For any student writing a research paper, the proposal is the most important step in the process. The quality of your proposal can be the deciding factor in whether the review board accepts your topic. Here are some steps to help you write a proposal for a research paper. (1500 – 1800 words)

How to Make an Introduction

Effective research papers are not written in one day. It takes weeks of preparation to create a well-researched paper with a strong structure and authoritative references. Students assigned research papers are sometimes required to submit a proposal — usually three to four pages in length — that demonstrates the manner in which you will write the paper. This proposal is an important step because it will become the foundation upon which you write your paper. Before writing the proposal, create an outline that addresses all the main points you will cover.

Your introduction sets the tone for your research paper and provides the reader with a first impression of your writing and your thesis. Follow a few guidelines listed below and find yourself writing effective introductions that convince your readers that your thesis and research are worth their time and attention.

Instructions to writing research paper

  1. Write down the main topic of your paper. For example, if your paper is about the correlation between crime and economic hardship, your topic could be, “Crime rates and poverty: the causal link between violence and the lack of economic opportunities.”
  2. Write two or three short sentences under the main topic that explain why you chose that topic. These should be facts, supportable by the initial research you have done. For example, if you are writing a paper about the relationship between high crime rates and chronic unemployment, state how this problem is relevant socially, politically and economically.
  3. Write a thesis sentence that states the angle and purpose of your research paper. For example, if your topic is about the link between crime and poverty, your thesis statement could be, “Job creation is the most important factor in reducing the crime rate in many inner-city communities.”
  4. List the items you will cover in the body of the paper that support your thesis statement. For example, under the thesis statement in step three, you could write, “I will begin by giving background information on rising crime rates in the inner city. I will then cite statistics that demonstrate the correlation between high areas of unemployment and crime. I will then discuss various solutions advanced by sociologists and government officials, and their effectiveness or lack thereof.”
  5. Provide a list of preliminary sources to give whomever may read the outline an idea of the authority of your references. In a paper about the crime rate’s relation to joblessness, you could list government studies, sociological sources and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Index, a recognized authority that compiles crime statistics in the United States.


Step 1. Determine the topic

When designing a research project, we recommend preparing an initial list of ideas and topics. Such a list should be based on established guidelines and should make the research question and thesis clear.

Step 2. Secure a Mentor

It is time to secure a mentor/advisor/teacher to oversee your Extended Essay. Create an acceptable work schedule to be followed throughout the writing process.

Step 3. Outline the paper

An outline is like a road map. An outline details how you will get from here to there, and helps ensure that you take the most direct and logical route. Do not start writing without it!

Step 4. Plan Research Approach

Determine best location to find materials needed. Secure a location if required. Establish an acceptable working schedule.

Step 5. Start writing before the experimentations are complete (Science Papers)

Starting writing while you are still doing the experiments. Writing often evokes new ideas: you may realize that there are additional experiments to run or additional controls that you need to add. If you wait until you are done in the lab, have dismantled the equipment, and possibly moved on to another position, you will not have the opportunity to test these ideas.

Step 6. Begin Research

This may include reading the central work, constructing a working bibliography or gathering data. Your research mater should be organized and easy to access.

Step 7. Determine the basic format

There are three basic formats for Extended Essay papers:

            Full-length Research Science Reports: These reports contain a comprehensive investigation of the subject matter and are viewed as the standard format. It uses the “IMRAD” format – Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.  Their length will be set by IBO and are usually 3500-4000 words or less.

            Formal Essay: A full-length research paper, these papers can also make a significant contribution to the literature of the subject matter. Their length will be set by IBO and are usually 3500-4000 words or less.

            Artistic Creation Assessments: These compositions require the creation of original work by the student in the fields or Music or Fine Arts. These reports usually have immediate implications on existing research and material.

Step 8. Things to Consider

There are several factors to consider when writing an Extended Essay.

Language: English has become the dominant form for the International Baccalaureate Program. Therefore, grammar, spelling and syntax are all relevant.

 Focus: Is its focus broad or narrow? Which disciplines are represented? What is the orientation – for example, is it clinical or basic, theoretical or applied?

Format: All papers in the same subject area must be formatted in a similar manner. Coordination must be established department by department.

Figures, Graphs & Charts: Do figures aid in the understanding of your topic?

Time to Print: Submission dates must be clearly established. These permits time for evaluation and assessment within the home school before shipping off site, for final evaluation by IBO.

