts. >e have to ma"e the comparison bet!een the t!o
based on e-uivalent standards. To do that# !e have to loo" at the per capita rate $often given in rates per
2,,#,,, people per year%. If /pringfield has 8,, residents !hile /helbyville has 4.4 million# then
/pringfield has a murder rate of 2#,,, per 2,,#,,, people# and /helbyvilleUs rate is merely 2 per
2,,#,,,. Lad.oo"sN The residents of /pringfield are dropping li"e flies. I thin" IUll stic" !ith nice# safe
/helbyville# than" you very much.
Percentages are really no different from any other form of statistics0 they gain their meaning only
through their context. &onse-uently# percentages should be presented in context so that readers can dra!
their o!n conclusions as you emphasi.e facts important to your argument. 7emember# if your statistics
really do support your point# then you should have no fear of revealing the larger context that frames
+m$ortant /uestions to as1 >and ans2er? about statistics
a. Is the -uestion being as"ed relevantG
b. Do the data come from reliable sourcesG
c. 9argin of error*confidence interval!hen is a change really a changeG
d. )re all data reported# or just the best*!orstG
e. )re the data presented in contextG
f. @ave the data been interpreted correctlyG
g. Does the author confuse correlation !ith causationG
Ho! that you have learned the lessons of statistics# you have t!o options. Ase this "no!ledge to
manipulate your numbers to your advantage# or use this "no!ledge to better understand and use
statistics to ma"e accurate and fair arguments. The choice is yours. Hine out of ten !riters# ho!ever#
prefer the latter# and the other one later regrets his or her decision.
<hat this handout is about
In this cra.y# mixed-up !orld of ours# transitions glue our ideas and our essays together. This handout
!ill introduce you to some useful transitional expressions and help you employ them effectively.
The function and im$ortance of transitions
In both academic !riting and professional !riting# your goal is to convey information clearly and
concisely# if not to convert the reader to your !ay of thin"ing. Transitions help you to achieve these
goals by establishing logical connections bet!een sentences# paragraphs# and sections of your papers. In
other !ords# transitions tell readers !hat to do !ith the information you present to them. >hether single
!ords# -uic" phrases or full sentences# they function as signs for readers that tell them ho! to thin"
about# organi.e# and react to old and ne! ideas as they read through !hat you have !ritten.
Transitions signal relationships bet!een ideas such as0 V)nother example coming upstay alertNV or
V@ereUs an exception to my previous statementV or V)lthough this idea appears to be true# hereUs the real
story.V asically# transitions provide the reader !ith directions for ho! to piece together your ideas into
a logically coherent argument. Transitions are not just verbal decorations that embellish your paper by
ma"ing it sound or read better. They are !ords !ith particular meanings that tell the reader to thin" and
react in a particular !ay to your ideas. In providing the reader !ith these important cues# transitions help
readers understand the logic of ho! your ideas fit together.
Si(ns that you mi(ht need to 2or1 on your transitions
@o! can you tell !hether you need to !or" on your transitionsG @ere are some possible clues0
Pour mentor has given comments li"e Vchoppy#V Vjumpy#V Vabrupt#V Vflo!#V Vneed signposts#V or
Vho! is this relatedGV on your papers.
Pour readers $mentors# '' mar"ers# friends# or classmates% tell you that they had trouble
follo!ing your organi.ation or train of thought.
Pou tend to !rite the !ay you thin"and your brain often jumps from one idea to another pretty
Pou !rote your paper in several discrete Vchun"sV and then pasted them together.
/ince the clarity and effectiveness of your transitions !ill depend greatly on ho! !ell you have
organi.ed your paper# you may !ant to evaluate your paperUs organi.ation before you !or" on
transitions. In the margins of your draft# summari.e in a !ord or short phrase !hat each paragraph is
about or ho! it fits into your analysis as a !hole. This exercise should help you to see the order of and
connection bet!een your ideas more clearly.
If after doing this exercise you find that you still have difficulty lin"ing your ideas together in a coherent
fashion# your problem may not be !ith transitions but !ith organi.ation.
:o2 transitions 2or1
The organi.ation of your !ritten !or" includes t!o elements0 $2% the order in !hich you have chosen to
present the different parts of your discussion or argument# and $3% the relationships you construct
bet!een these parts. Transitions cannot substitute for good organi.ation# but they can ma"e your
organi.ation clearer and easier to follo!. Ta"e a loo" at the follo!ing example0
8l 6ais, a Batin )merican country# has a ne! democratic government after having been a dictatorship
for many years. )ssume that you !ant to argue that 8l 6ais is not as democratic as the conventional
vie! !ould have us believe. ?ne !ay to effectively organi.e your argument !ould be to present the
conventional vie! and then to provide the reader !ith your critical response to this vie!. /o# in
Paragraph ) you !ould enumerate all the reasons that someone might consider 8l 6ais highly
democratic# !hile in Paragraph you !ould refute these points. The transition that !ould establish the
logical connection bet!een these t!o "ey elements of your argument !ould indicate to the reader that
the information in paragraph contradicts the information in paragraph ). )s a result# you might
organi.e your argument# including the transition that lin"s paragraph ) !ith paragraph # in the
follo!ing manner0
4ara(ra$h A5 points that support the vie! that 8l 6ais,s ne! government is very
Transition5 Despite the previous arguments# there are many reasons to thin" that 8l
6ais,s ne! government is not as democratic as typically believed.
4ara(ra$h ,5 points that contradict the vie! that 8l 6ais,s ne! government is very
In this case# the transition !ords VDespite the previous arguments#V suggest that the reader should not
believe paragraph ) and instead should consider the !riterUs reasons for vie!ing 8l 6ais,s democracy as
)s the example suggests# transitions can help reinforce the underlying logic of your paperUs organi.ation
by providing the reader !ith essential information regarding the relationship bet!een your ideas. In this
!ay# transitions act as the glue that binds the components of your argument or discussion into a unified#
coherent# and persuasive !hole.
Ty$es of transitions
Ho! that you have a general idea of ho! to go about developing effective transitions in your !riting# let
us briefly discuss the types of transitions your !riting !ill use.
The types of transitions available to you are as diverse as the circumstances in !hich you need to use
them. ) transition can be a single !ord# a phrase# a sentence# or an entire paragraph. In each case# it
functions the same !ay0 first# the transition either directly the content of a preceding
sentence# paragraph# or section or implies such a summary $by reminding the reader of !hat has come
before%. Then it helps the reader anticipate or comprehend the ne! information that you !ish to present.
1. Transitions bet2een sectionsParticularly in longer !or"s# it may be necessary to include
transitional paragraphs that summari.e for the reader the information just covered and specify the
relevance of this information to the discussion in the follo!ing section.
2. Transitions bet2een $ara(ra$hsJIf you have done a good job of arranging paragraphs so that
the content of one leads logically to the next# the transition !ill highlight a relationship that
already exists by the previous paragraph and suggesting something of the content
of the paragraph that follo!s. ) transition bet!een paragraphs can be a !ord or t!o $ho"ever,
for e/ample, similarly%# a phrase# or a sentence. Transitions can be at the end of the first
paragraph# at the beginning of the second paragraph# or in both places.
3. Transitions 2ithin $ara(ra$hs)s !ith transitions bet!een sections and paragraphs#
transitions !ithin paragraphs act as cues by helping readers to anticipate !hat is coming before
they read it. >ithin paragraphs# transitions tend to be single !ords or short phrases.
Transitional ex$ressions
'ffectively constructing each transition often depends upon your ability to identify !ords or phrases that
!ill indicate for the reader the $ind of logical relationships you !ant to convey. The table belo! should
ma"e it easier for you to find these !ords or phrases. >henever you have trouble finding a !ord# phrase#
or sentence to serve as an effective transition# refer to the information in the table for assistance. Boo" in
the left column of the table for the "ind of logical relationship you are trying to express. Then loo" in the
right column of the table for examples of !ords or phrases that express this logical relationship.
(eep in mind that each of these !ords or phrases may have a slightly different meaning. &onsult a
dictionary or !riterUs handboo" if you are unsure of the exact meaning of a !ord or phrase.
6-G+CA6 )E6AT+-*S:+4 T)A*S+T+-*A6 EK4)ESS+-*
Similarity also# in the same !ay# just as ... so too#
li"e!ise# similarly
Exce$tionLContrast but# ho!ever# in spite of# on the one
hand ... on the other hand#
nevertheless# nonetheless#
not!ithstanding# in contrast# on the
contrary# still# yet
Se/uenceL-rder first# second# third# ... next# then#
Time after# after!ard# at last# before#
currently# during# earlier# immediately#
later# mean!hile# no!# recently#
simultaneously# subse-uently# then
Exam$le for example# for instance# namely#
specifically# to illustrate
Em$hasis even# indeed# in fact# of course# truly
4laceL4osition above# adjacent# belo!# beyond# here#
in front# in bac"# nearby# there
Cause and Effect accordingly# conse-uently# hence# so#
therefore# thus
Additional Su$$ort or
additionally# again# also# and# as !ell#
besides# e-ually important# further#
furthermore# in addition# moreover#
ConclusionLSummary finally# in a !ord# in brief# briefly# in
conclusion# in the end# in the final
analysis# on the !hole# thus# to
conclude# to summari.e# in sum# to
sum up# in summary
4assive =oice
<hat this handout is about
This handout !ill help you understand !hat the passive voice is# !hy many professors and !riting
instructors fro!n upon it# and ho! you can revise your paper to achieve greater clarity. /ome things here
may surprise you. >e hope this handout !ill help you to understand the passive voice and allo! you to
ma"e more informed choices as you !rite.
/o !hat is the passive voiceG =irst# letUs be clear on !hat the passive voice isnUt. elo!# !eUll list some
common myths about the passive voice0
1. Ese of the $assive voice constitutes a (rammatical error.
Ase of the passive voice is not a grammatical error. ItUs a stylistic issue that pertains to claritythat is#
there are times !hen using the passive voice can prevent a reader from understanding !hat you mean.
&. Any use of Hto beH >in any form? constitutes the $assive voice.
The passive voice entails more than just using a being verb. Asing Vto beV can !ea"en the impact of
your !riting# but it is occasionally necessary and does not by itself constitute the passive voice.
. The $assive voice al2ays avoids the first $ersonM if somethin( is in first $erson >H+H
or H2eH? itFs also in the active voice.
?n the contrary# you can very easily use the passive voice in the first person. @ereUs an example0 VI !as
hit by the dodgeball.V
4. @ou should never use the $assive voice.
>hile the passive voice can !ea"en the clarity of your !riting# there are times !hen the passive voice is
?( and even preferable.
!. + can rely on my (rammar chec1er to catch the $assive voice.
/ee 9yth [2. /ince the passive voice isnUt a grammar error# itUs not al!ays caught. Typically# grammar
chec"ers catch only a fraction of passive voice usage.
Do any of these misunderstandings sound familiarG If so# youUre not alone. ThatUs !hy !e !rote this
handout. It discusses ho! to recogni.e the passive voice# !hen you should avoid it# and !hen itUs ?(.
9efinin( the $assive voice
) passive construction occurs !hen you ma"e the object of an action into the subject of a sentence. That
is# !hoever or !hatever is performing the action is not the grammatical subject of the sentence. Ta"e a
loo" at this passive rephrasing of a familiar jo"e0
)hy "as the road crossed by the chic$en?
>ho is doing the action in this sentenceG The chic1en is the one doing the action in this sentence# but
the chic"en is not in the spot !here you !ould expect the grammatical subject to be. Instead# the road is
the grammatical subject. The more familiar phrasing $!hy did the chic"en cross the roadG% puts the actor
in the subject position# the position of doing somethingthe chic"en $the actor*doer% crosses the road
$the object%. >e use active verbs to represent that Vdoing#V !hether it be crossing roads# proposing ideas#
ma"ing arguments# or invading houses $more on that shortly%.
?nce you "no! !hat to loo" for# passive constructions are easy to spot. Boo" for a form of Vto beV $is,
are, am , "as, "ere, has been, have been, had been, "ill be, "ill have been, bein% follo!ed by a past
participle. $The past participle is a form of the verb that typically# but not al!ays# ends in V-ed.V /ome
exceptions to the V-edV rule are !ords li"e VpaidV $not VpayedV% and Vdriven.V $not VdrivedV%. @ereUs a
sure-fire formula for identifying the passive voice0
form of &to #e& ' past participle ( passive voice
=or example0
'he metropolis has been scorched by the draon,s fiery breath.
)hen her house "as invaded, 6enelope had to thin$ of "ays to delay her remarriae.
*ot every sentence that contains a form of HhaveH or HbeH is $assiveN =orms of the !ord VhaveV can
do several different things in 'nglish. =or example# in the sentence VTohn has to study all afternoon#V
VhasV is not part of a past-tense verb. ItUs a modal verb# li"e Vmust#V Vcan#V or VmayVthese verbs tell
ho! necessary it is to do something $compare VI have to studyV versus VI may studyV%. )nd forms of
VbeV are not al!ays passive# eitherVbeV can be the main verb of a sentence that describes a state of
being# rather than an action. =or example# the sentence VTohn is a good studentV is not passive1 VisV is
simply describing TohnUs state of being. The moral of the story0 donUt assume that any time you see a
form of VhaveV and a form of Vto beV together# you are loo"ing at a passive sentence.
Heed more help deciding !hether a sentence is passiveG )s" yourself !hether there is an action going
on in the sentence. If so# !hat is at the front of the sentenceG Is it the person or thing that does the
actionG ?r is it the person or thing that has the action done to itG In a passive sentence# the object of the
action !ill be in the subject position at the front of the sentence. )s discussed above# the sentence !ill
also contain a form of be and a past participle. If the subject appears at all# it !ill usually be at the end
of the sentence# often in a phrase that starts !ith Vby.V Ta"e a loo" at this example0
The fish !as caught by the seagull.
If !e as" ourselves !hether thereUs an action# the ans!er is yes0 a fish is being caught. If !e as" !hatUs
at the front of the sentence# the actor or the object of the action# itUs the object0 the fish# unfortunately for
it# got caught# and there it is at the front of the sentence. The thing that did the catchingthe seagullis
at the end# after Vby.V ThereUs a form of be $!as% and a past participle $caught%. This sentence is passive.
BetUs briefly loo" at ho! to change passive constructions into active ones. Pou can usually just s!itch
the !ord order# ma"ing the actor and subject one by putting the actor up front0
'he metropolis has been scorched by the draon,s fiery breath.
'he draon scorched the metropolis "ith his fiery breath.
)hen her house "as invaded, 6enelope had to thin$ of "ays to delay her remarriae.
.fter suitors invaded her house, 6enelope had to thin$ of "ays to delay her remarriae.
To repeat# the "ey to identifying the passive voice is to loo" for both a form of Vto beV and a past
participle# !hich usually# but not al!ays# ends in V-ed.V
Clarity and meanin(
The primary reason !hy your instructors fro!n on the passive voice is that they often have to guess
!hat you mean. /ometimes# the confusion is minor. BetUs loo" again at that sentence from a studentUs
paper on @omerUs 'he @dyssey0
)hen her house "as invaded, 6enelope had to thin$ of "ays to delay her remarriae.
Bi"e many passive constructions# this sentence lac"s explicit reference to the actorit doesnUt tell the
reader "ho or "hat invaded PenelopeUs house. The active voice clarifies things0
.fter suitors invaded 6enelope,s house, she had to thin$ of "ays to fend them off.
Thus many instructorsthe readers ma"ing sense of your !ritingprefer that you use the active voice.
They !ant you to specify !ho or !hat is doing the action. &ompare the follo!ing t!o examples from an
anthropology paper on a Baotian village to see if you agree.
$passive% . ne" system of dru control la"s "as set up. $y !homG%
$active% 'he 5ao 6eople,s 2evolutionary 6arty set up a ne" system of dru control la"s.
@ereUs another example# from the same paper# that illustrates the lac" of precision that can accompany
the passive voice0
Gender trainin "as conducted in si/ villaes, thus affectin social relationships.
)nd a fe! pages later0
6lus, mar$etin lin$s "ere bein established.
In both paragraphs# the !riter never specifies the actors for those t!o actions $)ho did the gender
trainingG )ho established mar"eting lin"sG%. Thus the reader has trouble appreciating the dynamics of
these social interactions# !hich depend upon the actors conducting and establishing these things.
The follo!ing example# once again from that paper on 'he @dyssey# typifies another instance !here an
instructor might desire more precision and clarity0
.lthouh 6enelope shares heroic characteristics "ith her husband, @dysseus, she
is not considered a hero.
)ho does not consider Penelope a heroG ItUs difficult to tell# but the rest of that paragraph suggests that
the student does not consider Penelope a hero $the topic of the paper%. The reader might also conceivably
thin" that the student is referring to critics# scholars# or modern readers of 'he @dyssey. ?ne might argue
that the meaning comes through herethe problem is merely stylistic. Pet style affects ho! your reader
understands your argument and content. )!"!ard or unclear style prevents your reader from
appreciating the ideas that are so clear to you !hen you !rite. Thus "no!ing ho! your reader might
react enables you to ma"e more effective choices !hen you revise. /o after you identify instances of the
passive# you should consider !hether your use of the passive inhibits clear understanding of !hat you
Summari3in( history or literary $lots 2ith the $assive voice5
donFt be a la3y thin1er or 2riterN
>ith the previous section in mind# you should also "no! that some instructors proclaim that the passive
voice signals sloppy# la.y thin"ing. These instructors argue that !riters !ho overuse the passive voice
have not fully thought through !hat they are discussing and that this ma"es for imprecise arguments.
&onsider these sentences from papers on )merican history0
'he "or$in class "as marinali0ed.
.frican .mericans "ere discriminated aainst.
)omen "ere not treated as equals.
/uch sentences lac" the precision and connection to context and cause that mar" rigorous thin"ing. The
reader learns little about the systems# conditions# human decisions# and contradictions that produced
these groupsU experiences of oppression. )nd so the readerthe instructor-uestions the !riterUs
understanding of these things.
