Thinking of Writing an ITGS Extended Essay?

Source: Amy Sian Green
In the next few weeks you will have to decide upon your Extended Essay subject. Here is some advice for ITGS Extended Essays, based on what has worked (and not worked!) in the past. If you are thinking of writing an ITGS EE you should read this carefully and contact me if you have any questions.

Extended Essay Topics

  • ITGS Extended Essays require you to perform primary research. Unfortunately this means that several topics are not feasible here in El Salvador. The primary research must involve genuine stakeholders who are experts in the topic area, which interviewing friends or family just because they are convenient is a poor approach.
  • Research questions must be very specific. All parts of ITGS triangle must be included: specific stakeholders, specific technologies, specific social or ethical issues, and sometimes even a specific geographical location or a specific situation. For example:
    • “The effects of Linux on businesses” is far too vague.
    • “A study of the TCO for small businesses moving from commercial operating systems to Linux” is better.
    • “How do games affect education?” is too vague.
    • “How useful are simple English games in helping grade 4 primary school students learn English as a second language?” is better.
  • You can view other topic ideas for ITGS EEs, divided by section of the ITGS syllabus, in the post ITGS Extended Essay topic ideas.


EE Topics to avoid

  • I advise you to avoid anything related to “laptops in schools” or “Facebook in schools”. Both are boring, well-trodden topics which students often choose because they want an easy time. In my experience the result will often be a regurgitation of unsupported, non-specific claims without any meaningful conclusion. This was mentioned in the last ITGS EE Examiners report. Previous essays on these topics have scored very low grades (10-12 out of 36).
  • Any topic where you cannot perform primary research. “Robotics in medicine” might interest you, but can you find a doctor who uses robots so you can interview him? Same thing for “Computers in space”, “smart homes”, and many more. If not, you can’t do the topic – it’s that simple.
  • Topics about IT products (e.g. “New iPod released”, “Faster Intel processor”). The social impact of these is minimal.
  • Topics about things which haven’t happened yet or have only just happened. How can you find examples if something hasn’t happened yet? (E.g: new nano-computers to be released, Saudi Arabia will monitor Blackberry use)


  • Sources should not be solely Internet based. The Extended Essay guide recommends a combination of Internet resources and books, magazines, and articles.
  • Students should aim for 25-30 information sources. Many students find this surprising, but it is important.

EE Topic Checklist

  1. Does the topic present clear social and ethical issue(s)?
  2. Are these issues caused by information technology?
  3. Can you find clear sources to support these issues and impacts?
  4. Are you able to find expert stakeholders to perform primary research?
  5. If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may need to think of a different topic.

ITGS Extended Essay help

There are several books available to help you complete the EE process.

Thinking of Writing an ITGS Extended Essay?
Article Name
Thinking of Writing an ITGS Extended Essay?
Thinking of writing an Extended Essay in ITGS? Here is some ITGS EE advice, based on what has worked (and not worked!) in the past.
Publisher Name
Stuart Gray
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  1. thank you for this helpful information, however i want to do my EE on surveillence because my school recently installed
    CCTV camera in schools, but i am not getting a suitable topic on that. help pls..

  2. #1
    Well, I think you should look carefully at CCTV systems and at the definition of an IT system – in most CCTV systems there is no real "processing" of the information taking place. This suggests to me that it is not a suitable ITGS topic.

  3. Well, it would depend (among other things) on the availability of primary research options for you….and of course you need to look at all aspects of the course (stakeholders, the social/ethical issues and impacts, etc).

  4. Hi Stuart, I've heard from a few friends who are doing Extended Essays in ITGS that the research question is supposed to be based on a survey. Is this true? I need to know because I'm planning on writing my Extended Essay based on simulators.

    • There needs to be an opportunity to do primary research in the ITGS EE. That could be performed using surveys or interviews. The key thing is that primary research needs to be performed with somebody who is a major stakeholder in the IT system and who is an expert. I hope this helps.

    • The topic might be OK, but in itself it does not make a good research question. If the answer to any of the questions in the check list above is "No", then it might not be a suitable topic for you.

  5. I started writing my extended essay on social networking sites,and how it might affect the academic performance of students. I am now worried about what you said "anything related to…Facebook in schools…Previous essays on these topics have scored very low grades".

    Can you give me some tips on where there were pitfalls, so I can avoid doing the same mistakes?