Step 9. Argument Assessment

Do your arguments support your thesis and answer your research question? As you think about your paper, store relevant research material in an effective manner. This will save time and avoid frustration when the writing begins. Stored items might include figures, references, and ideas.

Step 10. Write the first draft

Write the first draft of the entire manuscript. Some people recommend that you begin your writing with the Introduction and continue through in order each section of the paper. This can help ensure flow. However, others suggest that you start wherever you wish – anything to get rid of that blank screen or piece of paper. What ever your approach, heed the advice of Charles Sides (1991): “If you try to write and edit at the same time, you will do neither well.” Since editing is often a lot easier than writing, push through this step as quickly as possible. If you are taking much more than a week, you have probably paused to edit!

Step 11. Get feedback on your Extended Essay and revise your manuscript

Getting feedback is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your paper. Indicate to what levels of information you would like (e.g., comments on the content, logic, language, and/or style). After you get their comments, revise your manuscript to address their concerns.

Step 12. Deal with Mentors’ comments

Most Extended Essays are not accepted on the first submission. However, you may well be invited to resubmit a revised version.

Step 13. Consider the Need for Additional Research or Experimentation

Most Extended Essays will require follow-up research to resolve unclear information or data. Clarity is critical at this stage.

Step 14. Revise your Extended Essay

This step involves three major tasks, each to be carried out in the order given:

(1) Make major alterations: Fill in gaps, correct flaws in logic, restructure the document to present the material in the most logical order.

(2) Polish the style: Refine the text, and then correct grammar and spelling.

(3) Format the document: Make your manuscript attractive and easy to read             It is important to do the tasks in the stated order. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending a lot of time revising material that you later delete. Structure is worth 24 of the 36 points in the Extended Essay.

Step 15. Check the references

Ensure that the citations are correct and complete. Complete one last literature search to make certain that you are up to date. Format of all references should have been previously established by each department within your school.

Step 16. Construct the tables, figures, and legends (Optional)

The entire paper should be organized around the information/data you will present. By preparing the tables, figures (and their legends and appropriate statistical analyses), you will be certain of your results before you worry too much about their interpretation. You also may be able to determine if you have all the data you need.

WARNING: if you choose to include tables, figures or charts of any kind they can be located within the body of the paper in Art, Music and Science Extended Essays. However, for all other subject areas these items should be located in the Appendix of the Extended Essay and does not count in the total word count of the paper.  Furthermore, the markers of the Extended Essay are not required to consult theses documents unless the writer has made a minimum of three direct references to the specified item.

Step 17. Draft a title, table of content & abstract.

Drafting a working title, table of content and an abstract helps define the contents of the paper, identifying the relevant aspects of the paper.

Step 18. Write the final title and abstract

Many changes are made during the editing process. Make certain that your title and abstract match the final version of your article.

Step 19. Check the proofs

Once the work is approved by your Mentor and prepared for submission, carefully correct any remaining typos, structural irregularities or factual errors. And read the work for clarity – this is your last chance!

20. Celebrate!

Enjoy the moment!

How to write a bibliography

Turabian Quick Guide

Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations presents two basic documentation systems, notes-bibliography style (or simply bibliography style) and parenthetical citations–reference list style (or reference list style). These styles are essentially the same as those presented in The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, with slight modifications for the needs of student writers.

Bibliography style is used widely in literature, history, and the arts. This style presents bibliographic information in footnotes or endnotes and, usually, a bibliography.

The more concise reference list style has long been used in the physical, natural, and social sciences. In this system, sources are briefly cited in parentheses in the text by author’s last name and date of publication. The parenthetical citations are amplified in a list of references, where full bibliographic information is provided.

Below are some common examples of materials cited in both styles. Each example is given first in bibliography style (a note [N], followed by a bibliographic entry [B]) and then in reference list style (a parenthetical citation [P], followed by a reference list entry [R]). For a more detailed description of the styles and numerous specific examples, see chapters 16 and 17 of Turabian’s Manual for bibliography style and chapters 18 and 19 for reference list style.

Online sources that are analogous to print sources (such as articles published in online journals, magazines, or newspapers) should be cited similarly to their print counterparts but with the addition of a URL and an access date. For online or other electronic sources that do not have a direct print counterpart (such as an institutional Web site or a Weblog), give as much information as you can in addition to the URL and access date. The following examples include some of the most common types of electronic sources.