It is especially important to be sure that your thesis statement is clear and precise# so thin" t!ice before
using the passive voice in your thesis.
In papers !here you discuss the !or" of an authore.g.# a historian or !riter of literatureyou can also
strengthen your !riting by not relying on the passive as a crutch !hen plots or arguments.
Instead of !riting
It is arued thatH
or 'om and #uc$ are portrayed asH
or .nd then the lin$ bet"een I and J is made, sho"in thatH
you can heighten the level of your analysis by explicitly connecting an author !ith these statements0
.nderson arues thatH
'"ain portrays 'om and #uc$ asH
Ishiuro dra"s a lin$ bet"een I and J to sho" thatH
y avoiding passive constructions in these situations# you can demonstrate a more thorough
understanding of the material you discuss.
Scientific 2ritin(
)ll this advice !or"s for papers in the humanities# you might notebut !hat about technical or
scientific papers# including lab reportsG 9any instructors recommend or even re-uire the passive voice
in such !riting. The rationale for using the passive voice in scientific !riting is that it achieves Van
objective toneVfor example# by avoiding the first person. To consider scientific !riting# letUs brea" it
up into t!o main types0 lab reports and !riting about a scientific topic or literature.
6ab re$orts
)lthough more and more scientific journals accept or even prefer first-person active voice $e.g.# Vthen
!e se-uenced the human genomeV%# some of your instructors may !ant you to remove yourself from
your lab report by using the passive voice $e.g.# Vthen the human genome !as se-uencedV rather than
Vthen !e se-uenced the human genomeV%. /uch advice particularly applies to the section on 9aterials
and 9ethods# !here a procedure Vis follo!ed.V
>hile you might employ the passive voice to retain objectivity# you can still use active constructions in
some instances and retain your objective stance. Thus itUs useful to "eep in mind the sort of active verbs
you might use in lab reports. 'xamples include0 support# indicate# suggest# correspond# challenge# yield#
Thus instead of !riting
. number of thins are indicated by these results.
you could !rite
'hese results indicate a number of thins.
or -urther analysis sho"edCsuestedCyieldedH
Altimately# you should find out your instructorUs preference regarding your use of the passive in lab
<ritin( about scientific to$ics
In some assignments# rather than reporting the results of your o!n scientific !or"# you !ill be !riting
about the !or" of other scientists. /uch assignments might include literature revie!s and research
reports on scientific topics. Pou have t!o main possible tas"s in these assignments0 reporting !hat other
people have done $their research or experiments% or indicating general scientific "no!ledge $the body of
"no!ledge coming out of othersU research%. ?ften the t!o go together. In both instances# you can easily
use active constructions even though you might be tempted by the passiveespecially if youUre used to
!riting your o!n lab reports in the passive.
Pou decide0 >hich of these t!o examples is clearerG
#eart disease is considered the leadin cause of death in the 3nited &tates. $passive%
or 2esearch points to heart disease as the leadin cause of death in the 3nited &tates.$active%
)lternatively# you could !rite this sentence !ith human actors0
2esearchers have concluded that heart disease is the leadin cause of death in the 3nited &tates.
The last t!o sentences illustrate a relationship that the first one lac"s. The first example does not tell
!ho or !hat leads us to accept this conclusion about heart disease.
@ereUs one last example from a report that describes angioplasty. >hich sounds better to youG
'he balloon is positioned in an area of bloc$ae and is inflated.
or 'he sureon positions the balloon in an area of bloc$ae and inflates it.
Pou can improve your scientific !riting by relying less on the passive. The advice !eUve given for
papers on history or literature e-ually applies to papers in more VscientificV courses. Ho matter !hat
field youUre !riting in# !hen you use the passive voice# you ris" conveying to your reader a sense of
uncertainty and imprecision regarding your !riting and thin"ing.
HS2indles and $erversionsH
efore !e discuss a fe! instances !hen the passive might be preferable# !e should mention one of the
more political uses of the passive0 to hide blame or obscure responsibility. Jou !ouldnUt do this# but you
can learn ho! to become a critic of those !ho exhibit !hat Leorge ?r!ell included among the
Vs!indles and perversionsV of !riting. =or example0
Mista$es "ere made.
'he 8//on Company accepts that a fe" allons miht have been spilled.
y becoming critically a!are of ho! others use language to shape clarity and meaning# you can learn
ho! better to revise your o!n !or". (eep ?r!ellUs s!indles and perversions in mind as you read other
!riters. ecause itUs easy to leave the actor out of passive sentences# some people use the passive voice
to avoid mentioning !ho is responsible for certain actions.
So 2hen is it -7 to use the $assiveD
/ometimes the passive voice is the best choice. @ere are a fe! instances !hen the passive voice is -uite
1. To em$hasi3e an ob'ect. Ta"e a loo" at this example0
:>> votes are required to pass the bill.
This passive sentence the number of votes re-uired. )n active version of the sentence $VThe
bill re-uires 2,, votes to passV% !ould put the emphasis on the bill# !hich may be less dramatic.
&. To de8em$hasi3e an un1no2n sub'ectLactor. Consider this exam$le5
@ver :F> different contaminants have been dumped into the river.
If you donUt "no! !ho the actor isin this case# if you donUt actually "no! !ho dumped all of those
contaminants in the riverthen you may need to !rite in the passive. ut remember# if you do "no! the
actor# and if the clarity and meaning of your !riting !ould benefit from indicating him*her*it*them# then
use an active construction. Pet consider the third case.
. +f your readers donFt need to 1no2 2hoFs res$onsible for the action.
@ereUs !here your choice can be difficult1 some instances are less clear than others. Try to put yourself
in your readerUs position to anticipate ho! he*she !ill react to the !ay you have phrased your thoughts.
@ere are t!o examples0
1aby &ophia "as delivered at K7K> a.m. yesterday.$passive%
!r. &usan Aones delivered baby &ophia at K7K> a.m. yesterday.$active%
The first sentence might be more appropriate in a birth announcement sent to family and friendsthey
are not li"ely to "no! Dr. Tones and are much more interested in the VobjectV$the baby% than in the actor
$the doctor%. ) hospital report of yesterdayUs events might be more li"ely to focus on Dr. TonesU role.
Summary of strate(ies
Boo" for the passive voice0 Vto beV Y a past participle $usually# but not al!ays# ending in V-edV%
If you donUt see both components# move on.
Does the sentence describe an actionG If so# !here is the actorG Is he*she*it in the grammatical
subject position $at the front of the sentence% or in the object position $at the end of the sentence#
or missing entirely%G
Does the sentence end !ith Vby...VG 9any passive sentences include the actor at the end of the
sentence in a VbyV phrase# li"e VThe ball !as hit by the $layerV or VThe shoe !as che!ed up by
the do(.V VyV by itself isnUt a conclusive sign of the passive voice# but it can prompt you to ta"e
a closer loo".
Is the doer*actor indicatedG /hould you indicate him*her*itG
Does it really matter !hoUs responsible for the actionG
>ould your reader as" you to clarify a sentence because of an issue related to your use of the
Do you use a passive construction in your thesis statementG
Do you use the passive as a crutch in a plot or history# or in describing somethingG
Do you !ant to emphasi.e the objectG
If you decide that your sentence !ould be clearer in the active voice# s!itch the sentence around
to ma"e the subject and actor one. Put the actor $the one doing the action of the sentence% in front
of the verb.
To2ards active thin1in( and 2ritin(
>e encourage you to "eep these tips in mind as you revise. >hile you may be able to employ this advice
as you !rite your first draft# thatUs not necessarily al!ays possible. In !riting# clarity often comes !hen
you revise# not on your first try. Do not !orry about the passive if that stress inhibits you in getting your
ideas do!n on paper. ut do loo" for it !hen you revise. )ctively ma"e choices about its proper place in
your !riting. There is nothing grammatically or other!ise V!rongV about using the passive voice. The
"ey is to recogni.e !hen you should# !hen you shouldnUt# and !hen your instructor just doesnUt !ant
you to. These choices are yours. >e hope this handout helps you to ma"e them.
<or1s consulted and su((ested readin(
)nson# &hris 9. and 7obert ). /ch!egler. 'he 5onman #andboo$ for )riters and 2eaders. /econd
edition. $3,,,%. Pages 22:-23,1 38,-3831 363-6+1 46;-821 ++:.
aron# Dennis. VThe Passive Moice &an e Pour =riend#V !eclinin Grammar and @ther 8ssays @n the
8nlish Vocabulary $Arbana0 H&T'# 2;:;%# pages 28-33.
@jortshoj# (eith. 'he 'ransition to Collee )ritin. $3,,2%. Pages 22;-232.
Banham# 7ichard. 2evisin 6rose. =ourth edition. $3,,,%.
?r!ell# Leorge. 6olitics and the 8nlish 5anuae. $2;+6%.
7osen# Beonard T. and Baurence ehrens. 'he .llyn 9 1acon #andboo$. Third edition. $2;;8%. Pages
3+,-3+41 436-4381 4+,-4++.
/trun" and >hite. 'he 8lements of &tyle. Third edition. $2;8;%. Pages 2:-2;.
Trimble# Tohn 7. )ritin "ith &tyle. Apper /addle 7iver# H.T. 0 Prentice @all. $3,,,%. Pages 55-5:.
>illiams# Toseph. &tyle7 'en 5essons in Clarity and Grace. /ixth edition. $3,,,%. &hapter 4 and pages
<hat this handout is about
This handout offers seven easy steps to becoming a comma superhero.
Commas0 commas0 and more commas
&ommas help your reader figure out !hich !ords go together in a sentence and !hich parts of your
sentences are most important. Asing commas incorrectly may confuse the reader# signal ignorance of
!riting rules# or indicate carelessness. )lthough using commas correctly may seem mysterious# it can be
easy if you follo! a fe! guidelines.
,e2are of $o$ular myths of comma usa(e5
.@T:5 6on( sentences need a comma. ) really long sentence may be perfectly correct
!ithout commas. The length of a sentence does not determine !hether you need a comma.
.@T:5 @ou should add a comma 2herever you $ause. >here you pause or breathe in a
sentence does not reliably indicate !here a comma belongs. Different readers pause or breathe in
different places.
.@T:5 Commas are so mysterious that itFs im$ossible to fi(ure out 2here they belon(N
/ome rules are flexible# but most of the time# commas belong in very predictable places. Pou can
learn to identify many of those places using the tips in this handout.
Pou probably already "no! at least one of the follo!ing guidelines and just have to practice the others.
These guidelines are basically all you need to "no!1 if you learn them once# youre set for most
1. +ntroductory bits >small8medium8lar(e?
/etting off introductory !ords# phrases# or clauses !ith a comma lets the reader "no! that the main
subject and main verb of the sentence come later. There are basically three "inds of introductory bits0
small# medium# and large ones. Ho matter !hat si.e they are# an introductory bit cannot stand alone as
a complete thouht. It simply introduces the main sub4ect and verb.
There are small $just one !ord% introductory bits0
Generally, e/traterrestrials are friendly and helpful.
)oreover, some "ill $nit booties for you if you as$ nicely.
There are medium introductory bits. ?ften these are t!o- to four-!ord prepositional phrases or brief
-in and -ed phrases0
*n fact, God0illa is 4ust a misunderstood teen li0ard of iant proportions.
$hrou%hout his early life, he felt a stron affinity "ith a playful dolphin named -lipper.
+ran,ly spea,in%, God0illa "anted to play the same $inds of roles that -lipper "as iven.
-issatisfied .ith destruction, he "as hopin to frolic$ in the "aves "ith his #olly"ood friends.
There are large introductory bits $more than + !ords%. Pou can often spot these by loo"ing for "ey
!ords*groups such as althouh, if, as, in order to, and "hen7
*f you discover that you feel nauseated, then you $no" youLve tried my Clam &urprise.
As far as * am concerned, it is the best dish for dispatchin un"anted uests.
&. FA*,-@S
FA*,-@S is a handy mnemonic device for remembering the coordinating conjunctions0 =or# )nd# Hor#
ut# ?r# Pet# /o. These !ords function as connectors. They can connect !ords# phrases# and clauses# li"e
<ords0 I am almost dressed and ready.
4hrases0 9y soc"s are in the livin room or under my bed.
Clauses0 'hey smell really bad, so they "ill be easy to find.
Hotice the comma in the final example. Pou should al!ays have a comma before FA*,-@S that join
t!o independent clauses $t!o subjects and t!o verbs that ma"e up t!o complete thoughts%. Boo"
carefully at the next t!o sentences to see t!o independent clauses separated by comma O FA*,-@S.
If you do not have t!o subjects and t!o verbs separated by the FA*,-@S0 you do not need to insert the
comma before the FA*,-@S. In other !ords# if the second grouping of !ords isnt a complete thought#
dont use a comma. Try reading the !ords after FA*,-@S all by themselves. Do they ma"e a complete
Pou can read your o!n !riting in the same !ay. 7ead !hat comes after FA*,-@S all by itself. If itUs a
complete thought# you need a comma. If not# you donUt.
. The dreaded comma s$lice
If you dont have FA*,-@S bet!een the t!o complete and separate thoughts# using a comma alone
causes a Vcomma spliceV or Vfused sentenceV $some instructors may call it a run-on%. /ome readers
$especially professors% !ill thin" of this as a serious error.
)D0 My hamster loved to play, I ave him a hula-hoop.
)B/? )D0 Jou "ore a lovely hat, it "as your only defence.
To fix these comma splices# you can do one of four simple things0 just add FA*,-@S0 change the
comma to a semicolon# ma"e each clause a separate sentence# or add a subordinator $a !ord li"e
because, "hile, althouh, if, "hen, since, etc.%
L??D0 Jou "ore a lovely hat, for it "as your only defence.
)B/? L??D0 Jou "ore a lovely hatB it "as your only defence.
/TIBB L??D0 Jou "ore a lovely hat. It "as your only defence.
T?T)BBP L??D0 Jou "ore a lovely hat because it "as your only defence.
4. FA*,-@ fa1ers
Ho.ever/ therefore/ moreover/ and other !ords li"e them are not FA*,-@S $they are called
conjunctive adverbs%. They go bet!een t!o complete thoughts# just li"e =)H?P/# but they ta"e
different punctuation. >hyG >ho caresG Pou just need to recogni.e that they are not FA*,-@S $for#
and# nor# but# or# yet# sorememberG%# and youUll ma"e the right choice.
>hen you !ant to use one of these !ords# you have t!o good choices. &hec" to see if you have a
complete thought on both sides of the Vconjunctive adverb.V If you do# then you can use a period to
ma"e t!o sentences# or you can use a semicolon after the first complete thought. 'ither !ay# youUll use a
comma after the fa"er in the second complete thought. Hotice the subtle differences in punctuation here0
L??D0 as"etball is my favourite sport. #o"ever# table tennis is !here I excel.
)B/? L??D0 as"etball is my favourite sport1 ho"ever# table tennis is !here I excel.
)D0 as"etball is my favourite sport# ho"ever table tennis is !here I excel.
)B/? )D0 as"etball is my favourite sport# ho"ever# table tennis is !here I excel.
!. K0@0 and P
Put commas bet!een items in a list. >hen giving a short and simple list of things in a sentence# the last
comma $right before the conjunctionIusually and or or% is optional# but it is never !rong. If the items in
the list are longer and more complicated# you should al!ays place a final comma before the conjunction.
'IT@'70 Jou can buy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in 5os .neles.
?70 Jou can buy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in 5os .neles.
AT )B>)P/0 . ood student listens to his teachers "ithout ya"nin, reads once in a "hile, and
"rites papers before they are due.
Q. 9escribers
If you have t!o or more adjectives $!ords that describe% that are not joined by a conjunction $usually
and% and both*all adjectives modify the same !ord# put a comma bet!een them.
#e "as a bashful, dopey, sleepy d"arf.
'he frothy, radiant princess $issed the putrid, vile fro.
7. +nterru$ters
T!o commas can be used to set off additional information that appears !ithin the sentence but is
separate from the primary subject and verb of the sentence. These commas help your reader figure out
your main point by telling him or her that the !ords !ithin the commas are not necessary to understand
the rest of the sentence. In other !ords# you should be able to ta"e out the section framed by commas
and still have a complete and clear sentence.
1ob Mills, a sophomore from 2aleih, "as the only (orth Carolina native at the Aapanese food festival
in Cary.
.aron thouht he could see the future, not the past, in the "rin$les on his s$in.
My chemistry boo$, "hich "eihs about :>> pounds, has some really reat e/amples.
To see if you need commas around an interrupter# try ta"ing the interrupter out of the sentence
completely. If the sentence is still clear !ithout the interrupter# then you probably need the commas.
Con(ratulationsN @ou 1no2 ho2 to use commasN
,ut 2aitJis there moreD
These guidelines cover the most common situations in !riting# but you may have a stic"ier -uestion.
elo! are some suggestions for finding some of the many other resources at your disposal.
If you are !orried about punctuation in general# pic" up a !riting handboo" from the library or the
Aniversity boo"store. PouUll find a list of handy resources belo!.
<or1s consulted
7osen# Beonard T. et al. 'he .llyn 9 1acon #andboo$. oston0 )llyn < acon# 3,,,.
Lordon# (aren 'li.abeth. 'he !elu/e 'ransitive Vampire7 'he 3ltimate #andboo$ of Grammar for the
Innocent, the 8aer, and the !oomed. He! Por"0 Pantheon oo"s# 2;;4.
Lordon# (aren 'li.abeth. 'he (e" )ell-'empered &entence. oston0 @oughton 9ifflin &ompany# 2;;4.
(olln# 9artha. 3nderstandin 8nlish Grammar. He! Por"0 9ac9illan Publishing &ompany# 3,,5.
(olln# 9artha. 2hetorical Grammar7 Grammatical Choices, 2hetorical 8ffects. He! Por"0 9ac9illan
Publishing &ompany# 3,,6.
?&onner# Patricia T. )oe Is I. He! Por"0 7iverhead oo"s# 3,,4.