    • Hakeem, I advise my students to avoid "Facebook in schools" style topics because all of the past EEs I have read along this vein have been very poor. In my experience such essays lack any real authoritative evidence for the claims they make, and typically try to use anecdotal evidence from the student's friends. Or the essays make extremely tenuous / illogical links, for example "All my the people I interviewed use Facebook and all of them are passing the IB so this proves that Facebook does not affect grades".

      This doesn't mean the topics can't be done, it is just my personal advice to my students.

    • For my primary data I used a survey to get some general information. I was going to then interview students and teachers for further evidence. I tried looking for an expert in this topic (to interview) but I just couldnt.

      Doo you think you can give me some alternative methods I can use to further investigat the topic?

    • Hakeem,

      The EE guide says the abstract needs to include the research question, the investigation method / scope, and the conclusion.

      You should definitely check the EE grading criteria to make sure you have done everything required and not missed anything out.

    • Well, there are many, many ITGS EE topics you could choose form. Your choice is really only limited by your interests (you don't want to be writing 4000 words about something that doesn't interest you!) and the availability of good research. Otherwise virtually anything that relates to ITGS could be refined into an EE question.

  6. Mr. Gray,

    I'm looking into writing an ITGS EE and am having some trouble narrowing down my topic. Any help you may provide would be greatly appreciated.

    I submitted the following proposal, which passed by my supervisor without too much question:

    Unfortunately, my supervisor is new the school and the IB program and will not be of much assistance to me in terms of getting this done correctly. In that regard, could you please take a look at my question and advise me how I might be able to clean that up?

    Granted, the wording is odd so allow me to specify what it is I want to discuss and research:
    I'm particularly interested in analysing the relationship between governments (and other high-security organisations) and groups such as Anonymous, LulzSec, and Wikileaks in recent years.

    I've only recently become aware of the ITGS triangle and am confident that my topic can fit into those terms. There are social and ethical aspects and areas of impact. As far as IT systems in context, would I be able to explore the methods used in this controversial style of hacking (DDOS attacks, social engineering, sql exploits, cloud vulnerabilities, etc)?

    As an overarching theme, I want to explore the limits of security. I've been looking into Kevin Mitnick's book an the human element of security and am considering incorporating that. I'd like to do primary research on how, with an enough effort and initiative, effectively nothing is really secure.

    I'm confused as to how I might be able to fit this into a passable research question. Do I need to specify some of these aspects?

    Thank you for any help.

    Please email me at !

    • I would strongly recommend you talk to your ITGS teacher about your choice of topic because often its appropriateness will depend on your local situation (such as availability of research material).

      I think a common mistake that students make is selecting a topic which is too broad. It is easy to think that 4,000 words is a lot – but in fact, it isn't.

  7. Dear Mr. Brown,

    First of all, I would like to commend you on your book, which has been an excellent guide for my studies. One other way I would now like your help is regardind my EE, which I plan to do in ITGS.

    My preliminary research question is "How have the relatively recent developments of Web 2.0, and its increasing usage by Indian society, affected the transfer and general standard of news within India?" Please suggest any improvments or changes that need to be made. I request you to reply to me via email- my email account is

    I greatly appreciate any aid you can provide.

  8. Thanks for this great resource. Now I just started working on an essay concerning 1 to 1 laptop programs effectivity. I planned on and acquired permission to receive random students' online activities during the school day and will perform an analysis of the effectivity of laptops in classes, given that my school is a 1 to 1 laptop program school. I will have to decide which sites are for classes versus for leisure and slacking off. I was wondering what your opinion is on the possible success of this EE considering you claimed EEs on computers in schools have low likelihoods to receive good scores.

    • Well, there is no fundamental reason why such an EE can't work – my comment was based more on students I have seen who have typically tried to make very vague, general assertions long the lines of "students like them so they must be a good thing" or even "as we know, laptops improve learning" without any sort of supporting evidence. Other students I have known have wanted to do this topic because they think it will be easy or because they think asking their friends if their laptops are "essential" somehow constitutes effective research.

      It seems that you are looking more specifically at 1-1 programmes rather than simply "laptops". It also sounds as if you are willing to select and use appropriate primary data, which is definitely the right approach. Good luck!

