Completing a research trail

Completing a research trail

November, 23, 2010 • Posted by 0 Comments

Law booksA research trail is an abbreviated, but nonetheless narrative, account of how you got from the essay question to your answers/conclusions. This means that that you should be able to explain the whole ‘journey’ of your research. The best way of doing this is to keep records of what you are doing as you go along. So for example, you would take note of the first books you consulted in the library and which chapters you looked at. If these referred you on to other sources, including perhaps electronic materials, then take a note of that too, and so on.

It will be apparent that the research trail must be edited from its original form so as to fit within usually a 600 word limit. You need to reference everything that you eventual use in the extended essay (if there is one). Material that is not utilised need not be included.

The references used in the research trail may be shortened based on what is included in your Bibliography. The key is that it remains intelligible to the examiner. For example, an easy way to save words is to refer only to the author of the referenced source, rather than the full title of the work (although this will have to be modified where you have utilised multiple works by the same author).

The method by which you organise your research trail is largely up to you. It needs to relate the whole journey of your research from basic premise to final conclusions. The precise manner in which you choose to order the trail need not be rigid. However, a good rule of thumb to follow is that the resources should be presented in the broad order in which they are utilised in the text – flexibility here would allow you to deviate from this where the order in which the material was discovered is radically different to how it is finally used.

Your research trail will usually be assessed on both accuracy and complexity. A more complex trail will be capable of achieving the higher marks, but aside from this linkage, the trail is marked independently of the main body of the extended essay.

NB: Please check your individual organisation’s guidelines as these may differ from the above information.