Research Qualifications: Extended Essay for IB - Operation Wallacea

Research Qualifications: Extended Essay for IB

How EE’s can be linked to Opwall Expeditions

Opwall carries out biodiversity surveys and research work in countries all over the world with a balance between Marine and Terrestrial research.  Participating in this are over 200 academics from universities all over the world who are involved in research programmes which students can witness and become involved with.  This results in a vast and varied research environment which will enable an IB students to base their EE topic around (see Research Qualification Topic database).

IB – Extended Essay Guide

Extended Essay Guide

  • Biology – Essays in biology may be based on data collected by the student through experimentation, survey, microscopic observations, biological drawing, fieldwork or some other appropriate biological approach. Alternatively, essays may be based on data or information obtained from literature, ideally from primary sources, and manipulated or analysed in an original way by the student. Whichever approach is chosen, the student must ensure that sufficient resources, in the form of data and information, can be obtained in order to allow the topic to be effectively researched.
  • Environmental systems and societies – Environmental systems and societies focuses upon the interaction and integration of “natural” environmental systems and human societies. An essay in this subject should likewise focus on this relationship. It should not deal exclusively with ecological processes or with societal activities, but instead should give significant (though not necessarily equal) weight to both these dimensions. A topic should be chosen that allows the student to demonstrate some grasp of how both environmental systems and societies function in the relationship under study. For example, while the environmental systems and societies syllabus includes a study of pure ecological principles, in an extended essay it would have to be explored within the context of some human interaction with the environmental system.
  • Geography – An extended essay in geography provides students with an opportunity to apply a range of skills to produce an independent and in-depth geographical study. The nature of an extended essay in geography is characterized by a spatial emphasis and the application of geographical theory and methodology.

How does it work?

Once the student has an initial idea he/she needs to email with their interests and initial ideas and contact details so that one of the academic staff working with Opwall can contact them to discuss possible research questions. This application should be submitted as soon as possible and ideally at least 3 or 4 months BEFORE their expedition date.

Once the student has chosen their research question area they would then be given advice on relevant reading and provided with past data (if available) to study.  The student should submit a brief summary and title for their proposed research question. Their proposal will be responded to by one of the Opwall academic staff and their final version should be submitted well in advance of their departure on their expedition.

Any student using data collected with Operation Wallacea will need to sign an agreement form which will be supplied once plans for their IRP are in place.

Once in the field the students have access to scientists and field biologists who can provide additional knowledge and advice.  Most research-based qualifications are either dissertation style or investigative projects although most of the research programmes  they will be involved in have standardised surveying techniques (needed to compare between sites or over time) so the student will not have the opportunity to design and implement their own survey methodology.  However, on expedition, the student will invariably be involved in contributing data using these standardised methods and they will have the opportunity to have access to larger data sets which they could then use to help answer their research question.