  9. Hello Mr.Gray,

    I'm writing an ITGS EE on how IT solutions can help students with autism. However, I'm having trouble narrowing down "IT solutions." Right now I'm stuck between tablet apps such as the for android and iPad, or something else. The problem is, I don't think there are enough 'stakeholders' (I'm assuming these are people with first-hand experience, please correct me if I'm wrong!)

    Do you have any ideas how I can broaden or further my topic without losing my original purpose?

    Thank you!

    • Hi,

      It sounds like it would be a good idea to find out exactly what the "something else" is before progressing. There are apps to help autistic users in a variety of ways (as there are many degrees of severity of autism).

      You might also want to consider focusing on one area (e.g. education: tools for autistic students).

    • Thanks for your help! It's been just over 3 months since I asked you for help and I'd just like to thank you. Right now, I'm nearly halfway through my research (the bulk are made up of journal articles and such) with 12 sources at the moment. What I'd suggest to people looking to write their EE on ITGS is that they make sure that there is are clear social/ethical issues caused or somehow influenced by technology.

  10. Hello Mr. Gray,
    I'm really confused about my ITGS extended essay, at first it was based on surveillance and my research question was: "What is the effect of bio metric surveillance on people's family life in the U.K?" but my supervisor says that I need primary research and so I can't do this essay as I have to physically interview people in the U.K. I definitely have to do my EE on surveillance but now I am confused about what to do.Can you please give me any ideas about what I could write about on surveillance in my local area? I reside in Lusaka, Zambia if that is of any help to you.
    Thank you!

    • Well, the primary research for the EE does not *necessarily* need to be interview / survey based, though a lot of students do it this way.

      Another way to perform the required elements of the EE is to provide detailed analysis and interpretation of the secondary sources you have available. The problem with this method is that many students simple repeat the contents of the secondary source ("describing" or "explaining", rather than analysing). Another difficulty is finding secondary research with sufficient detail (articles like those from the BBC may be a good start, but they often lack detailed coverage of topics).

      I hope this helps.

  11. Well, I suggest you do some more research into this topic first. I lot of these prosthetic technologies I have seen do not seem to involve IT, so it is worth finding some good examples before you start out.

  12. Hello Mr. Gray,
    I am currently doing my last IB year in school which means I am in IB2
    I am taking ITGS as a HL course since it interests me.
    For my EE topic I choose the topic "Monitoring Cameras in classrooms" Where these cameras will provide live feed to parents through the internet through a online website and also the cameras feeds will be kept as storage in the administration in the school for any incidents occurring.
    Do you have any suggestions on my topic? Please reply your feedback.

    • I would suggest you research the topic carefully to make sure an IT system is clearly involved here. Mere recording of images and later playback is probably not enough to count as an IT system.

  13. Greetings,
    I was just curious as to what "expert stakeholders" are. I looked at some example EEs and often the interviewees/people surveyed were stakeholders but not experts on the topic. If I'm doing my EE on education, do I need to interview/survey teachers/professors/students only? Or should I have experts such as members of the board of education?

    Secondly, is it appropriate to use APA citation style for an ITGS EE when APA does not support referencing interviews in the bibliography? (It does support in-text citations for interviews, though).

    • I think the key point is that stakeholders should clearly have the skills or expertise to answer the questions being asked (if the student is performing an interview, for example). For example, I have had students propose essays about violence in videogames where they suggest interviewing their friends and asking them if they think games cause violence. Those friends may well be stakeholders and games players, but what qualification do they have to make any assertion about the bigger picture of games and violence? Their answers, at best, are going to be hearsay and speculation. Now, those games players could answer precise and highly focused questions about themselves, but that is all. I think the key thing is to consider whether the subject is actually able to answer the question or whether they would be speculating.

      On the other point, any citation style is fine as long as it is applied consistently and correctly.

  14. Thanks for the useful information!
    I want to do my EE on the benefits and drawbacks/limitations of a particular e-learning tool. How can I avoid having my essay be just a 'summary' of secondary data? Obviously there will be primary research too but we are required to have some analysis in the essay, right?
    Are we allowed to write an essay where we weigh up if the pros outweigh the cons?

    Also are we allowed to use MLA citation for the ITGS EE? I saw that you said "any citation style is fine" but I was just a bit worried because MLA is not really used for social sciences.

