IB Geography Extended Essay


All the marking criteria below is taken from: http://occ.ibo.org/

A: research question

(Objectives 1 and 2)
This criterion assesses the extent to which the purpose of the essay is specified. In many subjects, the aim of the essay will normally be expressed as a question and, therefore, this criterion is called the “research question”. However, certain disciplines may permit or encourage different ways of formulating the research task.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
The research question is not stated in either the introduction or on the title page or does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in an extended essay in the subject in which it is registered.
1
The research question is stated in either the introduction or on the title page but is not clearly expressed or is too broad in scope to be treated effectively within the word limit.
2
The research question is clearly stated in either the introduction or on the title page and is sharply focused, making effective treatment possible within the word limit.

Criterion A: research question

The research question must be focused, appropriate to the subject of geography, give the essay a spatial context and encourage an investigative approach. In geography, many successful essays develop the research question through the formulation of a hypothesis or hypotheses. If students do this, it is important to ensure that hypotheses are well constructed, testable, have a basis in geographical theory and involve appropriate investigative channels. The best essays have a limited number of hypotheses. Too many hypotheses can result in an essay that is unfocused or fragmented.
It is equally acceptable for the research question to examine a geographical issue, conflict or problem, which may be formulated as a proposition or statement for discussion.
The research question must be clearly stated in the abstract and in the introduction. It must be framed in a way that discourages a descriptive or narrative approach, and that encourages argument and discussion.

B: introduction

(Objectives 1 and 5)
This criterion assesses the extent to which the introduction makes clear how the research question relates to existing knowledge on the topic and explains how the topic chosen is significant and worthy of investigation.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
Little or no attempt is made to set the research question into context. There is little or no attempt to explain the significance of the topic.
1
Some attempt is made to set the research question into context. There is some attempt to explain the significance of the topic and why it is worthy of investigation.
2
The context of the research question is clearly demonstrated. The introduction clearly explains the significance of the topic and why it is worthy of investigation.

Criterion B: introduction

It is important to put the research question into a locational and theoretical context. The introduction should, therefore, clearly outline the scale and location of the investigation, and demonstrate how the topic relates to current geographical knowledge and theory. An indication should be given as to why the topic was chosen and why it warrants investigation. The introduction should be clear and concise. Care must be taken to avoid over-lengthy discourses on theoretical background.

C: investigation

(Objectives 1 and 3)
This criterion assesses the extent to which the investigation is planned and an appropriate range of sources has been consulted, or data has been gathered, that is relevant to the research question. Where the research question does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in which the essay is registered, the maximum level that can be awarded for this criterion is 2.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
There is little or no evidence that sources have been consulted or data gathered, and little or no evidence of planning in the investigation.
1
A range of inappropriate sources has been consulted, or inappropriate data has been gathered, and there is little evidence that the investigation has been planned.
2
A limited range of appropriate sources has been consulted, or data has been gathered, and some relevant material has been selected. There is evidence of some planning in the investigation.
3
A sufficient range of appropriate sources has been consulted, or data has been gathered, and relevant material has been selected. The investigation has been satisfactorily planned.
4
An imaginative range of appropriate sources has been consulted, or data has been gathered, and relevant material has been carefully selected. The investigation has been well planned.

Criterion C: investigation

It is important that the investigation uses a range of sources of information that may include data such as those listed in the “Treatment of the topic” section. The information selected must be relevant to the topic and should provide the evidence that will be used to support the argument. The essay must use data/information that is sufficient (in quality and quantity), for example, questionnaires must have enough respondents to make the findings valid. It is not essential, however, that fieldwork data forms the basis of the investigation: published data sources are also valid.
The proper planning of the essay involves the adoption of a methodology that begins with the collection and selection of appropriate information, leads to a systematic analysis with valid results, interpretation and conclusions, and ends with a critical evaluation of the evidence and the approach adopted.

