Academic IAs Subjects

Tips for Biology HL IA

As this year has proven to me, the IA is an essential portion of the final grade. It could possibly be the make it or break it point between two number grades. I chose to write my IB Biology IA on gochugaru, an ingredient within kimchi and how it affects systolic blood pressure.

I’m interested in studying diet/nutrition because it has been a revolving health factor within my relatives, including myself, ever since I was living in Vietnam. Thus, I’ve connected this topic from life in Vietnam to another culture’s cuisine that I am particularly interested in, which is Korean food. This passion allowed me to efficiently do my experiment and write my IA. Here are some of my advice below!

Figuring Out an Biology IA Topic

First, brainstorm certain topics learned in class or within the field in biology that interests you. Think about why a topic is important or related to an issue in the world. The greatest resources would be your teacher and the textbook. Also, feel free to use the internet to look up past IAs experiments to get more ideas flowing as well! However, keep in mind the available lab equipment at your school to do certain experiments.

I personally used websites like Reddit and Quora to see what other people did as a starting point. Then, I used Google Scholar to develop more information about the interesting topics I found. By analyzing different studies, I was able to develop possible experiments and eventually formulated my research question. 

What to Avoid

I would avoid doing general topics on the Internet such as mindfulness, milk spoilage, seed germination, or the effectiveness of toothpaste. Common ideas are not bad, but I suggest thinking outside the box to develop certain experiments. Instead, utilize those starting ideas and expand with your own interests. There are biology topics that can be connected to culture, music, language, and the like. Be unique and think about how it’s interesting to YOU!

Writing the IA

  1. Your introduction is about summarizing what you are doing and why you are doing it. What has inspired you to do that topic? Clearly state your interest. In the end, I recommend stating in a sentence or two why your topic is beneficial to you and your community. 
  2. Once you’ve figured out your variables and uncertainties, it’s time to collect data. The requirement is that 25 measurements must be obtained (five trials for each of the five different values selected within your independent variable). It’s fine to do more but honestly, 5 is enough. It’s key to show all of your results approximated to three significant figures. 
  3. I personally recommend using a scatter plot graph instead of a bar graph. While I do know bar graphs have worked for some people, scatter points are generally easier to analyze and allocate results for the conclusion section. Also, don’t forget to label your graph (trendline, error bars, legend, etc.) and explain the numerical data!
  4. When processing data, I suggest including a statistical test such as T-test, Spearman’s Rank, chi-squared, or standard deviation. These tests help define the statistical strength of your results. 
  5. In the conclusion, re-incorporate your research question and what you analyzed. Did the experiment result(s) match your hypothesis? How did your results progress numerically? Were there any significant trends or changes? 
  6. The key is to make your topic applicable to the real world. Justify your results with articles from credible universities or corporations. There is generally someone out there that has done a more advanced experiment similar to yours. Thus, it’s best to compare the results and explain them in the conclusion of the IA.
  7. If you’ve done a lab report before, the evaluation portion is about writing the errors and limitations of the experiment. Think about any uncertainties, error bars, and values that don’t fit and explain why. Give a reason for how each limitation can be improved. It’s also important to consider how your study can be extended! Write about how your experiment can be developed if a variable or process is altered. 
  8. Make sure to properly cite your sources and pictures (unless you draw them yourself). I recommend using Cite This for Me.

Here are samples of my Biology IA

Tips on Getting a 7

  • Be willing to accept other suggestions/constructive criticisms
  • Make sure your IA flows! Be direct and don’t add fluff or seemingly advanced terminology 
  • Proofread! Have other people read your IA and see if it makes sense to them, especially the procedure portion
  • Don’t stress! It takes time to write an IA and I recommend taking it step by step!

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@lind.lam) for specific questions!

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