<hat this handout is about
This handout !ill explain the functions of conclusions# offer strategies for !riting effective ones# help
you evaluate your drafted conclusions# and suggest conclusion strategies to avoid.
About conclusions
Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to !rite. >hile the body is often
easier to !rite# it needs a frame around it. )n introduction and conclusion frame your thoughts and
bridge your ideas for the reader.
Tust as your introduction acts as a bridge that transports your readers from their o!n lives into the
VplaceV of your analysis# your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers ma"e the transition
bac" to their daily lives. /uch a conclusion !ill help them see !hy all your analysis and information
should matter to them after they put the paper do!n.
Pour conclusion is your chance to have the last !ord on the subject. The conclusion allo!s you to have
the final say on the issues you have raised in your paper# to summari.e your thoughts# to demonstrate the
importance of your ideas# and to propel your reader to a ne! vie! of the subject. It is also your
opportunity to ma"e a good final impression and to end on a positive note.
Pour conclusion can go beyond the confines of the assignment. The conclusion pushes beyond the
boundaries of the prompt and allo!s you to consider broader issues# ma"e ne! connections# and
elaborate on the significance of your findings.
Pour conclusion should ma"e your readers glad they read your paper. Pour conclusion gives your reader
something to ta"e a!ay that !ill help them see things differently or appreciate your topic in personally
relevant !ays. It can suggest broader implications that !ill not only interest your reader# but also enrich
your readerUs life in some !ay. It is your gift to the reader.
Strate(ies for 2ritin( an effective conclusion
?ne or more of the follo!ing strategies may help you !rite an effective conclusion.
Play the V/o >hatV Lame. If youUre stuc" and feel li"e your conclusion isnUt saying anything ne!
or interesting# as" a friend to read it !ith you. >henever you ma"e a statement from your
conclusion# as" the friend to say# V/o !hatGV or V>hy should anybody careGV Then ponder that
-uestion and ans!er it. @ereUs ho! it might go0
Pou0 1asically, I,m 4ust sayin that education "as important to !oulass.
=riend0 &o "hat?
Pou0 )ell, it "as important because it "as a $ey to him feelin li$e a free and equal
=riend0 )hy should anybody care?
Pou0 'hat,s important because plantation o"ners tried to $eep slaves from bein
educated so that they could maintain control. )hen !oulass obtained an education, he
undermined that control personally.
Pou can also use this strategy on your o!n# as"ing yourself V/o >hatGV as you develop your
ideas or your draft.
7eturn to the theme or themes in the introduction. This strategy brings the reader full circle. =or
example# if you begin by describing a scenario# you can end !ith the same scenario as proof that
your essay is helpful in creating a ne! understanding. Pou may also refer to the introductory
paragraph by using "ey !ords or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the
/ynthesi.e# donUt summari.e0 Include a brief summary of the paperUs main points# but donUt
simply repeat things that !ere in your paper. Instead# sho! your reader ho! the points you made
and the support and examples you used fit together. Pull it all together.
Include a provocative insight or -uotation from the research or reading you did for your paper.
Propose a course of action# a solution to an issue# or -uestions for further study. This can redirect
your readerUs thought process and help her to apply your info and ideas to her o!n life or to see
the broader implications.
Point to broader implications. =or example# if your paper examines the Lreensboro sit-ins or
another event in the &ivil 7ights 9ovement# you could point out its impact on the &ivil 7ights
9ovement as a !hole. ) paper about the style of !riter Mirginia >oolf could point to her
influence on other !riters or on later feminists.
Strate(ies to avoid
eginning !ith an unnecessary# overused phrase such as Vin conclusion#V Vin summary#V or Vin
closing.V )lthough these phrases can !or" in speeches# they come across as !ooden and trite in
/tating the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion.
Introducing a ne! idea or subtopic in your conclusion.
'nding !ith a rephrased thesis statement !ithout any substantive changes.
9a"ing sentimental# emotional appeals that are out of character !ith the rest of an analytical
Including evidence $-uotations# statistics# etc.% that should be in the body of the paper.
Four 1inds of ineffective conclusions
2. The VThatUs 9y /tory and IUm /tic"ing to ItV &onclusion. This conclusion just restates the thesis
and is usually painfully short. It does not push the ideas for!ard. People !rite this "ind of
conclusion !hen they canUt thin" of anything else to say. 'xample0 In conclusion# =rederic"
Douglass !as# as !e have seen# a pioneer in )merican education# proving that education !as a
major force for social change !ith regard to slavery.
3. The V/herloc" @olmesV &onclusion. /ometimes !riters !ill state the thesis for the very first time
in the conclusion. Pou might be tempted to use this strategy if you donUt !ant to give everything
a!ay too early in your paper. Pou may thin" it !ould be more dramatic to "eep the reader in the
dar" until the end and then V!o!V him !ith your main idea# as in a /herloc" @olmes mystery.
The reader# ho!ever# does not expect a mystery# but an analytical discussion of your topic in an
academic style# !ith the main argument $thesis% stated up front. 'xample0 $)fter a paper that lists
numerous incidents from the boo" but never says !hat these incidents reveal about Douglass and
his vie!s on education%0 /o# as the evidence above demonstrates# Douglass sa! education as a
!ay to undermine the slaveholdersU po!er and also an important step to!ard freedom.
4. The V)merica the eautifulV*VI )m >omanV*V>e /hall ?vercomeV &onclusion. This "ind of
conclusion usually dra!s on emotion to ma"e its appeal# but !hile this emotion and even
sentimentality may be very heartfelt# it is usually out of character !ith the rest of an analytical
paper. ) more sophisticated commentary# rather than emotional praise# !ould be a more fitting
tribute to the topic. 'xample0 ecause of the efforts of fine )mericans li"e =rederic" Douglass#
countless others have seen the shining beacon of light that is education. @is example !as a torch
that lit the !ay for others. =rederic" Douglass !as truly an )merican hero.
+. The VLrab agV &onclusion. This "ind of conclusion includes extra information that the !riter
found or thought of but couldnUt integrate into the main paper. Pou may find it hard to leave out
details that you discovered after hours of research and thought# but adding random facts and bits
of evidence at the end of an other!ise-!ell-organi.ed essay can just create confusion. 'xample0
In addition to being an educational pioneer# =rederic" Douglass provides an interesting case
study for masculinity in the )merican /outh. @e also offers historians an interesting glimpse into
slave resistance !hen he confronts &ovey# the overseer. @is relationships !ith female relatives
reveal the importance of family in the slave community.
<or1s consulted
)ll -uotations are from0
Douglass# =rederic". (arrative of the 5ife of -rederic$ !oulass, an .merican &lave# edited and !ith
introduction by @ouston ). a"er# Tr.# He! Por"0 Penguin oo"s# 2;:6.
/trategies for >riting a &onclusion. Biteracy 'ducation ?nline# /t. &loud /tate Aniversity. 2: 9ay
3,,5 Zhttp0***acad!rite*conclude.html\.
&onclusions. Hesbitt-Tohnston >riting &enter# @amilton &ollege. 28 9ay 3,,5
.a1in( *ote Cards
)s" these -uestions0
<hy do itD
Lood note-ta"ing strategies !ill help you read !ith more understanding and also save time and frustration
!hen you !rite your extended essay. It is useful to ta"e notes on index cards because it gives you the
flexibility to change the order of your notes and group them together easily. Pou can buy a fe!
pac"ages of +x6 index cards at most stationery stores.
<hat to do before you be(inD
1. 7no2 2hat 1ind of ideas you need to record
=ocus your approach to the topic before you start detailed research. Then you !ill read !ith a purpose in
mind# and you !ill be able to sort out relevant ideas.
&. 9onFt 2rite do2n too much Pour
extended essay must be an expression of your o!n thin"ing# not a patch!or" of borro!ed ideas. Plan
therefore to invest your research time in understanding your sources and integrating them into your o!n
thin"ing. Ase your note cards to record only ideas that are relevant to your focus on the topic1 and
summari.e rather than copy out or paraphrase.
. 6abel your notes clearly This !ill
save valuable time !hen and !riting your extended essay. &olour coding the
arguments or relevant facts may also assist you in evaluating the amount and -uality of your
research gathered for each argument.
:o2 do + do itD
2. >rite the subtopic heading of the note at the top of each note card.
3. >rite only one main point on a note card
4. ?nly !rite information directly related to your Thesis.
+. >rite only essential !ords# abbreviate !hen possible.
5. e accurate0 double chec" direct -uotes and statistics.
6. Identify direct -uotes !ith -uotation mar"s and the personUs name.
8. rac"et your o!n !ords W X !hen you add them into a -uote.
:. Ase ellipsis points $...% !here you leave out non-essential !ords from a -uote.
;. Distinguish bet!een UfactU and UopinionU.
2,. Include the source reference on the card.
22. >rite the page number of the source after the note.
23. 'valuation of /ource -- at the bottom of the note card provides a brief overvie! of the ?rigin#
Purpose# Malue and Bimitation for the source. $?ptional%
24. Ase the !ord UoverU to indicate information on the bac" of the card.
Sam$le *ote Card
F9);s 6eadershi$
Source5 7obert /. 9c 'lvaine# 'he Great !epression7 .merica, :;F;-:;=: $2;;4%
Cuote5 C=7Ds Beadership explains less about the changes the A/ under!ent in the 2;4,s than does a fundamental shift in
the values of the )merican peopleD ]page 4+2^
-$inion5 =oreign policy has been ignored except in those cases !here it !as directly related to the )merican Depression.
Analysis5 Ties made bet!een 2;:+ 7egans election and 2;46 Democratic presidential nomination of =D7.
Evaluation of Source5
This boo" combines social and political history as to achieve a fuller comprehension of the biggest crisis
)mericans have faced in this century# the attempts to deal !ith that crisis and the resulting alternation of the
nations attitudes and politics. The Point of vie! of the source is Traditionalist - 9c'lvaineUs account of the
Lreat Depression in the Anited /tates is a straightfor!ard narrative# largely chronological. over
" Structure
The First 9raft
This section covers supporting the submission of the first draft and your responsibilities in relation to
providing feedbac" on the first draft.
<ritin( a chec1list
)nother suggestion put for!ard by many experienced supervisors involves a chec"list for the first draft
and the final presentation copy.
There are many variations of the chec"list0
The first and most basic form of the chec"list is one that is used by the student to guide them !hen
presenting their first draft.
The supervisor !hen reading through the first draft can use a similar chec"list. This can be a little more
sophisticated involving the dimensions of critical analysis# historical judgement and historical
oth of these chec"lists can be used again# !ith some appropriate adjustments# for the final presentation
They should include the follo!ing examples0
Chec1in( references and biblio(ra$hies
It is advisable to remind your students before the date for handing in the first draft that you do expect
correct referencing and so on and remind them ho! to do it.
<ord count
This restriction is strictly enforced. 'xaminers are told not to read or mar" beyond the +#,,, !ords if
this is exceeded.
$he first draft: 0hec,list
)s a start you should ensure that students include in their submission the follo!ing elements0
research -uestion
contents page
page numbers
correct and consistent reference notes
<hat about the abstractD
Please note0 the abstract should not be !ritten until the essay has been completed.
4roblems to loo1 for5
'ssays !ith
no research -uestion and poor titles
unsuitable and*or# too !ide topics
too long introductions
!ea" and inconsistent referencing
essays !ith only -uotations referenced
bibliographies not listed correctly#
lac" of focus for example# the essay ans!ers a different -uestion
essays !hich exceed the !ord limit# and lie about it.
*dentifyin% the easy mar,s
V. surprisin number of essays "ould score M, even < mar$s more "ith careful attention to such basic
8/tended essay report (#istory) - 9ay 3,,4
Savin( mar1s the easy 2ay
>hen as"ed# a principal examiner !ill fre-uently identify !here the students lose easy mar"s. =rom
their long experience of assessment# they have identified for this !or"shop !here mar"s can be# $and
are%# lost0
Criteria 4roblem .ar1s lost
A no research -uestion $or thesis statement% 3
E no conclusion 3
F no abstract
abstract exceeds 4,, !ords
research -uestion# scope or conclusion is missing
G essays exceeds +#,,, !ords at least 4
no contents page# page numbers up to 4
A no evaluation of sources 4
)evisin( 9rafts
1e.ritin% is the essence of .ritin% the %ame is .on or lost.
J<illiam Pinsser
<hat this handout is about
This handout !ill motivate you to revise your drafts and give you strategies to revise effectively.
<hat does it mean to reviseD
7evision literally means to Vsee again#V to loo" at something from a fresh# critical perspective. It is an
ongoing process of rethin"ing the paper0 reconsidering your arguments# revie!ing your evidence#
refining your purpose# your presentation# reviving stale prose.
,ut + thou(ht revision 2as 'ust fixin( the commas and s$ellin(.
Hope. ThatUs called proofreading. ItUs an important step before turning your paper in# but if your ideas are
predictable# your thesis is !ea"# and your organi.ation is a mess# then proofreading !ill just be putting a
band-aid on a bullet !ound. >hen you finish revising# thatUs the time to proofread.
:o2 about if + 'ust re2ord thin(s5 loo1 for better 2ords0 avoid re$etition0 etc.D +s that
>ell# thatUs a part of revision called editing. ItUs another important final step in polishing your !or". ut
if you havenUt thought through your ideas# then rephrasing them !onUt ma"e any difference.
<hy is revision im$ortantD
>riting is a process of discovery# and you donUt al!ays produce your best stuff !hen you first get
started. /o revision is a chance for you to loo" critically at !hat you have !ritten to see
if itUs really !orth saying#
if it says !hat you !anted to say# and
if a reader !ill understand !hat youUre saying.
The $rocess
<hat ste$s should + use 2hen + be(in to reviseD
@ere are several things to do. ut donUt try them all at one time. Instead# focus on t!o or three main
areas during each revision session.
>ait a!hile after youUve finished a draft before loo"ing at it again. The 7oman poet @orace
thought one should !ait nine years# but thatUs a bit much. ) daya fe! hours even!ill !or".
>hen you do return to the draft# be honest !ith yourself# and donUt be la.y. )s" yourself !hat
you really thin" about the paper.
)s the /cott =oresman @andboo" for >riters puts it# VT@IH( IL# donUt tin"erV $62%. )t this
stage# you should be concerned !ith the large issues in the paper# not the commas.
&hec" the focus of the paper0 Is it appropriate to the assignmentG Is the topic too big or too
narro!G Do you stay on trac" through the entire paperG
Thin" honestly about your thesis0 Do you still agree !ith itG /hould it be modified in light of
something you discovered as you !rote the paperG Does it ma"e a sophisticated# provocative
point# or does it just say !hat anyone could say if given the same topicG Does your thesis
generali.e instead of ta"ing a specific positionG /hould it be changed altogetherG
Thin" about your purpose in !riting0 Does your introduction state clearly !hat you intend to doG
>ill your aims be clear to your readersG
<hat are some other ste$s + should consider in later sta(es of the revision $rocessD
'xamine the balance !ithin your paper0 )re some parts out of proportion !ith othersG Do you
spend too much time on one trivial point and neglect a more important pointG Do you give lots of
detail early on and then let your points get thinner by the endG
&hec" that you have "ept your promises to your readers0 Does your paper follo! through on
!hat the thesis promisesG Do you support all the claims in your thesisG )re the tone and
formality of the language appropriate for your audienceG
&hec" the organi.ation0 Does your paper follo! a pattern that ma"es senseG Do the transitions
move your readers smoothly from one point to the nextG Do the topic sentences of each
paragraph appropriately introduce !hat that paragraph is aboutG >ould your paper !or" better if
you moved some things aroundG &hec" your information0 )re all your facts accurateG )re any of
your statements misleadingG @ave you provided enough detail to satisfy readersU curiosityG @ave
you cited all your information appropriatelyG
&hec" your conclusion0 Does the last paragraph tie the paper together smoothly and end on a
stimulating note# or does the paper just die a slo!# redundant# lame# or abrupt deathG
<hoaN + thou(ht + could 'ust revise in a fe2 minutes.
/orry. Pou may !ant to start !or"ing on your next paper early so that you have plenty of time for
revising. That !ay you can give yourself some time to come bac" to loo" at !hat youUve !ritten !ith a
fresh pair of eyes. ItUs ho! something that sounded brilliant the moment you !rote it can prove
to be less-than-brilliant !hen you give it a chance to incubate.
,ut + donFt 2ant to re2rite my 2hole $a$erN
7evision doesnUt necessarily mean re!riting the !hole paper. /ometimes it means revising the thesis to
match !hat youUve discovered !hile !riting. /ometimes it means coming up !ith stronger arguments to
defend your position# or coming up !ith more vivid examples to illustrate your points. /ometimes it
means shifting the order of your paper to help the reader follo! your argument# or to change the
emphasis of your points. /ometimes it means adding or deleting material for balance or emphasis. )nd
then# sadly# sometimes revision does mean trashing your first draft and starting from scratch. etter that
than having the teacher trash your final paper.
,ut + 2or1 so hard on 2hat + 2rite that + canFt afford to thro2 any of it a2ay.
If you !ant to be a polished !riter# then you !ill eventually find out that you canUt afford H?T to thro!
stuff a!ay. )s !riters# !e often produce lots of material that needs to be tossed. The idea or metaphor or
paragraph that I thin" is most !onderful and brilliant is often the very thing that confuses my reader or
ruins the tone of my piece or interrupts the flo! of my argument. ) !riting teacher once told my class to
V(ill your babies.V /orry for the grim image# but she meant that !riters must be !illing to sacrifice their
favourite bits of !riting for the good of the piece as a !hole. In order to trim things do!n# though# you
first have to have plenty of material on the page. ?ne tric" is not to hinder yourself !hile you are
composing the first draft because the more you produce# the more you !ill have to !or" !ith !hen
cutting time comes.
,ut sometimes + revise as + (o.
ThatUs ?(. /ince !riting is a circular process# you donUt do everything in some specific order.
/ometimes you !rite something and then tin"er !ith it before moving on. ut be !arned0 there are t!o
potential problems !ith revising as you go. ?ne is that if you revise only as you go along# you never get
to thin" of the big picture. The "ey is still to give yourself enough time to loo" at the essay as a !hole
once youUve finished. )nother danger to revising as you go is that you may short-circuit your creativity.
