Your extended essay – pulling it all together

5. Pulling it all together. This is when you have to waste a little paper, and print out your essay. Then, sit and read the whole thing from beginning to end. If it doesn’t hold together, start writing links between the content and the argument. This is not a story; it is an argument.

EE pulling it all togetherThe EE needs a ‘shape’. It needs to hold together, with the argument complete with analysis and evaluation, running throughout it. The introduction poses the question and the conclusion answers it. The main argument has empirical support that is critically evaluated for its explanatory power. Limitations in the evidence and the argument are identified and an alternative argument is presented, along with analysis and evaluation. This structure is just my suggestion, based on over twenty years of supervising psychology extended essays, and it seems to work well. The arrows show the parts that must be linked explicitly. The word count is for the first half. After all, the main argument has to be at least 50% of the words, if not more.

After you are happy with your structure and are sure the tight links are made between the theories and arguments and the introduction and conclusion, then go back to your computer, and a page at a time, type in these links from your print out. Make sure at this point that your spacing is 1.5 or even double-spaced, and that the formatting is perfect. Pages should be numbered and use a 12pt. ‘academic’ font like Times New Roman, Calibri or Garamonde. Then hide the print out, or label it carefully ‘Draft only!’ and save your updated copy as your final copy, in a separate folder on your computer, backed up, remembering to add the components below, of course.

Title page. Should contain the title, the research question, the word count, the subject and the exam session (May or November and the year).

Contents page. Should comprise the headings and sub-headings of your essay, organised by page number.

References list. Hopefully you have saved all your references in your Word document, using the References function. So long as your in-text citations and your references are complete and consistently formatted, with the DOI or URL present in the alphabetically-organised references list, you are set to go. Do not list everything you ever looked at – just the works used to write the essay. Your school librarian can be very helpful here, or there are many websites that can help with the formatting and collation of references.

Your reflections, written on your RPPF form (ask your teacher). You have a total of 500 words to reflect on the decision-making and planning that you have conducted. There are three: the first reflection, an interim reflection (usually about the time of your first draft) and the final reflection, which is after your last meeting with your supervisor, where you summarise your research and they ask questions. This is often called the ‘viva voce.’ I suggest splitting them to use 300 words between the first two and save 200 words for the last one. You should explain decisions made; evaluate the wisdom of those decisions; reflect on your response to setbacks; evaluate your final work. Your reflections are therefore, like your extended essay, analytical.

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