Citing sources

The IB does not care which method of citation students use – but you have to use a consistent method of citation. Most students worldwide use APA, but MLA is also acceptable. Please do not use footnotes.  These are strongly discouraged and are not standard citation in modern science research.

In addition, footnotes should not be used to "hide" extra information. If you put extra information in footnotes, it is not assessed. Also, do not include appendices.  Examiners are under instructions not to read the appendices as part of the assessment of the essay.

For a complete guide to APA citation, check out the Purdue Owl site.

Meeting requirments

Making sure that your citation is in line with IB requirements is very important.  Failure to do so may mean that your extended essay will be flagged for academic dishonesty. This could result in your not getting your diploma.

Often people think that if they put their paper through, or another plagiarism checker, that they are all set.  There is no need to worry. But this is not true. Turnitin only shows that you have not cut and paste large amounts of text from a source directly into your essay.

The following list is what constitutes potential academic malpractice.  You should check all of these carefully before you submit your paper.

  • Do you have large sections of your essay with no citation?  As this paper is a summary of research, there should be citation in pretty much every paragraph of the essay.  When there is no citation for a whole page, this will most likely get you flagged for academic malpractice.
  • Do you have sources cited in your essay that are not listed in your references (works cited) at the end of the paper?  This will lead to academic malpractice.
  • Do you have sources listed in your works cited that are not cited in the body of your essay?  This is also a case of academic malpractice as you are being assessed on the number of sources that you "used."
  • Do you have a quote that is cited from a journal, but with no page number?  If so, this is another case of academic malpractice.  You must include page numbers for direct quotes.
  • Do you have long lists of sources for a single idea in your essay, but the sources are not discussed or used in any effective manner?  For example, Often aggression is seen in boys (Crane 2001; Riffle 2009; Bandura 2011; Stastny 2002; Hippel 1999; Gross and Maddox 2001; Coolican 2003; Brender and Fox 2001; Holub 2009).  This is not acceptable and will be seen as potential malpractice.

In addition, the IB has clearly stated minimal requirements for a use of a source. From page 33 of the extended guide, the following must be included in citations, regardless of the citation method used:

  • Author
  • Date of publication
  • Title of source
  • Page numbers (as applicable)
  • Date of access (electronic sources)
  • URL (or doi)

Please note, if you have a source that has not date of publication - you should not use it. If there is no date, it is not a good source.  Try to find that some information somewhere else.  In addition, if there is no title or author, you should also not use it.  Page numbers may not be relevant on a website; however, if you are using an online journal, then the page numbers are still required.

Remember that your works cited must match the citations.  If you write that Crane and Hannibal is your source, it is important that it is not listed as "Hannibal and Crane" in the works cited. 

Finally, when writing your works cited, do not group your sources by type.  They should be listed in one alphabetized list of sources.

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