If you spend too much time tin"ering !ith !hat is on the page# you may lose some of !hat hasnUt yet
made it to the page. @ereUs a tip0 DonUt proofread as you go. Pou may !aste time correcting the commas
in a sentence that may end up being cut any!ay.
:o2 do + (o about the $rocess of revisin(D Any ti$sD
>or" from hardcopy1 itUs easier on the eyes. )lso# problems that seem invisible on the screen
someho! tend to sho! up better on paper.
)nother tip is to read the paper out loud. ThatUs one !ay to see ho! !ell things flo!.
7emember all those -uestions listed aboveG DonUt try to tac"le all of them in one draft. Pic" a
fe! VagendasV for each draft so that you !onUt go mad trying to see all at once if youUve done
)s" lots of -uestions and donUt flinch from ans!ering them truthfully. =or example# as" if there
are opposing vie!points that you havenUt considered yet.
<henever + revise0 + 'ust ma1e thin(s 2orse. + do my best 2or1 2ithout revisin(.
ThatUs a common misconception that sometimes arises from fear# sometimes from la.iness. The truth is#
though# that except for those rare moments of inspiration or genius !hen the perfect ideas expressed in
the perfect !ords in the perfect order flo! gracefully and effortlessly from the mind# all experienced
!riters revise their !or". I !rote six drafts of this handout. @eming!ay re!rote the last page of .
-are"ell to .rms thirty-nine times. If youUre still not convinced# re-read some of your old papers. @o!
do they sound no!G >hat !ould you revise if you had a chanceG
<hat can (et in the 2ay of (ood revision strate(iesD
DonUt fall in love !ith !hat you have !ritten. If you do# you !ill be hesitant to change it even if you
"no! itUs not great. /tart out !ith a !or"ing thesis# and donUt act li"e youUre married to it. Instead# act
li"e youUre dating it# seeing if youUre compatible# finding out !hat itUs li"e from day to day. If a better
thesis comes along# let go of the old one. )lso# donUt thin" of revision as just re!ording. It is a chance to
loo" at the entire paper# not just isolated !ords and sentences.
<hat ha$$ens if + find that + no lon(er a(ree 2ith my o2n $ointD
If you ta"e revision seriously# sometimes the process !ill lead you to -uestions you cannot ans!er#
objections or exceptions to your thesis# cases that donUt fit# loose ends or contradictions that just !onUt go
a!ay. If this happens $and it !ill if you thin" long enough%# then you have several choices. Pou could
choose to ignore the loose ends and hope your reader doesnUt notice them# but thatUs ris"y. Pou could
change your thesis completely to fit your ne! understanding of the issue# or you could adjust your thesis
slightly to accommodate the ne! ideas. ?r you could simply ac"no!ledge the contradictions and sho!
!hy your main point still holds up in spite of them. 9ost readers "no! there are no easy ans!ers# so
they may be annoyed if you give them a thesis and try to claim that it is al!ays true !ith no exceptions
no matter !hat.
:o2 do + (et really (ood at revisin(D
The same !ay you get really good at golf# piano# or a video gamedo it often. Ta"e revision seriously#
be disciplined# and set high standards for yourself. @ere are three more tips0
The more you produce# the more you can cut.
The more you can imagine yourself as a reader loo"ing at this for the first time# the easier it !ill
be to spot potential problems.
The more you demand of yourself in terms of clarity and elegance# the clearer and more elegant
your !riting !ill be.
:o2 do + revise at the sentence levelD
7ead your paper out loud# sentence by sentence# and follo! Peter 'lbo!Us advice0 VBoo" for places
!here you stumble or get lost in the middle of a sentence. These are obvious a!"!ardnessUs that need
fixing. Boo" for places !here you get distracted or even bored!here you cannot concentrate. These
are places !here you probably lost focus or concentration in your !riting. &ut through the extra !ords
or vagueness or digression1 get bac" to the energy. Bisten even for the tiniest jer" or stumble in your
reading# the tiniest lessening of your energy or focus or concentration as you say the !ords . . . )
sentence should be aliveV $)ritin "ith 6o"er 245%.
Practical advice for ensuring that your sentences are alive0
Ase forceful verbsreplace long verb phrases !ith a more specific verb. =or example# replace
V/he argues for the importance of the ideaV !ith V/he defends the idea.V
Boo" for places !here youUve used the same !ord or phrase t!ice or more in consecutive
sentences and loo" for alternative !ays to say the same thing ?7 for !ays to combine the t!o
&ut as many prepositional phrases as you can !ithout losing your meaning. =or instance# the
follo!ing sentence# VThere are several examples of the issue of integrity in @uc" =inn#V !ould
be much better this !ay# V@uc" =inn repeatedly addresses the issue of integrity.V
&hec" your sentence variety. If more than t!o sentences in a ro! start the same !ay $!ith a
subject follo!ed by a verb# for example%# then try using a different sentence pattern.
)im for precision in !ord choice. DonUt settle for the best !ord you can thin" of at the moment
use a thesaurus $along !ith a dictionary% to search for the !ord that says exactly !hat you
!ant to say.
Boo" for sentences that start !ith VIt isV or VThere areV and see if you can revise them to be more
active and engaging.
<or1s consultedLadditional resources
)nson# &hris and 7obert /ch!egler. 'he 5onman #andboo$ for )riters and 2eaders, 3nd edition.
He! Por"0 Bongman# 3,,,. /ee part II# VDrafting and 7evising.V
'lbo!# Peter. )ritin )ith 6o"er. He! Por"0 ?xford AP# 2;;:. /ee especially Part III# V9ore >ays to
@airston# 9axine# Tohn 7us."ie!ic. and &hristy =riend. 'he &cott, -oresman #andboo$ for )riters.
6th ed. He! Por"0 Bongman# 3,,3. /ee &hapter 5# V@o! do you 7evise# 'dit# and ProofreadG
Banham# 7ichard. 2evisin 6rose. +th ed. oston0 )llyn and acon# 3,,,. This boo" is primarily
concerned !ith stylistic revisions# ma"ing your prose forceful and elegant.
Bunsford# )ndrea and 7obert &onnors. 'he (e" &t. Martin,s #andboo$, Mth edition. oston0 edford*/t.
9artinUs# 3,,4. /ee &hapter +# V7evising and 'diting.V
Finsser# >illiam. @n )ritin )ell. 6th ed. He! Por"0 @arper&ollins# 3,,2. /ee &hapter 28# V7e!riting
and >ord Processing.V
Ste$s in Editin( >$roofreadin(? @our 4a$ers
+dentify ty$ical errors
7evie! graded or scored comments on your old papers# and list errors !hich !ere mar"ed fre-uently.
e as specific as possible in gathering your list $for example# problems !ith introductory commas%.
.a1e a hierarchy
Determine !hich of the errors on your list occurred most often and*or cost you the most in points or
letter grades. 7an" the order the items on your list so that the most serious errors are on the top.
6earn conce$ts
9a"e sure that you understand !hy you made the errors on your list. Ase your hierarchy# !rite rules and
sample sentences in your noteboo" or in the bac" of your dictionary.
>rite your paper as you normally !ould# concentrating mainly on your ideas# not on rules or strategies.
A$$ly your strate(ies
>hen you finish !riting# ta"e a brea"# and then apply the strategies one at a time# using the rules and
sample sentences as reminders if you get stuc".
7emember that you are loo"ing for specific errors# not reading the paper. Lo completely through the
paper loo"ing for only one "ind of error at a time.
Pou !ill be able to focus your concentration and energy better that !ay.
Please note0 'diting is not a substitute for# but a supplement to# reading for meaning. =or best results# use
both methods.
4roofreadin( @our <or1
It is al!ays difficult to find errors in oneUs o!n !or". The !ords and sentences appear correct on
rereading because if the !riter had "no!n better# he or she !ould not have made the errors in the first
place. ut a careful rereading of a paper aloud before it is turned in helps considerably.
Perhaps a chec"list of common errors !ill serve as a guide for you. (eep this list and a grammar boo"
!ith you as you read your paper over# chec"ing every sentence for these items.
)un8on Sentences and Sentence Fra(ments
&hec" each sentence to ma"e sure it has a subject# a verb# and a complete thought.
@ave you run t!o sentences together incorrectly !ithout a period# conjunction or semicolon separating
@ave you ended every sentence !ith a period# -uestion mar"# or exclamation pointG
)re your thoughts !ithin sentences bro"en up correctly by commas for easier understandingG
@ave you bro"en up series !ith commasG
@ave you used a period after abbreviationsG
Cuotation .ar1s
Did you remember to place exact -uotes !ithin -uotation mar"sG
Did you place all periods and commas inside the -uotation mar"s !hile placing semicolons and colons
outside themG
Sub'ect8=erb A(reements
&hec" every subject and verb to ma"e sure that if you have used a singular subject# you have also used a
singular verb.
/imilarly# a plural subject needs a plural verb.
Sentence 6en(th
&ompute the average number of !ords per sentence. @o! close is that number compared to the average
of 33G
@ave you varied the length of sentences in each paragraphG
If your sentences are too long# brea" them into shorter units.
/entences that are very short tend to produce a jer"y style of !riting.
Does each sentence follo! clearly and logically from the one before itG @ave you used some type of
transitional device bet!een each sentenceG
@ave you used them correctly to indicate possessionG If youUre unsure# chec" a grammar boo".
@ave you incorrectly jumped about in different tensesG
@ave you used the correct form of the verb to express the tense you !antG
@ave you capitali.ed names of persons# cities# countries# streets# and titlesG
@ave you capitali.ed a -uotation according to the original and according to the needs of your sentenceG
&hec" any !ord you have doubts about.
If you are unsure of the spelling of a certain !ord# loo" it up.
e especially careful of the !ords listed as spelling nightmares0 VeiV and VieV !ords# !ords !hich add V-
ingV and Ved#V and !ords !ith one or more sets of double letters.
Does each paragraph have a topic sentence !hich states the main ideaG
@ave you used examples and vivid specific details to describe your topicG
@ave you used explanatory sentences to give your opinion or judgment on the topicG
@ave you included sentences !hich pertain only to that ideaG
)re transitions used bet!een sentences and paragraphsG
Is there a concluding sentenceG
@ave you left out any !ords in your sentencesG
" Tem$lates
Glenforest Secondary School
Extended Essay Title
Amandee$ Smith
En(lish Extended Essay
Total <ord Count5 7I#
Glenforest Secondary School
Secondary School
Table of Contents
)bstract......................................................................................................................... 2
7esearch Ouestion0 Place your 7esearch Ouestion here. $/ingle spaced%
Thesis0 Place your thesis here. $/ingle spaced%
Introduction.................................................................................................................. 3
)rgument 2 I $Titles !ill vary depending on '' subject%............................................+
)rgument 3 I................................................................................................................ 8
)rgument 4 I.............................................................................................................22
)rgument + I.............................................................................................................24
ibliography............................................................................................................... 2+
)ppendix $7ecommended for /cience ''s ?nly%
)ppendix ) ................................................................................................................ 25
)ppendix ................................................................................................................26
)ppendix & ................................................................................................................28
T?T)B >?7D &?AHT______________________..48;:
Secondary School
Table of Contents
Secondary School
A$$endix A
9c'lroy# >.D.# Cell 6hysioloy and 1iochemistry# 4rd ed.# =oundations of 9odern iology /eries
$'ngle!ood &liffs# H.T.0 Prentice-@all# 2;82%.
Secondary School
Secondary School
ohlman# @erbert 9.# and 9ary Tane Dundas. The Begal# 'thical and International
'nvironment of usiness. 5th ed. &incinnati# ?@0 >est# 3,,3.
olman# Bee L.# and Terrence '. Deal. Beading !ith /oul0 )n Ancommon Tourney
of /pirit. 7ev. ed. /an =rancisco0 Tossey-ass# 3,,2.
&alvesi# and Boren.o &anova# eds. 7ejoiceN 8,, Pears of )rt for the Papal
Tubilee. He! Por"0 7i..oli# 2;;;.
&ohen# )ndre!# and T.B. Lranatstein# eds. TrudeauUs /hado!0 The Bife and Begacy
of Pierre 'lliott Trudeau. Toronto0 7andom# 2;;:.
@eath# Toseph# and )ndre! Potter. The 7ebel /ell0 >hy the &ulture &anUt e Tammed.
3nd ed. Toronto0 @arper# 3,,5.
Ble!ellyn# 9arc# and Bee 9ylne. =rommerUs )ustralia 3,,5. @obo"en# HT0 >iley# 3,,5.
/ummers# )nthony# and 7obbyn /!an. /inatra0 The Bife. He! Por"0 (nopf# 3,,5.
Secondary School
Secondary School

Sub'ect Su((estions
Examiner )e$orts
)eflections of an Extended Essay Examiner
y0 @ugh 7obertson
The success of an extended essay is shaped largely during the preparatory stages. 9ajor !ea"nesses#
such as broad topics# lac" of focus# and vague research -uestions# can be traced directly to the research
phase. The iceberg analogy illustrates clearly the importance of the analysis*research*experimentation
that underpins the completed essay.
/ince the initial !or" is so crucial# consider follo!ing the steps outlined belo! as you prepare your
extended essay.
/elect a subject in !hich you have an interest# preferably one of your diploma subjects.
7ead the subject guideline in The 'xtended 'ssay that is relevant to your subject.
9eet your supervisor to discuss your choice of subject and to map out a schedule.
Dra! up a list of research topics that interest you.
Discuss the topics !ith your supervisor and then decide on one.
7ead about your topic and narro! it to a number of challenging issues or problems.
/elect one issue or problem as the focus for your essay.
=ormulate a precise and challenging research -uestion or a hypothesis.
Anderta"e your analysis*research*experimentation using primary and secondary sources.
/hape the structure of your ans!er by creating a series of detailed outlines.
7ough out the complete essay from title page to bibliography.
7evise and edit the rough draft carefully.
7eread the assessment criteria to ensure that your draft addresses all of them.
7emember that an extended essay has a central thesis# argument or point of vie!.
?nce you have revised and edited your rough draft you are ready to assemble the final copy. The one-
tenth of the iceberg above !ater represents your completed extended essay. /ince one-tenth of the
overall project counts for 2,,S of the mar"# pac"age it !ith painsta"ing care. Ase the follo!ing list of
common !ea"nesses as a chec"list !hen you assemble your essay.
Provide a concise title that clearly indicates the focus of the essay. Do not use your research -uestion or
hypothesis as your title.
)n abstract is not an introduction# although there is some overlap. )n abstract is a synopsis of the essay.
It also sets the tone of the essay.
Table of contents
The contents page outlines the main sections !ith corresponding page numbers. It also indicates the
structure of the essay.
)lthough not listed as a criterion of assessment# an introduction is an important component of an
extended essay. The research -uestion or purpose of the essay should be clearly spelled out and the
thesis or argument should be succinctly stated.
,ody and develo$ment
This is the longest and most important section. Its sole function is the development and substantiation of
the thesis or argument. 'liminate all irrelevant descriptive# narrative# biographical and anecdotal details.
7emember that last impressions are lasting impressions. The conclusion pulls the essay together and
sums up the major points that shaped the thesis.
Ase -uotations judiciously and integrate them smoothly into the text of the essay. They are fre-uently
used to excess and parachuted into the essay as space fillers.
?rgani.ation enhances the clarity of your thesis. Plan the structure of your essay carefully and ensure
that your paragraphs reflect your plan.
>rite your essay in a style that is clear and smooth and in a tone that is formal and scholarly. Precise#
articulate expression has persuasive po!er.
Bonger essays in certain subjects# li"e the sciences# might re-uire section headings. @o!ever# headings
can fragment the flo! of the argument. 'ffective paragraphing !ill often eliminate the need for
subheadings and chapters.
>hether you are citing a -uotation# an idea# an illustration or Internet information# you must document
the source. 'nsure that you use a major documentation style that is pertinent to the subject from !hich
you topic is dra!n.
The most successful essays are in the 4#3,, I 4#:,, !ord range. Prune and cut your rough draft as you
revise and edit so that your final copy is a crisp# clear# and cogent piece of !riting. 7emember that
!ords should be !eighed# not counted.
Formal $resentation
Proofread your essay meticulously from the title page to bibliography. Ase computer technology to
enhance the layout. )n error-free and attractively laid out essay !ill have a positive impact on the
)ll material placed in the appendix must be directly relevant to your thesis. This material must be cross-
referenced to the development of the thesis.
The computer is simply a tool and its effectiveness as a tool is determined by ho! you use it. 'valuate
and filter Internet information !ith caution. 9indlessly do!nloading data and pasting it into essay
format does not constitute critical thin"ing and may be plagiarism.
GFSS En(lish Extended Essay
If you have chosen 'nglish as the subject area for your extended essay you !ill be !riting a detailed
literary analysis on a topic related to one or t!o major !or"s of literature. The essay !ill be a piece of
formal !riting and formatted using the 9B) style Luide.
Pour extended essay must be text specific. Bapsing into discussion of social issues arising from the
text$s% is unacceptable. )n analysis of /ha"espeares treatment of anti-/emitism in the 9erchant of
Menice !ould be an acceptable topic but a discussion of the treatment of Te!s in the 26
century using
the play as an example !ould not.
Please Hote0
The choice of text$s% must be approved by your teacher-mentor.
Pour thesis !ill be generated by you after discussion !ith your mentor.
It is the role of the mentor to guide you through the 'xtended 'ssay process# not do your !or"
for you.
Pour mentor !ill not edit your essay. That is your job.
/tudents !ithout strong analytical s"ills are unli"ely to be successful.
+, EE Guide 88 Treatment of the to$ic G En(lish A1
Biterary !or"s often address# for example# philosophical# political or social -uestions. @o!ever# the
major focus of the essay should be the literary treatment of such -uestions. The literary !or"s should not
be a pretext for interdisciplinary study and should not be treated simply as documentary evidence in a
discussion of philosophical# political or social issues. /tudents should al!ays consider ho! the texts
!or" as literature# dealing !ith aspects such as the effects they achieve# the devices they use and the !ay
they are !ritten.
