Crafting a Strong Research Question for IB Extended Essays

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay is a significant piece of independent research that you'll complete during your IB Diploma years. It's an opportunity to explore a topic of personal interest in-depth and apply the knowledge and skills gained from your IB courses. One of the first steps in writing your Extended Essay is crafting a strong research question. Here are some guidelines to help you create an effective research question:

 1. Choose a Broad Topic of Interest:

   - Your Extended Essay should revolve around a subject area that genuinely interests you. This could be a subject you're studying in school or a topic related to a hobby or personal passion.

 2. Narrow Down Your Focus:

   - Once you've chosen a broad topic, narrow it down to a specific aspect or question you want to explore. For example, if your interest is in history, you might focus on a particular time period or event.

 3. Consider the Feasibility:

   - Ensure that your research question is feasible within the scope of the Extended Essay. It should be something you can research and analyze in-depth using the resources available to you.

 4. Ensure it is Relevant:

   - Your research question should be relevant to the subject area and the specific guidelines of the Extended Essay. It should also be relevant to the context in which it is being studied.

 5. Make it Analytical:

   - The best research questions are analytical and require critical thinking. They don't just ask for factual information but require you to analyze and interpret data and sources.

 6. Avoid Yes/No Questions:

   - Your research question should not be answerable with a simple yes or no. Instead, it should prompt discussion, analysis, and exploration.

 7. Use Keywords:

   - Use specific keywords that indicate the scope and focus of your research. This will help guide your research and ensure you stay on track.

 8. Refine and Revise:

   - After crafting your initial research question, take the time to refine and revise it. Consider whether it's clear, focused, and feasible.

 Examples of Strong Research Questions:

- "To what extent did the Cold War shape American foreign policy in the 20th century?"

- "What role did women play in the scientific revolution of the 17th century?"

- "How do social media platforms impact mental health among teenagers?"


A strong research question is the foundation of your Extended Essay. It should be specific, analytical, and feasible within the scope of the assignment. By following these guidelines and examples, you can craft a research question that will guide your research and analysis and lead to a successful Extended Essay.