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CIS Secondary Library: Extended Essay

CIS Secondary Library: Making the Virtual Visible

The Extended Essay, a compulsory component of the IBDP curriculum, is designed to give you an opportunity to engage in the methods of critical research. It is defined as “an in-depth study of a focused topic” intended to give you experience of the kind of individual, independent, and sustained research work that is encountered in college and university education. 

Getting started, it is wise to consult the Five Steps to Writing a Research Question and to consider the advice provided with the Sample Research Questions

For each subject, there are very particular standards you must follow. Get to know these resources (below) as you consider your subject options. After you have chosen a subject, use this very practical advice throughout the rest of the process.

As you work, you should frequently seek the wisdom of your supervisor, communicate with the Extended Essay coordinator, and--as always--ask questions. Because you are producing a significant body of research, you are expected to follow MLA Research Paper standards. At our Citing & Referencing LibGuide, you will find many additional tips and insights.

Class of 2019 Exemplars 

These exemplars are from the May 2018 examination session. This is the most up-to-date collection that has been made available by the IB. As more are released, they will be added to this folder.

Key Databases

The entire range of our databases are available to use. This particular list centers on what you will typically need for your essays, but feel free to use the others. 

Destiny Catalogue

Conduct a basic search of materials in this window. For more extensive searches, you can log in to your Destiny account by using your Moongate password. 



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Essential Links

Getting Started

Video Tutorials Playlist

MLA/APA: Samples & Guides

MLA Samples & Guides

APA Samples & Guides



"As creators/authors, we are expected to acknowledge any materials or ideas that are not ours and that have been used in any way, such as quotation, paraphrase, or summary. The term 'materials' means written, oral or electronic products, and may include the following: 

  • Text, Visual, Audio, Graphic, Artistic, Lectures, Interviews, Conversations, Letters, Broadcasts, Maps.

Basic and common knowledge within a field or subject does not need to be acknowledged. However, if we are in doubt whether the source material is common knowledge or not, we should cite!"

from Effective Citing and Referencing, by the IB Programme of International Education, 2014


When Sources Must Be Cited (Checklist)*

Information that always must be cited—whether web-based or print-based—includes:

  • Quotations, opinions, and predictions, whether directly quoted or paraphrased.
  • Statistics derived by the original author.
  • Visuals in the original.
  • Another author’s theories.
  • Case studies.
  • Another author’s direct experimental methods or results.
  • Another author’s specialized research procedures or findings.

If you use specific information of the type just mentioned, document it; otherwise you could be plagiarizing. Better safe than lazy. By citing the source of your information you point to an authority rather than ask your reader to trust your memory or what might appear to be your own idea. Even though you can recall a statistic or a description of a process, for example, citation of such information—if it came directly from a source—gives more credibility to your writing and underscores the accuracy, timeliness, and even the potential bias of your information. In short, be honest, smart, and safe.

*from Penn State University College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

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What is a Primary Source?

According to the Princeton University Library, a primary source is a "document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study." They go on to provide clarity to the primary source question:

  • ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS(excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records 
  • CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art 
  • RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII 
  • The Constitution of Canada - Canadian History 
  • A journal article reporting NEW research or findings 
  • Weavings and pottery - Native American history 
  • Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece

Find out how a primary source differs from a secondary source by visiting their web page.

The [Rare] Use of Footnotes

MLA format requires in-text parenthetical references.

There are only two reasons to use footnotes or end notes: 

  1. As "Content Notes" which "offer the reader comment, explanation, or information that the text can’t accommodate. In general, they should be used only when you need to justify or clarify what you have written or when further amplification of your point is especially helpful." 
  2.  As "Bibliographic Notes" which used only when you need to cite several sources or make evaluative comments on your sources."

To be perfectly clear, footnotes and end notes do count against your total word count.

There is plenty of available support, so please take advantage:

Work Cited

"Are Notes Compatible with MLA Style?" Ask the MLA. Modern Language Association, 2016. Web. 14 June 2016. <>.