/tudents should not use the extended essay solely as a vehicle for their o!n thoughts but# after providing
careful analysis of the authors ideas# should present their personal vie!s on the !ay the author has
treated the subject. There should be a compromise bet!een building on the !isdom of more experienced
critics and introducing ne! personal elements. The mere reiteration of the vie!s of established literary
critics !ill not result in a successful extended essay.
>hen !riting the essay# students must bear in mind that any narrative and*or descriptive material
included should be directly relevant to the critical analysis. ) pr`cis of the students reading is not
Interpreting the assessment criteria
Criterion A5 research /uestion
)lthough the aim of the essay can best be defined in the form of a -uestion# it may also be presented as
a statement or proposition for discussion. ) research -uestion that is too narro! or too obvious !ill
normally be deemed to be one that does not lend itself to systematic investigation in an extended essay.
Criterion ,5 introduction
The context should be established succinctly and should not be an excuse for padding out an essay !ith
a lengthy account of the historical or biographical context of a literary text. Instead# the introduction
should focus on the research -uestion and the students reasons for choosing it. In some cases# students
may be able to say ho! it relates to existing "no!ledge on the topic but# since they cannot be expected
to "no! the !hole range of secondary !riting on major texts# it is sufficient for them to state briefly
!hy they have chosen their particular research -uestion and !hat they thin" it has to offer.
Criterion C5 investi(ation
The range of resources includes# in the first place# the primary texts being studied $and# possibly# other
!ritings by the author$s% in -uestion# such as essays# journals and letters% and# less importantly#
secondary sources such as published criticism on those texts. The proper planning of an essay should
involve interrogating secondary sources in light of the research -uestion# so that the vie!s of critics are
used to support the students o!n argument# and not as a substitute for that argument. It may thus be
helpful for a student to challenge a statement by a critic instead of simply agreeing !ith it. In a literary
context# the data gathered is principally the evidence the student finds in the primary text$s% to support
the argument of the essay. If students ma"e use of Internet-based sources# they should do so critically
and circumspectly in full a!areness of their potential unreliability.
Criterion 95 1no2led(e and understandin( of the to$ic studied
The topic studied here is principally the primary text$s% that is*are the focus of the essay. The -uality of
the students understanding of the primary text$s% is the main concern. The use of secondary sources is
not an essential re-uirement0 this may be helpful in the case of classic texts# enabling discussion to start
at a higher level# but it should not replace the students personal engagement !ith the primary text$s%.
Criterion E5 reasoned ar(ument
/tudents should be a!are of the need to give their essays the bac"bone of a developing argument.
Personal vie!s should not simply be stated but need to be supported by reasoned argument to persuade
the reader of their validity. /traightfor!ard description of a literary text through plot summary or
narration of the action does not usually advance an argument and should generally be avoided $although#
!here a little-"no!n text is under discussion# a brief description may be appropriate%.
Criterion F5 a$$lication of analytical and evaluative s1ills a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
)ppropriate application of analytical and evaluative s"ills here is the use of persuasive analysis and
argument to support a personal interpretation. /econd-hand interpretations that are derived solely from
secondary sources !ill lose mar"s under this criterion# as !ill purely descriptive essays that list
examples of literary motifs but fail to analyse them.
Criterion G5 use of lan(ua(e a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
There is no single acceptable style for essays# !hich may be !ell-!ritten in different !ays!ith# for
example# different degrees of personal emphasis# some !riters using the first person and others
preferring a more impersonal mode of expression. &larity and precision of communication in a group 2
essay includes the correct use of language.
Criterion :5 conclusion
C&onsistentD is the "ey !ord here0 the conclusion should develop out of the argument and not introduce
ne! or extraneous matter. It should not repeat the material of the introduction1 rather# it should present a
ne! synthesis in light of the discussion.
Criterion +5 formal $resentation
This criterion refers to the extent to !hich the essay conforms to academic standards about the !ay in
!hich research papers should be presented. The presentation of essays that omit a bibliography or do not
give references*citations for -uotations is deemed unacceptable $level ,%. 'ssays that omit one of the
re-uired elementstitle page# table of contents# page numbersare deemed no better than satisfactory
$maximum level 3%# !hile essays that omit t!o of them are deemed poor at best $maximum level 2%.
Criterion A5 abstract
The abstract is judged on the clarity !ith !hich it presents the three re-uired elements# not on the -uality
of the research -uestion itself# nor on the -uality of the argument or the conclusions.
Criterion 75 holistic 'ud(ment
This criterion allo!s examiners to re!ard !or" that sho!s initiative# creativity and insight# even if the
essay does not achieve the highest standard overall. 7outine essays on !ell-!orn topics !ill not score
highly under this criterion.
En(lish A1 Examiner )e$ort .ay &%1%
The ran(e and suitability of the 2or1 submitted
'xaminers !ere again generally impressed by the range and variety of the topics attempted $from
&haucer to ob Dylan# as one examiner put it%# !ith many stronger candidates loo"ing beyond the
classical canon to find challenging texts and productive research -uestions. There !ere excellent essays
on (erouacs @n the 2oad and on 7ushdies 'he &atanic Verses1 on Q'xplorations of identity and
authority in three stories by )ngela &arter and on a comparison of Pynchons 'he Cryin of 5ot =; and
9ura"amis QThe 'lephant Manishes1 and on Q?bsession in Tean 7hyss 'he )ide &arasso &ea and
QDon Delillos )hite (oise as postmodernisms memento mori. >or"ing !ithin the canon# one
candidate produced a brilliant essay on the depiction of =rench !omen in three /ha"espeare plays# !hile
another presented a careful and thoughtful analysis of the treatment of reason and passion in #amlet and
/idneys @ld .rcadia. In many of the best essays the research -uestion !as firmly focused on literary
techni-ue# !ith titles such as0 Q'xploring the unreliable narrative voice and the problem of memory in
(a.uo Ishiguros )hen "e "ere @rphans# or Q=ood imagery in )my Tans Aoy 5uc$ Club and 'he
*itchen GodLs )ife. =raming the investigation in this !ay prevents candidates from lapsing into simply
re-telling the story# !hich is the common failing of !ea"er essays.
)t the other end of the scale there !ere many essays on popular teenage fiction !hich rarely rose above
enthusiastic but uncritical exposition of theme and character. /uch texts proved insufficiently
challenging for a satisfactory literary essay# though some candidates managed to lift their !or" a little
above the mediocre by pairing the contemporary vampire story !ith a novel such as !racula. There
!ere# as al!ays# a number of essays on !ell-!orn topics such as a comparison of (ineteen 8ihty--our
!ith other dystopian novels# and on Tane )ustens novels. >here candidates tread these familiar paths
only an imaginative research -uestiona recent example being the role of conversation in t!o )usten
novelsis li"ely to raise the essay above the satisfactory level. )s usual# a common pitfall for those
interested in the socio-historical or political dimension of fictional !or"s !as to treat them simply as
documentary evidence rather than examining ho! they !or" as literary texts.
There !ere# as al!ays# some essays that !ere unsuitable because they dealt exclusively !ith translated
texts and thus lost a minimum of eight mar"s no matter ho! accomplished and interesting they may
have been. It is imperative for schools to note that at least one of the primary texts discussed in an
'nglish )2 'ssay must have originally been !ritten in 'nglish.
Candidate $erformance a(ainst each criterion
A5 research /uestion
)part from the "inds of failings outlined above# most essays satisfactorily defined a research -uestion#
although in some cases that -uestion !as better formulated in the )bstract than in the Introduction.
&learly# satisfying this criterion is an essential prere-uisite of a successful essay. /tudents should al!ays
integrate the -uestion into their introduction even though it may be clearly stated in their title# other!ise
they ris" losing mar"s.
,5 introduction
This proved to be a problem in many essays in that the introduction made little or no attempt to provide
a context for the research -uestion and to ma"e a case for its significance. &andidates need to as"
themselves !hy their research -uestion is !orth investigating and to give their reasons in the
C5 investi(ation
/ome essays consulted no sources other than the primary texts. >hile this !as legitimate !ith recent
texts !here there is no body of published criticism# essays on !ell-"no!n texts !ere usually better
!here some sources !ere consulted $as long as they !ere not just /par"Hotes# >i"ipedia or internet
material of dubious value%.
95 1no2led(e and understandin( of the to$ic studied
9ost essays sho!ed a good# or at least ade-uate# "no!ledge and understanding of the topic# although
only the best !ere able to situate it in an academic context.
E5 reasoned ar(ument
) common !ea"ness here !as to d!ell on descriptive accounts of texts or plot summaries rather than
developing an argument. Producing a !ell-organi.ed and persuasive argument in relation to research
findings is a difficult s"ill and it re-uires considerable practice before embar"ing on a final draft of the
F5 a$$lication of analytical and evaluative s1ills a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
This !as !here the better students distinguished themselves from the more ordinary by presenting
personal and illuminating analysis of the primary texts. >ea"er essays failed to move on from
descriptive comment to analysis# or relied on citing secondary sources for their analysis rather than
engaging personally !ith the texts. There !as a tendency for candidates !ho !rote about poetry to
discuss individual !ords or very brief phrases !ithout referring to their context. 'ven if the comments
!ere valid# this led to fragmentation and a failure to address the meaning of the poem as a !hole.
G5 use of lan(ua(e a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
9ost essays scored 3 or 4 here# though there !ere many fluent and elo-uent essays at one end of the
scale and stumbling and garbled ones at the other end. /ome essays !ere over-ornate in their style#
!hich tends not to impress examiners. 9any could have been easily improved by careful proof-reading
before submission.
:5 conclusion
9ost essays made a fair attempt at a conclusion# though many simply restated the material of the
introduction# thus forfeiting one mar".
+5 formal $resentation
) small number of essays lost mar"s -uite unnecessarily by omitting a contents page or page numbers
etc. )nother problem !as failure to follo! a standard method of documentation for the citation of
sources and the composition of a bibliography. Too often footnotes repeated the full title of a primary
text every time it !as cited# rather than giving the full reference for the first citation and thereafter
giving page references in parentheses. @o!ever# many essays !ere very !ell presented# and that number
should increase !ith careful supervision.
A5 abstract
/upervisors should note ho! the three re-uired elements of the )bstract are defined in the ne! criteria#
since one common failing !as to present a summary of the argument rather than an account of ho! the
investigation !as conducted. There !ere also many examples of )bstracts that !ere inappropriate
because they !ere !ritten as a form of introduction# setting out in the future tense !hat the essay !ould
do. /ome omitted# or did not state clearly enough# the conclusions.
75 holistic 'ud(ment
There !ere fe! very lo! mar"s under this criterion for most essays sho!ed some intellectual initiative
and understanding# and the best !ere impressive pieces of individual research.
)ecommendations for the su$ervision of future candidates
It is important# as most supervisors already "no!# to ensure that one of the principal texts for the essay
!as originally !ritten in 'nglish# and to instruct students in a standard method of documentation for
citing sources and compiling a bibliography. Page references to the primary texts are best given in
parentheses# and long strings of footnotes or endnotes referring in full to the same text are best avoided.
/tudents should be urged to proof-read their essays carefully before submission. >here essays focus on
a reading of a number of poems# an appendix containing the texts of those poems is most helpful# as
most supervisors seem to be a!are.
@elping define a fruitful and manageable research -uestion is the main challenge for supervisors. They
are advised to steer candidates a!ay from biographical topics $e.g. examining a !riters !or"s as
reflections of his or her life%# as these almost inevitably result in essays that are merely speculative# un-
analytical and second-hand. It may help to choose literary texts that are less !ell-"no!n but of clear
literary value. >ith classic texts it is advisable to find a topic and an approach that !ill prevent the
candidate from having to go over too much !ell-trodden ground. >ith such texts judicious use of
secondary sources may enable the argument to begin at a higher level# and it is important for supervisors
to guide candidates to!ards finding a balance bet!een offering their o!n reading in ignorance of all
secondary sources and relying so much on them that that all personal response is smothered. /tudents
should be encouraged to loo"# and thin"# beyond basic study guides and to treat >i"ipedia and internet
sites !ith caution. /upervisors should bear in mind that it is the students o!n research into the text that
is most important.
>ith the ne! criteria# the introduction may re-uire particular attention from supervisors. &andidates
should be encouraged to define !hat they are researching and to integrate their research -uestion into
the introduction even though it may be clearly set out in the title. They also need to be urged to provide a
context for their research -uestion and to state !hy it is !orth investigating. /upervisors should face
them !ith the simple -uestion0 !hy have you chosen this research -uestionG
GFSS :istory Extended Essays
=irst as" yourself0 Q>hat is the -uestion actually as"ingG
Ta"e relevant notes as you read. 7emember to note the necessary bibliographical information from each text.
Try to ta"e notes mainly in your o!n !ords. Ta"ing -uotes should be done sparingly and 9A/T be accurate
I be2are of $la(iarism.
Plan your essays argument I give your essay a logical structure that develops the points you !ish to ma"e.
>rite a draft and ta"e time to improve the final product.
Pour essay should have a proper structure. This includes an introduction# a main body and a conclusion made
up of sensible sentences and paragraphs. Please avoid using personal pronouns $I# me# my etc.% in your essay.
@and your !or" in on time.
It is recommendable to read your essay aloud to ensure it ma"es sense.
=ootnotes are used to sho! your use of evidence. Pou should footnote -uotes# figures and statistics# and !hen
summarising factual material or another authors opinion or argument.
Pour bibliography lists all the relevant sources you have read to construct your essay.
Pour essay should be double spaced# !ith a 2 inch $3.5 cm% !ide margins# paragraphs indented or spaced#
each page numbered $top right% and !ith your name on it $use headers or footers%.
4lannin( your essay
)a,e an outline plan. )fter you have done your investigation it is a good idea ma"e a rough plan for ho! you
intend to proceed. This may change as you develop each point# but it helps to "eep your essay coherent and
*ntroduction. )n introduction is a clear statement of your essays argument and any conclusions you have come
to regarding the -uestion. )fter reading your introduction the mar"er should have a clear idea of ho! you intend
to argue your points.
?ftentimes# the introduction is !ritten after you have !ritten the main body of your essay# and often after you
have !ritten the conclusion. This ensures that your introduction covers !hat you actually argue# not !hat you
originally intended to argueN
$he )ain 3ody. The body of your essay provides the in-depth argument and analysis of your essay. 'nsure you
!rite in complete sentences and paragraphs. 'ach paragraph should relate to one major idea or a group of lesser
related ideas.
If you thin" of a paragraph as a mini-essay this can help !ith your structure. The first sentence states the topic
$li"e an introduction%# then further sentences develop that argument and support it !ith evidence. The final
sentence brings closure to the idea $li"e a conclusion%. The ending sentence of each paragraph should connect in
some !ay !ith the introductory sentence of the next paragraph so that the essay feels li"e a coherent piece of
!riting# not a cluster of separate ideas.
In practice this arrangement of sentences in a paragraph is much more flexible# and rigidly follo!ing such a
structure could ma"e your essay some!hat dull# but the "ey elements are important to "eep in mind.
0onclusion. Pour conclusion should be one of the last things you !rite. It is a summary of your argument and is
closely related to your introduction# ho!ever should not be the same. ) useful -uestion to as" !hen considering
your conclusion is QSo <hatD Pou have just spent an essay developing an argument - !hat you have achievedG
&an your essay be a starting point for future researchG >hat do your findings say about the current !orldG Try to
ma"e your conclusion mean something more than your introduction.
Essay style
Do not use contractions0 use cannot or do not rather than canLt and donLt
Do not use abbreviations or symbols0 !rite e/ample rather than e.. or percent rather than N
Do not use pronouns in your essay0 it is better to use neutral phrases such as Cit is clearD or Cit follo!sD rather
than CI thin"D or Cin my opinionD. )s you !rote the essay it is obviously !hat you thin"# so this does not
need to be made obvious by using personal pronouns.
)postrophes0 are only used to indicate possession and contractions $not to ma"e a !ord plural%. )s indicated
above# contractions are not used in formal essays therefore you should only use apostrophes if you are
indicating possession.
=or example0
'he dress of the irl becomes 'he irlLs dress
Please note0 )ll of these !ords D? H?T have apostrophes0
his hers theirs ours yours its $itLs is a contraction of it is or it has%
Parentheses# also "no!n as brac"ets0 should be used sparingly. If you are considering using parentheses
decide !hether the information is important enough to include. If so# try to rephrase so that you do not need
to use parentheses. If not# then delete it.
=oreign !ords0 do not translate !ell "no!n terms such as raison dLetre, coup dLetat, 2ealpoliti$. =oreign
!ords should be put in italics.
)void collo-uial expressions.
Ouotations0 use these sparingly. Ouotations must be accurate. 7eproduce the !ords# spelling# capitalisation
and punctuation of your source exactly. It is assumed all -uotes are reproduced accurately# but if you !ant to
stress that any mista"e or error is not yours you can place the !ord Qsic in s-uare brac"ets immediately after
the incorrect item. Hote that as Qsic is a Batin !ord $meaning Qthus% it must be italicised.
=or example0 CThe dynamic relationship bet!een leadership and society WsicX can be seen in the attitude
of the elected leader to!ards the citi.enry.D
?ccasionally you may need to add you o!n !ords or letters to a -uotation in order to ma"e it fit !ithin your
essay. This should also be done sparingly $try to change your sentence to ma"e it fit naturally !ithout
amendments if possible%# but !hen needed you can add in your o!n !ords !ithin s-uare brac"ets.
=or example0 CW)fter >orld >ar ?neX it !as assumed that the !orld !ould never again be involved in
conflict of that magnitude.D
It is important that !hen you add !ords you do not alter the meaning of the -uote. =or example0 in the above
-uote it !ould be unacceptable to say CW)fter >orld >ar T!oX it !as assumed that the !orld !ould never
again be involved in conflict of that magnitude.D
Ouotations should be put !ithin -uotation mar"s. 7emember to open and close them. Punctuation usually
goes outside the -uotation mar"s. If you use a long -uotation $!hich is not usually advisable% then you
should indent the -uotation# ma"e the font slightly smaller# and omit the -uotation mar"s.