D: knowledge and understanding of the topic studied

(Objectives 3 and 7)
Where the research question does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in which the essay is registered, the maximum level that can be awarded for this criterion is 2. “Academic context”, as used in this guide, can be defined as the current state of the field of study under investigation. However, this is to be understood in relation to what can reasonably be expected of a pre-university student. For example, to obtain a level 4, it would be sufficient to relate the investigation to the principal lines of inquiry in the relevant field; detailed, comprehensive knowledge is not required.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
The essay demonstrates no real knowledge or understanding of the topic studied.
1
The essay demonstrates some knowledge but little understanding of the topic studied. The essay shows little awareness of an academic context for the investigation.
2
The essay demonstrates an adequate knowledge and some understanding of the topic studied. The essay shows some awareness of an academic context for the investigation.
3
The essay demonstrates a good knowledge and understanding of the topic studied. Where appropriate, the essay successfully outlines an academic context for the investigation.
4
The essay demonstrates a very good knowledge and understanding of the topic studied. Where appropriate, the essay clearly and precisely locates the investigation in an academic context.

Criterion D: knowledge and understanding of the topic studied

Knowledge and understanding of the theoretical background and an awareness of the academic context are essential to a good essay. This should be achieved through the integration of the student’s own ideas with current geographical thought, using both primary and secondary sources.

E: reasoned argument

(Objectives 1 and 4)
This criterion assesses the extent to which the essay uses the material collected to present ideas in a logical and coherent manner, and develops a reasoned argument in relation to the research question. Where the research question does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in which the essay is registered, the maximum level that can be awarded for this criterion is 2.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
There is no attempt to develop a reasoned argument in relation to the research question.
1
There is a limited or superficial attempt to present ideas in a logical and coherent manner, and to develop a reasoned argument in relation to the research question.
2
There is some attempt to present ideas in a logical and coherent manner, and to develop a reasoned argument in relation to the research question, but this is only partially successful.
3
Ideas are presented in a logical and coherent manner, and a reasoned argument is developed in relation to the research question, but with some weaknesses.
4
Ideas are presented clearly and in a logical and coherent manner. The essay succeeds in developing a reasoned and convincing argument in relation to the research question.

Criterion E: reasoned argument

Essays that are largely narrative or descriptive cannot score highly on this criterion. The best essays develop an argument, backed up with evidence, to convince the reader of the validity of their findings. The argument may be personal, but at the same time must remain logical and balanced. In geography, evidence may be presented in graphic as well as written form, using appropriate maps, diagrams, sketches, photographs and charts/graphs.
Where relevant, the argument should present evidence that leads towards the acceptance or rejection of the original hypotheses. In the context of the investigation of an issue, conflict or problem, bias should be avoided.

F: application of analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to the subject

(Objective 7)
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
The essay shows no application of appropriate analytical and evaluative skills.
1
The essay shows little application of appropriate analytical and evaluative skills.
2
The essay shows some application of appropriate analytical and evaluative skills, which may be only partially effective.
3
The essay shows sound application of appropriate analytical and evaluative skills.
4
The essay shows effective and sophisticated application of appropriate analytical and evaluative skills.

Criterion F: application of analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to the subject

Much of the evidence presented in support of an argument in a geography essay comes from the analysis of data. This involves the use of appropriate analytical techniques and the application of relevant tests of significance. Among the valid techniques characteristic of geographical inquiry are the use of interaction and gravity models, network analysis, correlation techniques, measures of dispersion, sampling techniques and standard error calculations. Where the data is qualitative, appropriate analytical techniques should be employed. The element of personal evaluation is important when interpreting the results of data analysis. The investigation should show some awareness of the authenticity, validity, and limitations of the data and the methods used.
Where data has not been used, the essay must still incorporate a critical analysis and evaluation of the information.
It may be that the results of the analysis are unexpected or do not seem to fit established patterns. Students should not be discouraged by this. Some of the best essays have emerged when students have had to reconsider and re-evaluate their original ideas, and modify their argument accordingly. Such an awareness of the need to make constant adjustments and corrections, and to recognize shortcomings, is an essential element of research.

G: use of language appropriate to the subject

(Objective 6)
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
The language used is inaccurate and unclear. There is no effective use of terminology appropriate to the subject.
1
The language used sometimes communicates clearly but does not do so consistently. The use of terminology appropriate to the subject is only partly accurate.
2
The language used for the most part communicates clearly. The use of terminology appropriate to the subject is usually accurate.
3
The language used communicates clearly. The use of terminology appropriate to the subject is accurate, although there may be occasional lapses.
4
The language used communicates clearly and precisely. Terminology appropriate to the subject is used accurately, with skill and understanding.

Criterion G: use of language appropriate to the subject

Geographical terminology and vocabulary must be used accurately and appropriately throughout the essay. It is important to adopt an objective style that avoids lengthy personal statements and opinions, and that communicates geographical information and ideas in a clear and precise manner.

