Starting your research

Many students struggle to write the perfect introduction and methodology, and get stuck for weeks in the process. Your introduction and first draft do not have to be perfect but should form the base of your essay moving forward. It is often good to form a plan from your research that contains the key elements of each paragraph. Once you are confident with this and have filled it in with more research, you can improve on this to make it a perfect draft.

Once you have finalised your RQ, you should plan your research workflow, methodology, and define the scope of your research. We recommend breaking the first draft into several paragraphs, and setting mini-goals to achieve. This will help you to move along faster and make the seemingly daunting task of a 4,000-word essay a lot simpler. For instance, a 300 word introduction, 500 word methodology, would be a good start. Your first draft does not have to be too detailed to begin with. This draft should outline the main variables you will explore and your line of argument. Your research direction may change as your essay develops, so do not worry if it is not perfect when you begin. This is the reason why the first EE reflection requires you to discuss the constraints of your research question and how you adapted your research!

Writing your first draft

Some useful sources of information for your first draft are Google Scholar and JSTOR. Academic sources like these give you access to a wide range of useful material. When reading books or journal articles, you do not have to read them cover to cover! In fact, you should only read the sections that are relevant to your topic, and reading the introduction and conclusion will often tell you whether a journal article is relevant.

Keep your research question in mind when you read external articles, as this will help you to focus your reading on key sections of texts. Alternatively, you could make notes in a separate word document; such as Google Docs; or with pen and paper. It is useful to keep everything you do in the same format, however, so you can easily collate it.


Make sure you save your extended essay frequently and to an accessible platform such Dropbox or Google Drive so that if your computer were to crash your progress will be stored!

Reviewing your first draft

When you meet your supervisor- be sure to look over your first draft to see which parts are excellent, which can be explored further and which need to be rethought. This can be split over a number of meetings; for example, one for rationale and methodology, then one for the main thesis, the next for antithesis, and finally the conclusion. This will give you clear direction on specific subsections to work on.

Whilst editing your first draft, do not be afraid to delete, reword or move some parts that you have written, as this will help you shape your extended essay into the finished article. You can, if needed, even slightly alter your question and adapt your research to focus on the new question. Whatever changes you have to make, they are all moving you towards a complete final version, so stay positive!