/tay !ithin the !ord limit. 7emember that sometimes less is more# since it forces you to be concise and to
the point. 'xtended 'ssay >ord limit is +,,, !ords. Jou should try to $eep your 88 lenth to be no shorter
than KF>> "ords and no more than K<>>.

Footnotes and ,iblio(ra$hy
=ootnotes are numbered references that point from a particular sentence $or sentences% of your essay to the
location of the sources of your direct -uotations# figures and statistics# factual material# and ideas or arguments
that you have ta"en from other authors.
=ootnotes are important to master as they represent expertise# rigour and accuracy in your use of evidence.
Pour footnote number !ill go at the end of a sentence $using an 9/>ord document you can do this automatically
by going to QInsert# Q7eference# Q=ootnote. Im sure there is a similar function on 9acs%. That number !ill
refer to another number listed at the bottom of the page. Hext to this number you !ill include the details of your
source for the information. There is a specific format for doing this# and you !ill probably see a fe! variations of
this. &hoose the format that is most logical to you but ma"e sure that it is clear and consistent throughout your
!hole essay.
The :istory Format is ta1en from The Chica(o manual of Style5
Lary (ates# 'he -rench 2evolution7 2ecent !ebates and (e" Controversies $Bondon and He! Por"0 7outledge# 2;;:%# 3.
+n other 2ords5
=irstname /urname# 'itle of boo$ $Place of publication0 Publishing company# Pear of publication%# Page number.
The bibliography is a list at the end of your essay $usually on a separate page% that lists all the boo"s you
used in your research. The major difference bet!een ho! a bibliography is structured and ho! a
footnote is structured is that the authors name is listed surname first in the bibliography. The
bibliography is then listed in alphabetical order by surname.
For exam$le5
(ates# Lary# 'he -rench 2evolution7 2ecent !ebates and (e" Controversies $Bondon and He! Por"0 7outledge#
(elly# )lfred @.# Q)merican Political Beadership0 The ?ptimistic 'thical >orld Mie! and the Teffersonian
/ynthesis# in 5eadership in the .merican 2evolution $>ashington0 Bibrary of &ongress# 2;8+%.
+, EE Guide 88 Treatment of the to$ic G :istory
Choice of to$ic
The topic chosen must focus on the human past# be !orthy of study# and lend itself to systematic
investigation in line !ith the published assessment criteria. 'ssays that focus on events of the last 2,
years are not acceptable# as these are regarded as current affairs# not history.
It is not a re-uirement for the topic to be chosen from the Diploma Programme history course# but it
must be acceptable to the supervisor. It should provide an opportunity for critical analysis of source
material# and not depend on general secondary sources $such as textboo"s and
encyclopaedias%# as this approach is li"ely to lead to an essay that is essentially narrative or descriptive.
The topic chosen must be suitable for effective treatment !ithin the +#,,,-!ord limit# so those that cover
many aspects of history# and*or a long time period# are unli"ely to produce successful essays. Harro!ing
the scope of the essay !ill help to ensure a clear focus# and !ill also allo! students to demonstrate
detailed and specific historical "no!ledge# understanding and critical analysis.
The follo!ing examples of titles for history extended essays are intended as guidance only. The pairings
illustrate that focused topics $indicated by the first title% should be encouraged rather than broad topics
$indicated by the second title%. Hote that it is not necessary to have a separate title for an extended essay
in history# as the research -uestion or hypothesis can be used on the cover as !ell as in the abstract and
essay. It is usually better if this is the case# because it avoids confusion and helps the student to obtain a
clear focus. @o!ever# most students start by thin"ing in terms of a !ider topic and the follo!ing
CTreatment of the topicD section gives guidance on defining and narro!ing it.
R C&auses of the collapse of the 9ayan civili.ationD is better than CThe 9ayan civili.ationD.
R CMarying interpretations of the /alem !itch trialsD is better than C>itch trials in Horth )mericaD.
R CAse of the visual arts in fascist propagandaD is better than C=ascist propagandaD.
R C/talins use of the party machine and terrorD is better than CThe /oviet Anion under /talinD.
R CThe role of the Pan-)frican movement in the do!nfall of (!ame H"rumah in 2;66D is better than
C(!ame H"rumahD.
Treatment of the to$ic
It is important that the topic# as stated in the research -uestion# is appropriate for a history extended
essay. >here topics could be approached from different vie!points# such as economics or geography#
the treatment of material must meet the subject re-uirements of history.
/tudents must choose a research -uestion that is not of a trivial nature. 7esearch -uestions that do not
lead to systematic investigation# critical analysis and detailed understanding are unli"ely to be suitable.
/ocial history does include areas such as music and sport# but these are only acceptable for a history
extended essay if they are tac"led from a historical perspective. )de-uate available sources are essential.
If it is clear at an early stage in the research that they are not# a change of topic or focus should be made.
7esearch re-uires the use of sources. Ideally# primary sources !ill be included but an essay that uses
only secondary sources !ill not be dis-ualified. 9any different approaches to the research -uestion can
be appropriate# for instance0
R using primary and secondary sources in order to establish and appraise varying interpretations
R analysing sources in order to explain changing vie!s over time of particular happenings or
R using source material for a case study or local history project# perhaps leading to a comparison of local
and national developments
R collecting and analysing oral and !ritten data from family and other contacts to help explain past
happenings# perhaps leading to a comparison of local and national developments
R using all available sources to ans!er the -uestion posed.
/ome examples of titles# research -uestions and approaches chosen in the past include the follo!ing.
Marying interpretations of the /alem !itch trials
)esearch /uestion
>hich theory best explains the /alem !itch trialsG
ac"ground reading is underta"en to enable identification and explanation of t!o dominant theories as
to !hy the trials too" place. The merits of the t!o theories are appraised using data obtained about the
accused and the accusers.
The influence of Hational /ocialist ideology on the Lerman school system in the late 2;4,s0 a case study
)esearch /uestion
To !hat extent !ere @itlers educational aims fulfilled in the Ahland Lymnasium# 2;48I2;4;G
7eading is underta"en to enable a summari.ation of Hational /ocialist ideology and curriculum
proposals. Primary sources $teachers records% are used to establish ho! far the proposed changes !ere
put into practice in one school during 2;48I2;4;.
&hanging vie!s of the 2;63 &uban missile crisis
)esearch /uestion
@o! and !hy have explanations of the &uban missile crisis changed since 2;63G
Leneral reading is underta"en for a historical introduction and note ta"ing. The vie!s of a number of
historians are summari.ed in order to understand# categori.e and evaluate selected explanations of the
2;63 missile crisis in the 2;6,s# 2;8,s and 2;:,s.
The value and reliability of sources should not be accepted uncritically in history extended essays#
especially !hen the authenticity of some of the sources is -uestionable. /tudents can sho! a!areness of
the value and limitations of the main sources used in their investigation through analysing their origin
and purpose. $>ho !ere the authorsG >hat !ere their intentionsG Is it li"ely that any of the sources have
been alteredG% 7elevant outcomes of this analysis should be integrated into the students argument $or at
least considered in footnotes%.
/tudents should aim to produce an argument that consistently sho!s good historical understanding in
setting the research -uestion into context# and addressing it fully and effectively. The argument should
also be !ell substantiated# based on relevant specific evidence produced !ith added analytical
Lood critical analysis and historical judgment can be demonstrated through a sound assessment of
source material and differing explanations and interpretations. ?pportunities for reporting and assessing
differing interpretations !ill vary !ith the topic chosen1 students !ill gain credit for explaining !hy a
historian reached the interpretation# not just for stating it.
)n extended essay in history is a formal essay that is mar"ed according to the assessment criteria. )n
essay may appear to be satisfactory but it !ill not score !ell if the criteria are ignored.
+nter$retin( the assessment criteria
Criterion A5 research /uestion
The research -uestion must be appropriate to the particular subject in !hich the essay is submitted. In
history# this means that it must focus on the human past and not be of a trivial nature. The research
-uestion must be clearly and exactly focused# and stated in both the abstract and the introduction of the
Criterion ,5 introduction
The introduction should explain succinctly the significance and context of the topic# !hy it is !orthy of
investigation and# !here appropriate# ho! the research -uestion relates to existing "no!ledge. It should
not be used for lengthy# irrelevant bac"ground material.
Criterion C5 investi(ation
The range of resources available !ill be influenced by various factors# but above all by the topic.
/tudents should aim to ma"e use of both primary and secondary sources but this may not al!ays be
possible. The data gathered should be the evidence found in the sources to establish the context and to
support the argument and conclusion of the essay. Proper planning of an essay should involve integrating
source material# both factual and historians vie!s# in light of the research -uestion. The latter should be
used to support the students o!n argument and not as a substitute for it. ) statement by a historian
should be challenged !here there is evidence to do so.
)ll material used from sources must be ac"no!ledged in references. If students ma"e use of Internet-
based sources# they should do so critically and circumspectly in full a!areness of their potential
Criterion 95 1no2led(e and understandin( of the to$ic studied
The essay should have a solid foundation of specific relevant "no!ledge# !hose meaning is understood
by the student. This "no!ledge can then be analysed and# on the basis of this analysis# an argument can
be formed and a conclusion to the research -uestion reached.
Criterion E5 reasoned ar(ument
/tudents should be a!are of the need to give their essays the bac"bone of a developing argument.
Personal vie!s should not simply be stated but need to be supported by reasoned argument based on
specific details# to persuade the reader of their validity. /traightfor!ard descriptive or narrative accounts
that lac" analysis do not usually advance an argument and should be avoided.
Criterion F5 a$$lication of analytical and evaluative s1ills a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
)nalysis is a very important historical s"ill. /tudents should analyse $that is# consider the meaning and
importance of% the relevant factual evidence*data produced by their research# to argue a case and reach a
conclusion. /ources used in the research process should be evaluated and their reliability assessed.
Criterion G5 use of lan(ua(e a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
/tudents !riting extended essays in history need to ta"e three factors into consideration for this
criterion0 the language must be clear and unambiguous# historical terminology should be used# and
statements should be specific and precise# avoiding s!eeping generali.ations and unsupported
assertions. This criterion is not meant to disadvantage students !ho are not !riting in their first language
as long as the meaning is clear1 the historical content !ill be re!arded.
Criterion :5 conclusion
The most important aspect of the conclusion of a history essay is that it must reflect the evidence and
argument presented in the body of the essay. It should also ans!er the research -uestion as"ed# and if the
data and analysis failed to do so# the conclusion must state this as !ell as any other problems
Criterion +5 formal $resentation
This criterion relates to the extent to !hich the essay conforms to academic standards about the !ay in
!hich research papers should be presented. The presentation of essays that omit a bibliography or that
do not give references for -uotations is deemed unacceptable $level ,%. 'ssays that omit one of the
re-uired elementstitle page# table of contents# page numbersare deemed no better than satisfactory
$maximum level 3%# !hile essays that omit t!o of them are deemed poor at best $maximum level 2%.
&areful recording of the relevant details of all evidence significant to the research -uestion is necessary
so that complete references can be provided in the essay# including page numbers. )ny accepted form of
referencing can be used. =ull details of the author# title of publication# publisher and date of publication
must be provided in the bibliography# !hich should list all the sources used in the essay in alphabetical
order $by authors family name%. Tables and charts should appear in the body of the essay# as close as
possible to their first reference. )ny material that is not original must be ac"no!ledged. If an appendix
is included# it should be cross-referenced !ith the essay# other!ise it has little value.
Criterion A5 abstract
The abstract must consist of three elements0 the research -uestion $or hypothesis%# the scope of the essay
$that is# !hat !as investigated and ho! it !as investigated% and the conclusion. )n abstract is not a
pr`cis of the topic.
Criterion 75 holistic 'ud(ment
Oualities that are re!arded under this criterion include the follo!ing.
R Intellectual initiative0 >ays of demonstrating this in history essays include the choice of topic and
research -uestion# locating and using sources that have been little used previously or generated for the
study $for instance# transcripts of oral intervie!s%# and ne! approaches to popular topics $possibly
achieved through evaluation of varying historical explanations%.
R Insight and depth of understanding0 These are most li"ely to be demonstrated as a conse-uence of
detailed research# reflection that is thorough and !ell informed# and reasoned argument that consistently
and effectively addresses the research -uestion.
:istory Examiner )e$ort .ay &%1%
General comments
The follo!ing comments pertain to candidate $erformance and areas 2here su$ervisors could aid
candidates in effectively meeting the re-uirements of the various criteria for the @istory 'xtended
&omments regarding the specific sections $A87% and areas of stren(ths and 2ea1nesses are follo!ed
by more specific comments regarding the !riting of the essay.
Candidate $erformance a(ainst each criterion
A5 research /uestion
The great majority of essays !ere appropriate to the study of :istory in terms of chronology $i.e. should
not focus on events in the last 2, years% and suitability $i.e. dealt !ith issues !hich focused on the
human past and avoided triviality%
There !ere still cases !here candidates needed to clearly articulate the research -uestion and to follo!
the instructions in '' Luide !here it states -uite clearly that the place for a clearly articulated -uestion
is Rin the introduction. >hile putting the research -uestion on the cover sheet is obvious# the
placement of the -uestion in the introduction does not only satisfy the re-uirements of the criterion but
also allo!s for a natural $and hopefully smooth% transition to the demands of criterion , !here the
specified -uestion can be commented upon in terms of indicating context and !orthiness of the
topic*focus of investigation.
,5 introduction
There appeared to be a tendency for candidates to focus on either Qcontext $sometimes !ith too much
bac"ground% or Q!orthiness - but it is important to cover both for full mar"s here.
C5 investi(ation
>hile many of the essays seen did sho! evidence of an appropriate number and range of sources and
!ell structured !or"# there !ere still cases !here school textboo"s and internet sites of dubious value
!ere being used as the basis for the !or". If the candidate has managed successfully to identify relevant
areas of investi(ation at the outset# it is often helpful to then use these areas to produce sub-topic or
chapter divisions in the main body of the essay. This indicates not only evidence of planning but presents
a Qpath for the argument to develop along for the candidate.
95 1no2led(e and understandin( of the to$ic studied
Performance here obviously varied !idely. In the better essays there !as an attempt to move beyond the
general and to provide evidence of examination of a relevant and sophisticated "no!ledge base - and
then in terms of development of argument# to sho! clear understanding of the nature and importance of
the selected "no!ledge.
>here the evidence base !as !ea"# or sources inade-uate in terms of number or -uality# the candidates
necessarily had much difficulty in reaching the upper levels of the mar"s available for criterion D.
E5 reasoned ar(ument
The majority of candidates !ere able to construct a reasoned argument in terms of a logical and coherent
structure but for the argument to be convincing- especially in the case of essays !hich used a QTo !hat
extent_Gapproach Qother factors and contrasting opinions need to be identified and dealt !ith. 'ssays
that relied on descriptive*narrative treatments of the selected topics fared poorly in terms of this
particular criterion.
F5 a$$lication of analytical and evaluative s1ills a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
The analytical and evaluative s"ills that form the basis of a!ards here are amongst the most problematic
areas for students. ?bviously the better essays revealed a high level of attainment in these areas as
candidates made critical commentary# based upon solid historical evidence and !ere able to evaluate
evidence*sources being used in an inte(rated manner 2ithin the essayN
A 2orryin( develo$ment in terms of evaluation is the fact that individual supervisors and entire
centres have instructed candidates that it is appropriate to adopt an Internal )ssessment approach here to
evaluation. This led to candidates !riting discrete sections# labelled Q'valuation and then proceeding to
evaluate $usually% t!o sources for origins# purpose# value and limitations. This is not an Internal
)ssessment investigation and evaluative s"ills should be integrated !ithin the main body and not dealt
!ith in this !ay I or in the form of an annotated biblio(ra$hy. $/ee belo! for more on this latter
G5 use of lan(ua(e a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
?n the !hole there seemed fe! problems in relation to clear communication of the information.
/!eeping generalisations abounded only in the very !ea" essays and candidates for the most part
appeared a!are of the need to support claims being made and to use vocabulary and subject specific
terminology in "eeping !ith the nature of an @istory 'xtended 'ssay.
:5 conclusion
Mirtually all essays !ere provided !ith a conclusion but please remind candidates that the judgements
reached and pronounced upon here must be consistent !ith !hat has gone before. Introducing ne!
material here is not appropriate.
+5 formal $resentation
=ormal presentation on the !hole has sho!n signs of improvement but it is still the case that mar"s are
lost needlessly by candidates !ho are not !ell versed and practised in the use of an appropriate
bibliographical and referencing system. There are + mar"s available for this section and it is -uite rare to
see the a!ard of the four mar"s. This should be an area in !hich all candidates should be able to pic" up
a decent a!ard Iif they are sufficiently prepared and then conscientious in applying !hat they have been
taught in relation to the presentation of references# bibliographies etc..
A5 abstract
The )bstract is done last by candidates and perhaps candidate fatigue may explain the failure of so many
to achieve the full mar"s here. Three areas need to be present and clearly stated $!ithin a 4,, !ord
limit%. The scope is usually the element !hich is most poorly done. &andidates are not re-uired to give a
pr`cis of the essay but have to explain !hat themes or areas of investigation are to be underta"en in
order to allo! them to reach a balanced judgement on the -uestion they have chosen and hopefully
identified at the beginning of the )bstract.
75 holistic 'ud(ment
Please# as supervisors# provide comments on the cover sheet. It can prove useful for examiners in the
allocation of mar"s for this Qholistic judgement criterion.
)ecommendations for the su$ervision of future candidates
The foregoing coverage of sections )-( should indicated areas in !hich supervisors can aid in the
preparation of future candidates. elo! is a summary of main points already alluded to as !ell as some
comments on practices !hich should either be discouraged -or !hich centres should be a!are gain
candidates no advantage.
