THE STRUCTURE OF THE ESSAY IS VERY IMPORTANT!

There’s an entire section of the markscheme dedicated to the structure and clarity of the essay! Don’t ignore those marks!
Below are the sections of a chem EE in order of what comes first etc.
It may seem like this is a waste of time (me writing this) but there’s not a clear structure anywhere really so I struggled with the structure of mine.

A TITLE PAGE

Nothing more, nothing less than this. If you’re using MLA8 formatting, then this should be 12 point Arial.

International Baccalaureate
Extended Essay – Chemistry
Research Question: ___
Word Count: ___

AN ABSTRACT (OPTIONAL)

If your EE is complicated, and you’re not struggling for words then I highly suggest you add an abstract to your EE. It helps improve the clarity and give a quick summary which can get you marks in criterion D.
 
An abstract is basically a 200-300 word summary of the essay. In previous years, an abstract was compulsory and not included in the word count but it has recently been removed as a compulsory section, and is included in the word count.
 
If you do include an abstract, it must state:
 – The research question clearly
 – The scope of the investigation (e.g. times between x and y minutes, temperatures between a and b)
 – The conclusion of the essay

A CONTENTS PAGE

SET UP AN AUTOMATIC CONTENTS PAGE USING WORD!

I suggest that you start a contents page on word early. Don’t manually make one, let Word do it for you.

Contents page in word (references)

Let Word help you make a contents page. Once it’s set up, it makes life so much easier for you.

Headings (word contents page)

Then all you have to do is use the ‘Headings’ to organise your contents page.

This makes it much easier to format and organise your EE, especially if you’re starting a new section.

ORGANISE YOUR SECTIONS BY NUMBER

Split your EE into chunks. It improves clarity if your contents page is also organised by number. It doesn’t matter if some sections are small and are all on the same page, it still makes it way easier.

EE contents page

This is a part of my contents page. I don’t want to show you all of it because otherwise I’ll plagiarize myself (this is a May 19 session EE)

OUTLINE OF THE INVESTIGATION

THE AIM

Outline the parameters of the investigation. This can be done by re-wording the research question.
 
For example:
To investigate the experimental relationship between the temperature and percentage yield of aspirin using method y for temperatures between 10 and 80 degrees when reacting salicylic acid and ethanoic anhydride under controlled conditions (if possible state some).
 
I just made that one up though.

RESEARCH QUESTION

Your research question needs to be clear and focused. Use this opportunity to throw in some subject specific terminology to boost your criterion B mark.
 
How to form a good research question:
  • State the independant and dependant variables
  • Make it as short as possible without missing out any key details e.g. a certain method

INTRODUCTION

This is the first real writing in your EE unless you have an abstract. Introduce your topic and question:
  • Some basic background information. Not too much, just the basics
    • What real life application does your topic/question have?
    • Are any of the techniques you’re using used commonly in industry?
  • Why is this topic and question worthy of investigation?
    • (again) Is it used in industry?
    • Is there a lot of research in the area? (If not then good)
  • What made you choose the topic?
    • Talk about this only briefly, the bulk of this sort of stuff should go in the RPPF

BACKGROUND RESEARCH

This is where the bulk of the chemistry should be. This section should also account for about 1/4 of the entire essay. There’s more information about where to do background research here:

In this section you should include:
  • Any methods you’ve used to collect your data
    • Anything that isn’t straightforward or obvious (not titrations or dilutions etc)
      • e.g. colourimetry, etc
  • Any calculations or laws you’ve used to interpret your results
    • Explain them in this section.
    • Don’t put your real calculations here though
  • Any relevant chemistry to do with your experiment
    • Put chemical formulas for everything that happens in your experiment
      • They’re not included in the word count so put as many as you like

PRELIMINARY TRIALS

This is a section where you can pick up a lot of marks in Criterion C: Critical Thinking.
  • Why was this particular method chosen over others?
    • What options did you have, and why did you chose this method?
  • Did anything go wrong in your preliminary trials?
    • How did you fix the problem/s?
  • Any preliminary data you collected
  • Why you changed the things you did (if you did)
    • The better your reasons for your changes, the better your Criterion C mark (critical thinking)

JUSTIFICATION OF METHODOLOGY

Your pre-trials will determine the methodology for the real data collection of the EE. Take notes on your observations and why you made changes to the original experiment. All this stuff should go under this section.

EXPERIMENTAL VARIABLES

This section should be split into two parts, the experimental variables themselves and the justification for them

EXPERIMENTAL VARIABLES

  • State your variables (Independant, dependant, controls)
  • Explain how you controlled them/kept them constant

JUSTIFICATION OF EXPERIMENTAL VARIABLES

  • Why did you choose your independent variable?
    • Link it to your introduction
  • Why did you choose your dependant variable?
    • Easier to measure?
    • More accurate?
  • Why did you choose to control your control variables?
    • Large effect on the results?
  • More detail as to how these variables were controlled throughout the experiment

METHODOLOGY AND JUSTIFICATION

This section encompasses 4 sections in total:
Methodology
 – Apparatus
 – Chemicals
 – Methodology
​ – Safety

APPARATUS

Detail, but not too much detail

  • Don’t list simple lab glassware (e.g. beakers or conical flasks)
  • List any measuring equipment used, along with the uncertainty (e.g. ±0.5 cm3)

CHEMICALS

Again, detail but not too much detail

  • Don’t list volumes of water used – water will always be in the lab.
  • List exact volumes, masses and concentrations of all chemicals used, and uncertainties in their concentrations.

METHODOLOGY

  • Be clear and concise
    • Clear enough that anyone with the same knowledge of chemistry as you could understand it.
    • This is also a bulky section of the EE, a good place to cut down words…
  • Do list volumes of water used in steps – this is important because you need to know volumes of water for washings or dilutions
  • Detail!
    • The more (necessary and useful)detail is in this section, the better.

SAFETY

This section is best done in bullet point form to save words and improve clarity.
  • The hazards for every chemical used
    • How you should consider those hazards in the lab (e.g. wear eye protection at all times)
    • How to deal with any spillage, leak or accidental consumption (or non accidental if you take HL maths)
  • Cite these hazards!

DATA ANALYSIS

  • COMPLETE Raw data table
    • Full results including anomalies
    • Also including control variables you have measured (e.g. temp of the lab as a control)
  • Data processing
    • Relevant graphs showing relationship between two variables
    • Examples and explanations of any calculations you’ve done
    • Comparison to theory
      • Is it in line with what should theoretically happen or does it deviate?

APPENDIX

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  1.  THE APPENDIX IS NOT REQUIRED READING FOR AN EXAMINERDon’t put anything in there that is essential for any arguments you have made.
  2. Reference your appendix in your essay (especially in data analysis). If you’ve drawn a graph, underneath write something like Data plotted in this graph can be found on pg. 30 (section 9.13) in the appendix.

(This is why I suggest organising the sections of your EE by number so you can easily reference back)

THE APPENDIX SHOULD INCLUDE:

  • All raw and processed data (step by step) and calculations.
    • Tables of data that have been represented in graphs
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