H: conclusion

(Objectives 1, 4 and 5)
This criterion assesses the extent to which the essay incorporates a conclusion that is relevant to the research question and is consistent with the evidence presented in the essay.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
Little or no attempt is made to provide a conclusion that is relevant to the research question.
1
A conclusion is attempted that is relevant to the research question but may not be entirely consistent with the evidence presented in the essay.
2
An effective conclusion is clearly stated; it is relevant to the research question and consistent with the evidence presented in the essay. It should include unresolved questions where appropriate to the subject concerned.

Criterion H: conclusion

The conclusion should synthesize the findings of the investigation and briefly reiterate the evidence relevant to the research question. The essay should state, where relevant, which hypotheses have been accepted or rejected and why. Hypotheses that have been rejected may be modified or replaced, suggesting new avenues of investigation.
The conclusion should critically evaluate the appropriateness of the methodology and acknowledge any flaws or limitations in the investigative process. Any unresolved questions that have arisen from the research should be introduced at this stage.
The conclusion should not be an emotive personal statement relating to an issue, conflict or problem, nor should it introduce new information that has not been discussed in the argument.

I: formal presentation

(Objective 5)
This criterion assesses the extent to which the layout, organization, appearance and formal elements of the essay consistently follow a standard format. The formal elements are: title page, table of contents, page numbers, illustrative material, quotations, documentation (including references, citations and bibliography) and appendices (if used).
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
The formal presentation is unacceptable, or the essay exceeds 4,000 words.
1
The formal presentation is poor.
2
The formal presentation is satisfactory.
3
The formal presentation is good.
4
The formal presentation is excellent.

Criterion I: formal presentation

This criterion relates to the extent to which the essay conforms to academic standards about the way in which research papers should be presented. The presentation of essays that omit a bibliography or that do not give references for quotations is deemed unacceptable (level 0). Essays that omit one of the required elements—title page, table of contents, page numbers—are deemed no better than satisfactory (maximum level 2), while essays that omit two of them are deemed poor at best (maximum level 1).
All illustrative material referred to in the body of the essay (maps, photographs, field sketches, charts and so on) should be located at relevant points, not collected at the end of the essay or in appendices. It should be well set out, and used to enhance the written text and clarify explanations.
Large data tables, large published maps referred to in the text, transcripts of interviews or an extensive series of calculations should be placed in the appendices. Field notes need not be included as an appendix, although it is a good idea to include one completed form in the case of questionnaires.
Where possible, the title, map reference number, date and publisher should be given for all maps consulted; and the source of all data, diagrams, graphs, charts, tables and photographs must be given.

Plagiarism and Referencing

J: abstract

(Objective 5)
The requirements for the abstract are for it to state clearly the research question that was investigated, how the investigation was undertaken and the conclusion(s) of the essay.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
The abstract exceeds 300 words or one or more of the required elements of an abstract (listed above) is missing.
1
The abstract contains the elements listed above but they are not all clearly stated.
2
The abstract clearly states all the elements listed above.

Criterion J: abstract

The abstract should clearly state the research question; give a brief account of how the investigation was carried out, the methods that were used and the types of information that were gathered; and summarize the findings as stated in the conclusion.

K: holistic judgment

(Objective 1)
The purpose of this criterion is to assess the qualities that distinguish an essay from the average, such as intellectual initiative, depth of understanding and insight. While these qualities will be clearly present in the best work, less successful essays may also show some evidence of them and should be rewarded under this criterion.
Achievement level
Descriptor
0
The essay shows no evidence of such qualities.
1
The essay shows little evidence of such qualities.
2
The essay shows some evidence of such qualities.
3
The essay shows clear evidence of such qualities.
4
The essay shows considerable evidence of such qualities.

Criterion K: holistic judgment

Qualities that are rewarded under this criterion include the following.
  • Intellectual initiative: Ways of demonstrating this in geography essays include formulating a challenging research question, employing innovative or inventive methods of data collection and data analysis, and producing a work of originality.
  • Depth of understanding and insight: These are most likely to be demonstrated through the ability of the student to:
    • grasp the theoretical background to the topic and keep it central to the investigation
    • use reflection in the development of the argument and critical evaluation of the essay
    • select and use imaginative illustrative techniques
    • overcome problems that arise
    • modify ideas in light of new evidence.