IB Extended Essay: Choosing a Research Topic

The IB Extended Essay is a significant research project that challenges high school students to engage in independent research and writing. One of the most critical decisions in this process is choosing a research topic. Your topic will shape the entire research project, so it's essential to select one that not only interests you but also aligns with your academic strengths. In this article, we'll explore the process of choosing a research topic for your IB Extended Essay.

 1. Identify Your Interests

Start by brainstorming your areas of interest. Think about the subjects you are passionate about and any specific topics that have captivated your curiosity. Your Extended Essay will be a long-term project, so choosing a topic you find genuinely engaging is crucial.

 2. Consider Your Subjects

If you have a clear idea of which subject you'd like to write your Extended Essay in, consider the topics within that subject. For example, if you plan to write your essay in history, think about historical periods, events, or figures that intrigue you.

 3. Review Class Notes and Texts

Review your class notes, textbooks, and materials related to your subjects. Sometimes, a topic you've encountered in class can inspire your research. Look for gaps in your knowledge or unanswered questions that pique your interest.

 4. Consult with Teachers

Your teachers can provide valuable guidance when selecting a topic. They can help you evaluate the feasibility and relevance of potential topics. Discuss your ideas with them and consider their input.

 5. Explore Personal Experiences

Personal experiences, such as travel, community involvement, or unique hobbies, can inspire research topics. Think about how your personal experiences might connect with your academic pursuits.

 6. Consider Career Aspirations

If you have career aspirations, think about how your Extended Essay topic might align with those goals. A well-chosen topic can provide you with valuable knowledge and skills relevant to your future endeavors.

 7. Be Specific and Focused

Select a specific and focused topic. A narrow topic is easier to research and allows for more in-depth exploration. Avoid broad or vague subjects that may lead to shallow research.

 8. Assess the Availability of Resources

Consider the availability of resources for your chosen topic. Ensure that you have access to relevant books, articles, databases, and primary sources. Insufficient resources can hinder your research.

 9. Evaluate the Research Question

Once you've identified a potential topic, formulate a research question. Your question should be clear, specific, and researchable. It should guide your investigation and exploration.

 10. Conduct a Preliminary Search

Before finalizing your topic, conduct a preliminary search to check for existing research and resources. This will help you determine if your topic has enough academic support.

 11. Stay Open to Revision

Be open to adjusting your topic as you delve deeper into your research. Your initial ideas may evolve or require refinement as you gather more information.

 12. Seek Inspiration

Read research papers, articles, and essays to gain inspiration. Understanding how other researchers have tackled similar subjects can provide insights and help you refine your topic.


Choosing a research topic for your IB Extended Essay is a significant decision, and it's essential to approach it thoughtfully. Consider your interests, subjects, available resources, and research question formulation. Stay open to adjustments and seek guidance from teachers and experts in your chosen subject area. With the right topic, your Extended Essay can be a rewarding and intellectually stimulating endeavor.