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IB Extended Essay

How to Write an Extended Essay Proposal – Part 2

This week we're continuing our "How to Write an Extended Essay Proposal" series. Check out the first part of this series here for a rundown of the different sections that your proposal should include. Here we’ll take a look at a few common problems people encounter when writing their proposal. 

Problem 1: “I don’t have a research question!”

Creating your research question can be one of the hardest parts of writing your EE. For your proposal, focus on identifying the issues that you want to investigate. The most important thing to remember is that you can change the phrasing of your question later on. You might find that you choose to reword this later on, when you have all your data and sources in place. 

For your proposal, focus on identifying the areas and the key relationships that you want to explore. This will ensure that you are able to get started with your research. 

Research questions generally follow a general structure of “How does X affect Y?”. It’s important to identify specific variables here. Four thousand words might seem like a lot at the moment but it’ll get used up quickly! If your question is too vague, you’ll find it hard to reach an answer within the word limit. For a more in-depth look into writing a research question, check out this article from Monash University. 

Problem 2: “I don’t know what I’m doing”

Students often find that they’re not sure what the actual process of writing the EE looks like. This is why you write a proposal! It gives you the space to figure out what’s going on and get feedback on your plans before you get started. Try to look at it as a tool for you, rather than another assignment.

Remember that this research process is very similar to that of IAs, essays, and lab reports that you’ve already written. It’s just a bit more in depth for each stage. You’ll start with preliminary research where you figure out what topics you’re interested in and which one is viable as an EE. Then you get to move into the actual research after which you’ll begin your data analysis. 

These stages are likely to overlap a little bit. If you’re doing a science EE, it’s likely that you’ll do some data analysis when you start experiments so that you can check everything is working. This is okay! For the proposal you don’t need to worry about this. You can use a more general overview of the process.

Problem 3: “I don’t how to create a timeline”

The timeline isn’t there to create strict deadlines for you, but rather to help make sure you’re making progress. It can be really tricky to know how long each stage of the process will take. Your teachers will understand this! 

Working backwards from when your deadline for turning in your EE is can be a great way to get started. This will make sure that you’re not getting behind and that you’re being realistic about how much time you have. 

It’s generally a good idea to allocate more time to your research and data analysis stages than the others. You’re likely to encounter more problems in these stages than in others. This is completely normal and will likely take some problem solving to move beyond. 

If you are looking for more information about how to write an Extended Essay proposal or the Extended Essay process more generally, check out all our EE-related articles here. If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for there, check out our tuition services here.

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