&andidates need training in presentation s"ills. They need to be ac-uainted and comfortable !ith
the use of an accepted bibliographical and referencing convention.
These s"ills are s"ills that should form part of the general educational programme of students
long before underta"ing and '' and arguably could be introduced at a pre- I level so that
students are familiar !ith re-uirements.
The 'xtended 'ssay in @istory is not the Internal )ssessment component and the treatment of
evaluation as recommended in the I) $in a discrete section% is not !hat is expected in the
'xtended 'ssay !here comments should be integrated into the essay.
/ome centres encourage candidates to provide an annotated biblio(ra$hy. Please be a!are that
since the biblio(ra$hy does not form $art of the 2ord count# any evaluation of sources by
candidates in this section is irrelevant and cannot be considered for $ur$oses of a2ards in
relation to Revaluation;.
In the Abstract avoid a pr`cis and provide the themes*areas for investigation for Qscope.
The research -uestion belongs in the introduction- as indicated in the '' Luide. 'ven if it has
been !ritten on a title page# it should be inte(rated into the introduction !here it allo!s for a
smooth transition to identification of Qcontext and Q!orthiness $as re-uired by criterion %
It stands to reason that essays !hich are 4#,,, !ords or less are unli"ely to achieve satisfactory
levels of attainment in many of the criteria.
GFSS Science Extended Essay
2evised @ctober FF, F>>;
If you have chosen to do an extended essay in the experimental science $Lroup +%# it is li"ely that you
are planning to study science at university. Doing your '' in biology# chemistry# or physics !ill help
you !hen it comes to !riting lab reports for demanding university T)Us# !ho are generally graduate
students !or"ing on a thesis of some "ind.
Pour '' in a Lroup + subject should loo" li"e a very long lab report or submission to a scientific
journal. 4our investi%ation must include analysis of data0
K data collected in an experiment you perform# either at school or at home
K data collected and published by a scientist at a university or else!here# that you e/amine in a different
"ay $i.e. you are not just reporting on someone elseUs results%
K data collected from an online database such as )B=7'D $http0***%#
Pub9ed $http0**!!!*pubmed*% or ?9I9 $http0**!!!*sites*entre.G
) relatively simple experiment could give you a higher end result than a more complex literature-based
essay# !here you !ould be using data collected by persons other than yourself. 'xperiments !ith
commonly "no!n results or that you did in class are unacceptable for an extended essay investigation.
If you choose to do a literature-based essay# you !ill be re-uired to present and discuss data and put it
into a ne! context or interpretation. It is not sufficient to do a summary essay based on !hat you have
read I there must be analysis and interpretation that is yours and yours alone.
>hen choosing your topic# please ensure that it fits specifically !ithin iology# &hemistry or Physics.
9any students start out !ith topics that are in-bet!een subject areas $such as iochemistry or 9edicine%
and are inappropriate for an '' in /cience. &hec" the current '' guide to be sure.
In addition to the data you !ill be analysing# you !ill re-uire relevant bac"ground information# for
!hich you !ill need to consult scientific journals I the information in your textboo" is not al!ays
sufficient for depth of information. 'xamples include0
K Tournal of )pplied Polymer /cience
K Tournal of &ell iology
K )merican Tournal of Physics
Hote I many journals have their abstracts available online# but to access the !hole article# you need to
pay a fee or be a member. Aniversity libraries !ill have many scientific journals available# and you may
copy entire articles to ta"e home !ith you. Please note# an article on a science topic that appears in
Time# 9acleanUs or another maga.ine is usually insufficient in its depth of treatment of the topic I it
is !ritten by a science reporter using information from journals or intervie!s !ith scientists.
Leneral Luidance
>hen !riting# consider your audience. )cademic !riting such as an extended essay re-uires more
formal 'nglish than a letter# email# or creative piece. )void collo-uialisms and contractions and donUt
add !ords just to increase your !ord count. The best extended essays are bet!een 4,,, and 45,,
!ords in length.
It is a good idea to read your essay out loud0 if it sounds li"e the !ay you !ould normally tal" to your
friends# it is probably too informal. There are several good style guides to help you !ith grammar and
sentence structure. $/trun"Us 'lements of /tyle is an excellent reference# available at
http0**!!!*2+2* . %
The follo2in( headin(s should be used to or(ani3e your essay5
1. +ntroduction I this should be the last section of your essay that gets !ritten. It must include the follo!ing sub-
a% 7esearch Ouestion should very early in the introduction. Pour extended essay mentor can help you design a
good research -uestion.
b% @ypothesis and 'xplanation of @ypothesis !hich detail both your prediction about the outcome of your
experiment and an explanation# based on theory $citations are a must here%# !hich supports your hypothesis.
c% Mariables # !hich should be identified as follo!s0
K Dependent I !hat you measured in your experiment$s%
K &ontrolled
K Independent I !hat you manipulated# or controlled over a range of values
K =ixed I !hat you "ept constant
K Ancontrolled I not al!ays discussed# but if there !ere factors beyond your control that
had an effect on your results# list them here
In addition# your introduction must include relevant bac"ground information. (eep in mind that the examiners are
I teachers from your chosen subject area# so it is not necessary to be overly simplistic here.
&. .aterials and .ethods I this should be !ritten in paragraph form. If you feel the need to include the minute
details of your experiment $i.e. if you refer to specific steps in your error analysis# for example% it may be included
as an appendix. This section is !ritten in past tense# since you have already completed your experiment !hen you
are !riting your essay.
. 9ata Collection I includes your observations in !ords# tables and graphs.
a% 7elevant -ualitative observations
b% /ummary data tables $again# ra! data could be included in an appendix if necessary% !hich include some
descriptive statistics such as means and standard deviations.
c% Lraphs are often a good !ay to sho! trends in your data# and are most useful included !ithin the body of your
4. Analysis of 9ata I includes calculations such as rate of reaction# and analytical statistics such as
a T-test or )H?M).
K &hec" out 9erlin# an add-in for 9/-'xcel !hich not only expands the range of graphs you can ma"e# but can
tell you !hat type of statistical test you should do for the type of data you collected# and has built-in functions that
!ill do the statistical test for you. It is available at http0**!!!.hec"grammar."ir"lees.sch.u"*index.phpGpa2,42,.
!. 9iscussion I this is !here you discuss !hether or not your experiment has ans!ered your research -uestion.
'rror analysis# extensions to the investigation and unans!ered -uestions are also included in this section.
Q. Conclusion I in one to t!o paragraphs# conclude your essay !ith !hat !as learned during the
investigation. It should refer bac" directly to the research -uestion# and !hether or not the hypothesis !as correct.
/ources of error may be reiterated here $briefly%.
7. A$$endices I if necessary# this is !here you include the details of your experimental protocol and ra! data.
This is only necessary if you specifically refer to them in your essay $i.e. in the discussion%. (eep in mind that
examiners are not re-uired to loo" at your appendices# so if you really need them to see something $li"e a graph% it
is probably best to include it !ithin the body of your essay.
I. <or1s Cited I this is not a CibliographyD of all the boo"s# journals and !ebsites you consulted !hile !riting
your ''. ?nly list those !or"s you specifically cited in your essay. =ollo! the &/' format. $/ee
http0***sites*guides*csegd.php for details.%
+, EE Guide 88 Treatment of the to$ic G ,iolo(y
Choice of to$ic
It is important that the extended essay has a clear biological emphasis and is not more closely related to
another subject. iology is the science that deals !ith living organisms and life processes. ) biology
extended essay should# therefore# incorporate biological theory and emphasi.e the essential nature of this
)lthough similar assessment criteria apply to all extended essays in the experimental sciences# for a
biology extended essay# the topic chosen must allo! an approach that distinctly relates to biology.
>here a topic can be approached from different vie!points# the treatment of the material must be clearly
biological. =or example# an extended essay in an interdisciplinary area such as biochemistry !ill# if
registered as a biology extended essay# be judged on its biological content# not its chemical content.
'ssays that deal !ith human diseases represent a particular case in point# as these can often be dealt !ith
from a number of perspectives $such as biological# medical# social or economic%. In particular# such
essays should avoid an overly medical treatment and should focus on biological aspects of the disease
rather than on diagnosis and treatment.
/ome topics are unsuitable for investigation because of ethical issues. Investigations that are based on
experiments li"ely to inflict pain on# or cause unnecessary stress to# living organisms are not appropriate
for submission. Investigations that are li"ely to have a harmful effect on health $for example# culturing
micro-organisms at or near body temperature%# or those !hich may involve access to# or publication of#
confidential medical information# are also not appropriate.
/ome topics may be unsuitable for investigation because of safety issues. 'xperiments in !hich the
student uses toxic or dangerous chemicals# carcinogenic substances or radioactive materials should be
avoided unless ade-uate safety apparatus and -ualified supervision are available. ?ther topics may be
unsuitable because the outcome is already !ell "no!n and documented in standard textboo"s.
The follo!ing examples of titles for biology extended essays are intended as guidance only. The pairings
illustrate that focused topics $indicated by the first title% should be encouraged rather than broad topics
$indicated by the second title%.
R CThe effect of detergent toxicity on soil bacteriaD is better than CDetergents in the environmentD.
R C) study of malnourished children in Indonesia and the extent of their recovery after a period of
supervised improved nutritionD is better than C9alnutrition in childrenD.
R C) study of the effect of differing p@ levels on the gro!th of 6haseolus vularisD is better than CThe
effect of acidity on plant gro!thD.
R CThe competitive and evolutionary nature of the symbiotic relationship in 6aramecium bursariaD is
better than C/ymbiosis in animalsD.
R CThe effect of banana peel on seed germinationD is better than C=actors that affect the germination of
R CLel electrophoresis0 The construction of an apparatus and the separation of proteins in heat-treated
co!Us mil"D is better than CAses of the gel electrophoresis techni-ueD.
The topic chosen for study should be presented in the form of a research -uestion# follo!ed by a
statement of intent outlining the research approach to be used in ans!ering the -uestion. In this !ay# the
approach to the topic chosen may be even further clarified. /ome examples of this could be the
To$ic The distribution and (ro2th of lichens on urban $avements
7esearch -uestion
@o! are the distribution and gro!th of lichens affected by sulfur dioxide and levels in the
Thalus diameter and population density data is collected from selected sites in different parts of the city.
This data is then correlated !ith published data on the levels of /?3 and ?4.
To$ic The effectiveness of commercial antibacterial cleanin( a(ents
7esearch -uestion
)re commercially available antibacterial cleaning agents effective at controlling the gro!th of 8. coli on
nutrient agar under laboratory conditionsG
Pure strain 8. coli are gro!n on nutrient agar plates under controlled conditions. =ilter paper discs
soa"ed in samples of the antibacterial agents are placed on the agar plates and the .one of exclusion is
measured and compared.
To$ic Altitude and $hysical fitness
7esearch -uestion
&an a programme of training at high altitude have an impact on the fitness of an athleteG
Asing a digital heart-rate monitor# pre- and post-exercise heart rates and recovery times are measured for
four athletes. These athletes then carry out a programme of training at 3#5,, metres above sea level# after
!hich heart-rate and recovery time data is once again collected. The pre- and post-training data is
analysed and compared to published data.
To$ic Erease from soy beans
7esearch -uestion
>hich method of extraction and !hich temperature conditions give the best levels of urease activityG
The en.yme is extracted from dried soy beans using three different methods# and the activity of the
extract is measured and compared to a standard. Arease activity is measured by noting the time ta"en for
a standard urea solution# !ith phenolphthaline indicator# to turn pin" in the presence of the en.yme
Treatment of the to$ic
/tudents should point out early in the essay ho! the research -uestion !as arrived at and# if appropriate#
ho! it !as narro!ed do!n# by briefly outlining related aspects that are not being considered in the
essay. /tudents should be encouraged to formulate one or more hypotheses based on the research
-uestion. ) single !ell-formulated -uestion may give rise to a small number of precise hypotheses.
'ssays in biology may be based on data collected by the student through experimentation# survey#
microscopic observations# biological dra!ing# field!or" or some other appropriate biological approach.
)lternatively# essays may be based on data or information obtained from literature# ideally from primary
sources# and manipulated or analysed in an original !ay by the student. 'ssays that simply restate facts
or data ta"en directly from the sources are of little value. >hichever approach is chosen# the student
must ensure that sufficient resources# in the form of data and information# can be obtained in order to
allo! the topic to be effectively researched.
'ssays that involve practical !or" carried out in the laboratory# or field!or"# should include a clear and
concise description of the experimental procedure. /tudents should attempt to specify ho! the research
approach and methodology !ere decided# and sho! any approaches that !ere considered and rejected.
Ideally# students should carry out the research for the essay solely under the direction of a school
supervisor. /ome of the best essays have been !ritten by students investigating relatively simple
phenomena using standard school apparatus# and this approach is to be encouraged. 7egardless of
!here# or under !hat circumstances# the research is carried out# students must provide evidence in the
essay of their personal contribution to the research approach and to the selection of the methods used.
'ssays based on research carried out by the student at a research institute or university# under the
guidance of an external supervisor# must be accompanied by a covering letter outlining the nature of the
supervision and the level of guidance provided.
Lenerating and presenting data should not be an end in itself1 analysis using appropriate scientific
techni-ues is essential. The main body of the essay should consist of an argument or evaluation based on
the data or information presented. @ere# the student should point out the significance of any graphs#
tables or diagrams. /ince this is often the longest single section of the essay# it is essential that it is !ell
structured and has an obvious logical progression. ) clear structure can be imposed on this section by
dividing it into numbered and headed paragraphs. This evaluation should sho! an understanding of the
results and an appreciation of their significance in light of the literature that has been consulted.
/tudents should provide some explanation of anomalies or unexpected outcomes but this should not
form a major part of the discussion. If necessary# modifications to hypotheses presented earlier in the
essay should be proposed and a research approach for testing these should be suggested. /ome
assessment of the outcomes of the research in a future or !ider context should be made.
/tudents must be encouraged to underta"e a critical evaluation of the !or" they have done. In this
analysis# the student should describe and explain the limitations imposed on the research by factors such
as the suitability and reliability of the sources accessed# accuracy and precision of measuring e-uipment#
sample si.e# validity and reliability of statistics. iological limitations should be considered# such as
those arising from the problem of repeatability and control !hen using living material# as !ell as the
difficulties of from research based on a single type of organism or environment.
+nter$retin( the assessment criteria
Criterion A5 research /uestion
In a biology extended essay# the research -uestion is best stated in the form of a -uestion. The research
-uestion should not be understood as a statement of the topic but rather as a precisely formulated
-uestion that the research !ill attempt to ans!er. =or example# a statement of the topic of an essay might
be C=actors that affect bacterial gro!th in agar plate culturesD1 the research -uestion based on this topic
could be C@o! are the gro!th rates of three strains of 8. coli affected by temperatureGD The research
-uestion can then be used to formulate a hypothesis# or hypotheses# !hich can be tested. The research
-uestion should be identified clearly and set out prominently in the introduction. ) broad statement of
the topic of the essay or a statement of the hypothesis is not sufficient on its o!n to meet the
re-uirement for a research -uestion in a biology extended essay.
Criterion ,5 introduction
The purpose of the introduction is to set the research -uestion into context. It is usually appropriate to
include the general bac"ground biological theory re-uired to understand ho! the research -uestion has
arisen. /tudents are not expected to explain basic biology forming part of the Diploma Programme
biology course# but they are expected to be able to sho! that they fully understand it and can apply it
correctly. /ome research -uestions may re-uire bac"ground from other disciplines. This should be "ept
to a minimum# as the essay !ill be judged on its biological content.
Criterion C5 investi(ation
The !ay in !hich the investigation is !ritten !ill depend very much on !hether or not the essay is
based on experimental !or" performed by the student. =or essays that are based on data ta"en from
!ritten sources# the student should explain clearly ho! the data has been selected and should comment
on its reliability. =or experimental !or"# sufficient information on the methodology should be provided
to allo! the !or" to be repeated. /tudents should demonstrate that they understand the theory behind
any techni-ues or apparatus used. They are also expected to sho! an a!areness of any limitations or
uncertainties inherent in their techni-ues and apparatus.
Criterion 95 1no2led(e and understandin( of the to$ic studied
) biology extended essay should be based on specific# relevant and clearly defined aspects of the
biological study of living organisms. The information and ideas should be presented in a !ay that
provides evidence that these have been understood and applied correctly. 9aterial extracted from the
sources should be referenced and incorporated into the main body of the essay in a !ay that
demonstrates the students understanding.
Criterion E5 reasoned ar(ument
ecause of the nature of the subject# students !riting a biology extended essay must ma"e a special
effort to maintain a reasoned# logical argument that focuses on the research -uestion. 'ssays that attempt
to deal !ith a large number of variables are unli"ely to be focused and coherent. ) clear and logical
argument can be achieved by ma"ing repeated reference to the research -uestion and to the hypotheses
derived from it. )n assessment of the extent to !hich the hypotheses are supported# or the -uestion is
ans!ered# by the data or information accessed should form part of the argument.
Criterion F5 a$$lication of analytical and evaluative s1ills a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
The stated conclusion$s% must be based on the data# information and*or evidence presented in the essay.
The data must be analysed and presented in such a !ay that the argument leading to the conclusion is
supported and clarified. Tables of ra! data !ill generally not achieve this on their o!n. 7a! data must
be analysed# processed and presented in a !ay that relates clearly and directly to the central argument of
the essay. >here appropriate# this analysis should allo! for an assessment of the validity of the
hypothesis. 'rrors and uncertainties arising from the methodology# instruments and*or techni-ues should
be analysed and critically evaluated.
Criterion G5 use of lan(ua(e a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
/tudents !riting in biology need to sho! a mastery of# and fluency in# the use of appropriate
terminology. )t the same time# students need to avoid excessive use of jargon. )ny technical terms that
are used should be explained and the student must demonstrate an understanding of these terms by using
them appropriately !ithin the text. The student must try to maintain a consistent linguistic style
throughout the essay.
