1.1 Guide to the guide

1.1.2 Roles and responsibilities

The extended essay requires you to write an academic essay on a topic that you choose. It is your research and your responsibility. But you are not alone. Your school is required to provide you with a supervisor for your extended essay. Besides the supervisor, you may consult with other people, such as subject teachers, librarians, your DP Coordinator, and with people outside the school as well. Here is an overview who is responsible for what. See the IB Extended Essay Guide for further clarification and official explanations. 

Slide show - Roles and responsibilities

Your responsibilities

You are responsible for:

  • choosing a topic
  • deciding on a research question
  • conducting the research
  • writing the essay
  • knowing the requirements and criteria
  • writing 3 reflection statements (500 words in total) on your RPPF
  • acknowledging your sources
  • attending meetings  
  • meeting deadlines

You and your supervisor

Ideally, your supervisor will be a teacher in the subject in which you are writing your essay. However, your subject teacher may already have a heavy workload or have other reasons for not being able to supervise you. You might have chosen a subject which is not taught in your school, so there are no subject teachers available.

The IB requires that the supervisor is a teacher in your school, and that she (or he) is not related to you. Your parent cannot supervise you; your after-hours tutor cannot supervise you; the technician who supervises your use of equipment for your science experiment cannot supervise your essay.

In brief your supervisor should: 

  • know the subject-specific requirements and the assessment criteria
  • advise and guide you on your research question and methodology
  • meet with you at least 3 times (RPPF sessions) and preferably more ('check-ins')
  • meet with you at other times to discuss your thoughts and your progress
  • comment on one completed draft
  • spend roughly 3-5 hours with you
  • authenticate your work.

You and your DP Coordinator

Your DP Coordinator is the main connection between your school and the IB. For this reason, your DP Coordinator: 

  • may ask you about deadlines
  • may check your progress

Other people

As you conduct your research you will find that other people can offer you a wealth of information and assistance. Librarians, teachers, friends and family members may be knowledgeable about your topic. If you have someone from outside your school to help with certain aspects of your work, that person should know what kind of help is permitted. In brief, they may guide you in certain ways but they may not direct, write, correct or edit your work. The IB provides a letter and form for this purpose; the signed form must be included as an appendix to your essay and uploaded along with the essay itself. Contributions of outsiders should be acknowledged. Your supervisor must be satisfied that the work in the essay is all yours, except where you have acknowledged otherwise.

Figure 1.1.2a - Where to go for advice


Who do you go to when your lab experiment fails, you can't find sources or you want to change your topic? Download this worksheet and discuss the situations with your supervisor.

Famous quotes

  • "The most important thing we need to remember is that we're a work in progress. Do not be ashamed or afraid to ask for help."
    - Carnie Wilson (1968-)
  • "You cannot teach creativity - how to become a good writer. But you can help a young writer to discover within himself what kind of writer he would like to be."
    Mario Vargas Llosa, (1936-)


  • Meeting briefly and frequently with your supervisor is better than meeting rarely and extensively. 
  • Keep open channels of communication with your supervisor. You should be able to email him or her with ideas and keep him or her up to date on your progress.
  • Keep a Researcher's Reflection Space (or research journal) to remind yourself of where you've been and where you are going; take this to your meetings.