Section 1: Planning your IA
Arguably, thinking of what to write up on can be the toughest part of your IA. However, forming the right plan can set you up for an IA that has sufficient depth for analysis, allowing you to submit a potentially high-scoring IA within the given time frame.
Here are key pointers you should consider when you are planning your IA:
Research Question (RQ)
1. The RQ has to be focused.
· Does your RQ have an independent variable?
· Does your RQ have a dependent variable?
· Did you use a particular methodology for your experiment? If yes, include it in the
RQ. (eg. Winkler’s titration method)
2. The RQ has to be feasible.
· Do you have access to all the required chemicals and apparatus for your
experiment? Should you purchase them, how long does it take to arrive?
· Can you collect all data within a total of 10 hours?
3. As for students writing a Chemistry EE, ensure that your IA RQ should not overlap in
any way with your EE RQ.
AVOID SUCH RQs:
· The research question is a simple laboratory experiment that you can simply complete in one lab session.
· The research question is so simple that even without doing the experiment, the results can be predicted quite accurately using simple chemistry concepts.
· The research question cannot be a simple comparison of different brands, species of fruits, different plants etc (NO BRAND ANALYSIS) as there is no chemistry basis behind their differences other than they are of different sources and this will limit your analysis later on.
· The independent variable should have at least 5 or more values in the range to be
· The independent variable should be a continuum of equal intervals, rather than
(e.g. 30°C vs 40°C vs 50°C vs…, rather than Brand X vs Y vs Z vs…)
· If working on pH, initial pH OR buffered pH?
· The dependent variable should be quantifiable or measurable.
· If working on rate, specifically initial rate OR rate over time OR average rate?
Think of the controlled variables and reason them.
· Why is there a need to control?
· How to control?
||Why is there a need to control?
||How to control?
|Volume of solutions used for the replications
||Use a syringe to measure the volume of solutions used
||Ensure homogeneous solution
||Stirring bar and magnetic stirrer
|Type of syringes used
||If syringes with different uncertainties are used, there will be a greater uncertainty for the calculation of the Arrhenius constant
||Use identical syringes with the same and smallest uncertainty
Section 2: Writing your IA
After planning your IA and collecting relevant data, you should be able to follow-through with writing your IA easily. After all, there is a rough structure that examiners look out for in your IA (giving marks according to a rubric/criteria) and if you are able to include them into your write-up, you will score the highest tier in each segment of the marking rubric/criteria. However, although an IA has no word-limit, do remember that there is a page-limit of 12 pages, hence it is important to keep certain parts of the IA brief and short, leaving more room for the Data Analysis and Evaluation sections.
Here are the sections that should be in included in your IA in order, and also a step-by-step guide on what should be included in each section:
· Motivation behind your research – relating to personal
motivation/interest/encounters that got you looking into this topic or RQ
· Include a brief synopsis of the background that supports your research question and
explain why this research is important scientifically and if applicable, explain any
societal impact of your research
· Keep this brief and short – at maximum half a page
· What has been previously studied in this field/topic?
· What is already known related to your RQ?
· Any missing gaps which your RQ is addressing? (i.e., What is your reason for
working on this RQ?)
o Expand the range to work in
o Narrow the range with smaller intervals
o Apply the RQ on a different species
· Chemistry theory / concepts specific to the RQ
o such as your independent and dependent variable
o reaction under investigation
o the methodology to be used etc.
● What is the expected trend? How can this be explained by chemistry concepts?
● If it is not possible to come out with a hypothesis, then explain the chemistry concepts behind why the independent variable might have an effect on the dependent variable
○ The analysis of how the independent variable affects the dependent variable MUST be chemistry related
· Although optional, it is good to add secondary sources such as, literature data and theoretical models from research articles, which support the hypothesis obtained
o Copy and paste the graph, trend or equation obtained in the literature paper for verification
Describe your methodology as follows (in order):
· State your independent variable
· State your dependent variable
· State your controlled variables – listed down in a table with additional columns explaining for each; Why is there a need to control? How to control?
· What choices of methodology there are to be used in this RQ based on your research?
· Why did you choose the above method over other possible methods?
· Any modifications that might be necessary to suit your RQ
· Detail all procedures and experimental design including methods for data collection including (where relevant to show your critical thinking and decision making) – Procedure has to be very detailed. Such that someone can do follow the steps to conduct this experiment without asking any questions.
o Justification for choices of materials
o Why certain steps included
o Concentration ranges to use
o Duration of reactions
o How many replicates per independent variable
· What kind of qualitative and quantitative data will you be collecting?
· Describe how you will process the raw data to get final data that answers RQ
o There MUST be some form of data processing using the raw data and error propagation to fulfil rubrics
· How you would analyse the data/results that answer research questions or hypotheses.
o the type of graphs to be plotted
o comparison to secondary data/trend from literature sources (if any)
o any statistical analysis to validate the results etc
· Consider the nature of the chemicals to be used – any possible problem that could be minimised prior to experimentation
· Evaluate the methodology and calculation to be used – any assumptions or limitations available for discussion later on and suggestions for improvement
· Identify at least 2 strengths of your experiment
· Identify the type of error in your methodology and calculation (Random Vs Systematic) and suggest improvements
Possible extensions from this research
· The extension should be meaningful / purposeful / feasible. One tip will be to either:
o Change the independent variable, while keeping the methodology and dependent variable the same
o Changing the methodology, while keeping the independent variable and dependent variable the same
· List at least five 8 major references (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review