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Research Process

Choose a Topic

For Extended Essay: 


Make sure you have reviewed the assessment criteria the essay will be graded on.


Also review the subject specific guidelines, as they will give you more guidance on how the general assessment criteria are applied to your chosen subject.


The next step in the research process is to define what your research is going to focus on - the topic. At this stage you need to explore: 


  • what are my possible topics? 
  • what do I know about those topics? 
  • which words would be good search terms and keywords? 


Undertake some general reading around the issue. Questions you must consider at this stage are: 


  • What has already been written about this topic? 
  • Was it easy to find sources of information? 
  • Is there a range of different sources available? 
  • Is there a range of views or perspectives on the topic? 
  • What interesting questions have started to emerge from this reading? 

For Other Assignments/Assessments: 


Understand your assignment parameters, requirements, and due dates. 


Choose something you are interested in. 


Start from the assignment due date and work your way back. Think about the time you will need for research, writing, editing, and allow time for questions that may arise. 


Keep in mind your topic may change as you research and write. 


Pick a few topics you want to explore further and then find background information and refine your topic to see if you want to continue down that path. If not, try out a different topic until you find one you like. 

Consider the following: 


Topic is within guidelines and requirements of the assignment. 


Topic is not too broad or too narrow (depends on the length of the paper). 


​​​​​​​Topic is relevant to reader, current time and situation (debatable, important, controversial).


Topic is interesting to you (picking an interesting topic will make the research process more fun, result in an engaging piece, others will want to read). 


Topic is something you vaguely know about (writing about something you are not familiar with can lead to a unique perspective to the topic and lead to discovery of new information which is the point of research). 


Topic is not common (a simple common topic can lead to plagiarism, the topic should involve critical thinking on the writer’s part).