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Extended Essay Guides - Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Topic

Before you can formulate a research question, you must explore topic ideas within your IB subject area.

  • Once you have selected an IB subject, read the assessment criteria in the Extended Essay Guide in your subject area.
  • Do some preliminary research and background reading and begin to identify some research topics within your subject area
  • Continue your preliminary investigation until you are ready to discuss possible topics with your supervisor.  With your supervisor's help, decide on one topic.  Research that topic until you can select one issue or problem as the focus of your essay.
  • Once you have a topic, you can begin to develop a precise and challenging research question.  Be sure it is not too narrow or too broad for the 4000 word limit of the extended essay
Looking for Inspiration?

Web Resources

Arts & Letters Daily

News about the arts and humanities from the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Insight, commentary, and analysis of ideas, research, and current events, tapping into the rich scholarship on JSTOR, a digital library of more than 2,000 academic journals, dating back to the first volume ever published, along with thousands of monographs, and other material. In addition to weekly feature articles, the magazine publishes daily blog posts that provide the backstory to complex issues of the day in a variety of subject areas, interviews with and profiles of scholars and their work, and much more.

Science Daily

The latest research news in science and health.

The PBS Idea Channel

Crash Course Videos

By John Green and his brother, Hank.

Ted Talks

Article Databases

Use library article databases (JSTOR, Galenet and SIRS Researcher) to explore your topic ideas.