Tips for writing an EE in Psychology

“Extended essay” – It’s funny how the mere mention of these two words can send a shiver running down the spine of IB students. Writing a 4000-word essay can seem like a daunting task, especially if you haven’t had the experience of writing an academic research paper. But unfamiliarity doesn’t necessarily have to be synonymous with dread. In fact, writing the extended essay can be an extremely insightful and interesting adventure if you pick a topic and a subject that you absolutely love. For me that was Psychology, and here are my tips on how to write a Psychology EE.

1. Talk to seniors who have written their EE in Psychology

Always remember that anyone who has written an EE will be willing to help a junior because they have been in your position. I asked my seniors questions such as “ how was your experience with the Psychology EE supervisor ?”, “how long did it take you to write the first draft”, and where did they find their studies from? Getting to know about their experience helped me get a better understanding of what I was putting myself into and made me feel prepared to start with my EE. 

2. Document everything

I used a padlet to brainstorm all of my ideas and jot down every idea that “sparked joy” inside me. The human brain isn’t capable of absorbing every single piece of information, making it extremely important to write things down so that ideas don’t simply slip away from your mind. Using a vision board, post its, or a padlet can help you create a visual representation of your brainstorming process. 

Documenting your thoughts and steps of the process will also help you write reflections and prepare for your viva after you are done writing your EE.

Here is the link to my padlet which was my life saviour. 10/10 would recommend! 

3. Stay Organized

In my opinion, writing the actual EE is much easier than the preparation that leads up to it. You might feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of research studies; to tackle the stress, follow the following steps:

Step 1: Always bookmark webpages and journal articles that you think can support your claims and counterclaims for the EE. 

Step 2: Keep a master google doc where you log every link or information that you use. This will make sure that everything that you come across is accessible to you. It might become an extremely long document but that’s fine because you will cut out the irrelevant bits and pieces later on.

Step 3: Go through the google doc and highlight the studies that are relevant to your research question. My research question was “ to what extent is EMDR an efficacious treatment for PTSD caused due to sexual assault in adults.” I had to make sure that I only selected studies which focused on PTSD, had used EMDR and had been conducted on adults – these criteria helped me shortlist my research material.

Step 4: Once you have your shortlist, create a spreadsheet where you enter the following information: 

i) Name of the research study/article

ii) Name of the authors

iii)Link from where you accessed the study

This is what my spreadsheet of sources looked like for reference

Doing so will help you cite your sources in your bibliography to avoid plagiarism!

4. Start writing!

I know how daunting a blank google doc can seem, but the only way to move forward is to actually start writing. Like seriously, just write the first page – choose a font (Times New Roman for the win), write the subject in which you’re doing your EE, your Research Question, IB session and word count- with double spacing . Doing just this much will make you feel like a professional. After this, set small deadlines for yourself. Spend a few days writing your introduction, spend some time writing about a few studies and before you know you will have a rough draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to exist; you can always edit it later. 

Think of writing a Psych EE as writing a bunch of essay response questions, you have practised enough of those and this is no different! And for the moments when it just seems to be too much work? Step back, let your EE breathe and come back to it after some time, it may provide a different perspective! Most importantly, believe in yourself! You’ve got this. It might seem impossible and you might be intimidated by the number of words you have to write but trust me you can do this and you can do it well!*virtual hugs*

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