Criterion :5 conclusion
The conclusion should relate directly to the research -uestion and should point out the main findings of
the research. iological research often reveals unexpected outcomes and these should be pointed out#
even if they !ere not part of the original plan. The original research -uestion may not be fully ans!ered
by the investigation. In these cases# the student should point out unresolved issues and ma"e suggestions
as to ho! these might be further investigated.
Criterion +5 formal $resentation
iological investigations often re-uire the support of referenced material# not only in the form of text or
data# but also as diagrams or dra!ings. &are must be ta"en to supply references for illustrations ta"en
from sources. /tudents must avoid the temptation to supply illustrations for their o!n sa"e. Illustrative
material should only be included if it enhances the argument or supplies information that cannot be
easily provided in another !ay. ?riginal photographs# photocopies or do!nloaded images that are not
labelled or put into the context of the investigation are unli"ely to enhance the essay.
iological investigations often result in large -uantities of ra! data. Barge tables of ra! data are best
included in an appendix. Processed data that is central to the argument of the essay should be included in
the body of the essay# as close as possible to its first reference.
Criterion A5 abstract
=or a biological investigation# the abstract must include the research -uestion and a conclusion that
directly relates to the research -uestion. In addition# the description of ho! the research !as conducted
must include a description of the methodology and the scope of the study.
Criterion 75 holistic 'ud(ment
Oualities that are re!arded under this criterion include the follo!ing.
R Intellectual initiative0 >ays of demonstrating this in biology essays include the choice of topic and
research -uestion# and the use of novel or innovative approaches to address the research -uestion.
R Insight and depth of understanding0 These are most li"ely to be demonstrated as a conse-uence of
detailed research and thorough reflection# and by !ell-informed and reasoned argument that consistently
and effectively addresses the research -uestion.
R ?riginality and creativity0 These !ill be apparent by clear evidence of a personal approach bac"ed up
by solid research and reasoning.
,iolo(y Examiner )e$ort .ay &%%#
General comments
This is the first report on the performance of candidates using the current 8/tended 8ssay Guide $first
examinations 3,,;%. 'xtended essays in all subjects are assessed against the same eleven criteria !hich
are interpreted on the basis of subject guidelines $the subject specific guidelines for biology can be
found in the current 8/tended essay uide on pages +6 to 52%. 9ar"ing in the 9ay 3,,; session !as
preceded by a series of online training sessions for examiners aimed at ensuring consistency in mar"ing
and in the interpretation of the guide.
It is re!arding and encouraging to see that the extended essay in biology continues to be a popular
choice $despite the challenges it poses for candidates as !ell as for the supervisors%. It is also re!arding
to see that# in most cases# candidates are being encouraged to adopt a practical approach to their
research# using a combination experimentation and*or field !or". The !or" submitted for this session
revealed a high level of enthusiasm for biology as !ell as ample evidence of independence and insight
on the part of the candidates. The ne! guide is more explicit in terms of the roles of the school and the
supervisor and it is clear that the majority of schools and supervisors are meeting these demands and that
schools are providing an appropriately structured and safe environment for candidates to conduct their
The remainder of this report !ill deal primarily !ith those areas !here candidates are in need of
guidance and supervision and !here the attention of both candidates and supervisors needs to be more
clearly focused on the ne! criteria. There can be no doubt that the -uality# and to a lesser extent the
-uantity# of supervision received by a candidate can play a significant role in the success of an extended
essay. &onse-uently there is a strong need for supervisors to familiari.e themselves !ith the current
guide and to assist the candidates in interpreting the re-uirements.
The ran(e and suitability of the 2or1 submitted
'xaminers reported a !ide range of appropriate topics and research styles in this session.
/uccessful topics included essays on plant gro!th and physiology $rates of transpiration and
photosynthesis%# microbiology $in particular antibacterial action of commercial and natural products%#
factors affecting germination and gro!th of seedlings# experiments !ith genetically modified plants#
biochemical investigations $especially activity of en.ymes and molecular genetics% # behavioural studies
in invertebrates and fish# a variety of human biology topics $including behaviour# exercise physiology#
perception of stimuli# and nutrition% and ecological studies based on particular local phenomena or
environmental issues.
Bess successful topics tend to come from areas such as health $focusing on the symptoms and treatment
of particular diseases or the effects of specific drugs%# soil properties# comparisons of !estern and
eastern medicine# ethical issues in genetics and the teaching of evolution# the behaviour of the family
pet$s% and surveys of student $or community% attitudes to biological issues. )s in previous sessions# the
most successful essays had a small number of a clearly defined and easily manipulated independent
variables and a -uantifiable and easily measured dependent variable. /uccessful essays often relied on
the use of basic e-uipment of the type that can be normally found in a school# and !ere carried out in the
school laboratory or in the local environment.
It is very important that essays entered under biology contain a significant biological component. >hile
the assessment of the extended essay no longer uses subject specific criteria $criteria are common to all
subjects%# candidates and their supervisors need to be a!are that the subject specific guidance is
considered in conjunction !ith the assessment criteria. This means that the topic and research approach
must be firmly biological. This is particularly significant for those criteria that carry specific reference to
the CsubjectD in !hich the essay is registered. These include criterion &# $methods employed to collect
the data as !ell as the sources accessed%# criterion D $the levels of "no!ledge and understanding
demonstrated%# criterion = $the analytical and evaluative s"ills that are applied to the data*information%
and criterion L $the language used%. )n essay !ith a strong biological element !ill have the potential to
perform !ell against these criteria !hile one that is only marginally biological may not reach the top
The top level of criterion & refers to VappropriateV sources and data as !ell as VrelevantV material.
'xaminers interpret this to mean relevant and appropriate !ithin the biological context. In addition# a
V!ell planned investigationV !ill use a biological methodology. =or criterion D# the top
level re-uires that the essay locates the investigation clearly and precisely in an VacademicV context# in
other !ords it must have a clear VbiologicalV context. In addition the "no!ledge and understanding
demonstrated should be biological. )s far as criterion = is concerned# Vappropriate analytical and
evaluative s"illsD are those that are typically biological# such as the use of deductive reasoning# graphical
analysis and statistical approaches.
&riterion L has presented a ne! challenge to candidates# supervisors and examiners ali"e. 9ore is said
about this under /ection belo!. In principle examiners read Vterminology appropriate to the subjectV
to mean biological terminology.
'ssays based on practical !or" carried out at a university or other research institution# have become less
common. @o!ever some schools continue to use this approach although it is not al!ays clear that this is
happening !ithin the spirit of the extended essay re-uirement. The ne! guide ma"es it very clear $p +:%
that essays of this type must be accompanied by a covering letter from a -ualified person at the external
institution. 'xaminers report that in the vast majority of cases# this re-uirement !as not met. The
experience of this session has sho!n that in some cases such essays have not been able to reach the top
levels for certain criteria. This applies for example to criterion & !here the assessment statement Cthe
investigation has been !ell plannedV is interpreted to mean !ell planned by the candidate. ?ften these
essays have highly technical introductions and extensive protocols about one or other complex
procedures. It is often evident that the terminology and description of the method is beyond the studentUs
understanding but it is nonetheless described and is a major part of the ''. This is inappropriate. >hen
!or" of this type is submitted# clear evidence must be provided $in the form of a covering letter%# that the
candidate has had a sufficient level of input into decisions about the research approach and selection of
methodology and sources. The candidate should justify these decisions !ithin the text of the essay. The
person$s% responsible at the outside institution should be appraised of the assessment criteria and be
as"ed to ensure that the candidate !ill have ample opportunity to plan and !or" independently. )bove
all the supervisor at the school must ta"e full responsibility for steering the candidate through the essay-
!riting process and for authenticating the essay.
'ssays !hich are essentially CreportsD $of the type Vfind out everything you can about a topic and !rite
it do!n% rather than investigations $in the sense of a research paper that is aimed at ans!ering a research
-uestion%# continue to be submitted. >hile examiners search for -ualities in these essays that sho! some
merit# and try to re!ard these# it is often difficult for !or" of this type to perform !ell against the
assessment criteria $particularly D# ' and =%.
Candidate $erformance a(ainst each criterion
A5 research /uestion
=e! candidates experienced difficulty in expressing their research -uestion. 9any essays report the
research -uestion in the title or as a separate item before the introduction. The research -uestion must
also appear in the abstract and in the introduction and may be repeated in the later part of the essay or in
the conclusion. >hile it is not essential that these all be identically !orded# candidates should ensure
that there is consistency bet!een the different statements of the research -uestion. >hen ne! aspects are
introduced or elaborated this should be explained and justified.
,5 introduction
The re-uirement for an introduction# in !hich the context of the research is clearly outlined# is a ne!
aspect of assessment and# as such# !as not al!ays ade-uately addressed in this session. It !ould be
helpful to both the candidate and the examiner if the introduction !ere clearly identified as a subsection
of the essay !ith a chapter heading. There are three aspects to this criterion0 the context# the significance
and the !orthiness of investigation. In order to reach the top level# all three aspects must be ade-uately
dealt !ith. Demonstrating the context and significance of the essay re-uires the candidate to refer to the
sources that have been accessed and this section needs to be carefully referenced. In many cases
candidates tended to deal only !ith C!orthiness of investigationD and in doing so tended to refer to
personal motivation rather than !hat the results of the study might reveal about the -uestion being
C5 investi(ation
This criterion covers both data collected from printed sources as !ell as data collected by the candidate
$through experimentation or field !or"%. The !ay in !hich this criterion is applied !ill depend on the
style of the essay to some extent $literature based# practically based or a combination of both%.
'xaminers ma"e a judgement about the range and appropriateness of data gathered by the candidate as
!ell as the methods used to gather the data. In addition there must be clear evidence that the
investigation has been planned by the candidate. &andidates can achieve this by explaining ho!
information obtained from the sources helped to guide their decisions about !hich approach to follo!.
In any case candidates need to justify the approach and not simply report a method. )chieving level +
$an imaginative range% proved to be difficult for candidates using standard techni-ues.
95 1no2led(e and understandin( of the to$ic studied
In order to reach the top level for this criterion# candidates are expected to sho! that they understand the
topic they are investigating. The can do this for example by providing explanations and justifications for
their decisions about the research direction $!hy !as something included# !hy !as something else
omitted%. 'ssays that consist mainly of tracts of text ta"en directly from the sources !ill fail to convince
the examiners that there is in fact an appropriate level of understanding. This also applies to highly
technical texts that provide no explanation for terminology. &andidates also need to sho! that they
understand ho! their o!n investigation fits into the existing academic frame!or". They can do this by
referring to texts they have read and sho!ing ho! they have used the information from these sources to
guide their o!n research.
E5 reasoned ar(ument
9any candidates struggle to sustain a line of argument throughout the essay. In order to achieve a more
fluent and coherent argument# candidates need to be explicit about their reasoning. In many cases
candidates tend to leave it up to the reader to see the significance of the information they are providing
or to ma"e the connections bet!een the research -uestion and the conclusions reached. (ey elements of
the argument include ans!ers to the follo!ing -uestions0 C>hat am I trying to find outGD1 C@o! am I
going about finding outGD1 C>hat did I find outGD and C>hat does this ne! information tell meGD These
need to be lin"ed clearly throughout the text of the essay. ) clear line of argument can be pic"ed up
!hen there is regular reference to the research -uestion throughout the essay and !here findings and
discussion points are presented in the context of the overall aims of the research.
F5 a$$lication of analytical and evaluative s1ills a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
The most appropriate approach to analysis depends on the type of data*information collected and
presented by the candidate. The challenge for the candidate is to carry out the analysis in such a !ay as
to address the research -uestion. >hile candidates should be encouraged to use statistical analysis !here
appropriate they must also be selective about the techni-ues used and should be encouraged to explain
and justify their approach. /upervisors should note that there is no re-uirement to include statistical
analysis and that the top level can be reached $depending on the type of data*information presented%
!ithout the use of statistical tests. It is often helpful# if there is a large body of ra! data# for this to be
included in an appendix and for summary charts and tables to be in the main body of the essay.
'ssays that are essentially CreportsD rather than CinvestigationsD# often fail to address this criterion !ell.
The exceptions include cases !here the candidate analyses published data or attempts to re-evaluate
information from a range of sources.
G5 use of lan(ua(e a$$ro$riate to the sub'ect
>hile this is a ne! aspect of assessment of the extended essay it is one that is central to producing a
coherent and intelligible piece of !riting. There are in fact t!o aspects to this criterion0 the use of clear
and precise language on the one hand and the use of terminology appropriate to the topic on the other.
&andidates need to adopt and sustain a clear and precise style and sho! an understanding of and fluency
!ith the main technical terms associated !ith the topic. Hote that there is no re-uirement to !rite in the
passive voice. >riting in the first person singular# active voice may be clearer and may in fact be easier
to sustain $especially for non-native spea"ers of the target language%. In order to reach the higher levels
for this criterion the candidate must sho! an understanding of# and an ability to accurately use# the "ey
terms in the research -uestion as !ell as many if not most of the associated terms.
'ssentially# examiners are loo"ing at the level of sophistication of the language used especially in terms
of scientific# and in particular biological# language. The !ea"est essays display a complete lac" of
sophistication !ith no fluency in the language of the topic. Problems arise !ith very technical
investigations !here an essay consists largely of descriptions of detailed experimental protocols !ith
little or no attempt to explain the technical language. /uch essays often suffer from the fact that the
candidate is unable to sustain a consistent linguistic style throughout.
:5 conclusion
9any candidates struggle to !rite an effective conclusion and*or highlight unresolved -uestions.
&andidates should try to express the conclusions carefully and not overstate their findings. >here
possible the conclusions should be verified by reference to the literature.
+5 formal $resentation
/ome !ea"nesses in presentation s"ills that !ere noted in previous sessions are still apparent and these
!ill probably need to be highlighted in every session. )s such it !ill be helpful if candidates receive
regular guidance on these points0
)ll of the sources accessed must be included in the bibliography. =or the majority of the items in the
bibliography there should be some in-text reference. The candidate should ma"e clear ho! other more
general sources !ere used. &are needs to be ta"en to provide appropriate and complete bibliographic
entries for online sources I simply providing the A7B is not sufficient. There are a number of
publications available on ho! to do this.
/ome essays have no obvious structure. This is often reflected in a less than helpful table of contents
along the lines of0 CintroductionD# CbodyD# CconclusionD. @eadings used in the table of contents should
appear in the text of the essay and candidates should carefully chec" the page numbers for chapters.
&andidates tend to use the heading CconclusionD for the section in !hich they interpret and discuss their
data. ?ften only the final paragraph of this section is the conclusion proper.
&andidates need to be selective about the use of supporting illustrative material. Diagrams copied
directly from the sources need to be accompanied by a commentary or an explanation that highlights
their significance. Digital images should only be included if they enhance the -uality of the !or".
&andidates need to be selective about !hether to include in an appendix as the essay should ma"e sense
!ithout any reference to the appendix. Important information such as the results of statistical analysis
should be in the body of the essay. The details of calculations associated !ith this can be in an appendix
$if it is a lot of material%. Barge tables of ra! data can also be presented in an appendix but should be
referred to in the text of the essay. If the candidate reports the results of statistical analysis in an
appendix but ma"es no reference to these in the text then the statistics !ill not be ta"en into
consideration !hen assessing the essay $since the appendix is not part of the essay%.
A5 abstract
>riting the abstract is a technical part of the essay that even good candidates find difficult to do. In
some cases there are !hat might be called Ccareless omissionsD $no research -uestion# no conclusion%. In
other cases that candidate fails to deal ade-uately !ith the scope of the essay0 in other !ords does not
explain ho! the research !as conducted $!hat methods !ere used# !hat type and -uantity of data !ere
collected# ho! test and control groups !ere selected or established%.
75 holistic 'ud(ment
/upervisors should be a!are that the comments they !rite on the extended essay cover sheet $on the
circumstances surrounding the research and level of personal involvement of the candidate% can be of
considerable assistance to the examiners in assessing criterion (.
Hote that an essay does not have to sho! evidence of all of the -ualities mentioned in the descriptor
and*or guidance notes in order to reach the highest level. The -ualities referred to in the stem of criterion
( are examples of the type of -uality that can be re!arded.
)ecommendations for the su$ervision of future candidates
)lthough section above focuses on problems and !ea"nesses# it is obvious from the -uality of the
!or" submitted in the session as a !hole that the majority of candidates enjoyed and benefitted from the
experience. It is also obvious that the majority of supervisors had !or"ed hard in guiding and
encouraging their students. iology is one of the most popular subject choices for the extended essay
and supervisors in many schools may be stretched to meet the needs of their students. @o!ever effective
supervision is a crucial part of the learning process involved in !riting the extended essay and the role
of the supervisor is detailed in the current guide. >ithout effective ongoing supervision the process
becomes a chore for the candidate and a fruitless exercise in the end.
Poor essays are produced !hen there has not been early intervention by a supervisor. &andidates can be
encouraged to engage more fully !ith the !riting process and to communicate more !ith the supervisor
by agreeing on a detailed timetable !ith internal deadlines for various stages of the research process.
This !ill also help to avoid time being !asted on unsuitable or overambitious investigations.
It is disappointing to see that a significant number of supervisors still made no comment on the cover
sheet# and in some cases candidates had clearly not been ade-uately guided on ho! to address the
criteria. ?ther points from previous reports remain valid. &andidates continue to be in need of guidance
on the follo!ing0
establishing# refining and using the research -uestion
providing a clear academic context for the research
sustaining an effective argument
displaying a command of the language of the topic
bibliographic entries and in-text references
structuring the essay $headings and sub headings%
incorporating and integrating diagrams and illustrations
selecting material for inclusion in an appendix.
!riting an abstract
=inally it must be emphasised that candidates submitting !or" !hich has been conducted in
collaboration !ith a research team at a university or research institute must ensure that they have a
sufficient level of input into the research approach and selection of methodology and sources. )bove all
it is essential that each candidate has a supervisor at the school !ho !ill ta"e ultimate responsibility for
the supervision process.
EEE please see the school !ebsite for more examiners reports