    Thanks for your time

    • Yes, you definitely need analysis of the secondary and primary data in your essay, otherwise it will simply be descriptive. I suggest you look at the EE assessment criteria, especially criteria D, E, F, and H. These make it clear that you need a clear argument and need to apply analytical skills.

      You can use any recognised citation format for the EE.

  15. I am hoping to write my EE using the following research question: How has the rise of YouTube created a new medium for political campaigning, and what has been the effect of this new medium?
    However, I am not in the ITGS class and it is not offered at my school, so I am very uninformed on IT and the ITGS curriculum, and I am afraid that I will end up with an essay that is not appropriate for the subject of ITGS. Would this be an appropriate research topic? Also, is extensive use of ITGS terminology required in ITGS essays? Thank you so much for your help.

    • Although you are allowed to write an Extended Essay in a subject that you do not take, it is not generally recommended. This is especially true if your school does not offer the subject, as there may be no supervisor with the relevant expertise to assist you.

      To answer your question, yes, an EE needs to include clear understanding and appropriate use of both IT and ITGS terminology (the two are not the same).

  16. I am hoping to write my Extended Essay on either
    1) The CCTVs in school and how they effect the behaviour of student, i will be touching on both the positive and negative aspects.
    2) The role of wireless money transaction on the society in singapore's public transport division.
    With both, I can get loads of information and prove my points.What do you recommend ?

    • Nikhil,

      Traditionally CCTV camera systems do not really use any information processing technology: they merely capture and record. If this is all they do, they do not really fit into the ITGS definition of IT. I think your other topic has potential though.

      One thing to bear in mind "I can get loads of information and prove my points" suggests you already know the conclusion of your essay (or think you do). Having arguments is good (it is required in the rubric!), but remember to make sure you clearly balance your analysis.

  17. Hi,

    If I sent the exact same list of questions via email to different expert stakeholders, is that considered an series of interviews or a survey? Some of the questions are open-ended whereas others are close-ended. I'm planning on summarizing the results and using the summarized responses to support my points.


    • I don't know what it would be considered really – but does it matter what name we give it? To me the difference is that an interview is performed live while a survey is completed independently by the stakeholder. I would double-check that the expert stakeholders require the exact same questions – maybe some require extra questions or small changes? The advantage of an interview of course is that you can add or insert new questions if they say something particularly interesting in their responses.

  18. I want to do my ITGS EE on a topic relating to artificial intelligence. I’m currently considering the use of AI in the military (technologies more advanced than drones) or AI simulations (in sports or investment/stocks). Do you think these are viable topics. If so, what could be a possible research topic. If not, why and how can I refine it?

    Thank you

    • It sounds like it would be a good idea to research this general area a little bit more. You seem to have an idea of the general area (strand 2 of the ITGS triangle) and technology (strand 3).

      Can you find any research with specific examples (e.g. news articles) which raise any issues from strand 1? They would be a good starting point to help you narrow your topic and formulate a question.

  19. I am writting my EE about the impact of quantum computing in security. But my school does not have ITGS nor Computer science. My research question is

    ”Will the development in quantum computing threaten global encryption systems, or is it going to mark a new era in modern cryptography”
    I was thinking whether it is a valid question for ITGS or it is better for computer science and also I am thinking about how to conduct the data colection
    Can I analyze articles as you said earlier or I have to stakeholders?

    Thank you

    • I think you’d find it hard to find articles that discuss actual impacts of quantum computing, as the technology itself is still largely theoretical. With that in mind, it is hard to see how it falls into the category of ITGS.

  20. Hi!
    Im writting an essay about how Netflix in Perú have made an impact because of the high piracy of audiovisual content rate we have here in out country. My full topic is which are the effects of the Netflix platform in the illegal consumption of audiovisual contennt in the peruvian district of La Molina and Pueblo Libre. Could you please give me some advice? ThankYou 🙂

    • That sounds like an interesting topic. In El Salvador a few years ago Blockbuster video shut down, and one of the reasons they cited was rampant piracy. I’ve often wondered how NetFlix has managed in markets like that. I wonder – why have you chose those two specific areas of Peru?

  21. I’m well into my ITGS extended essay, which is about biometric services in India. I, however, live in Europe. Therefore, “PERFORMING primary research” is quite impossible. I am using interviews and will have quantitative data from other sources included.

    Has the chance of me getting A, by means of me not “PERFORMING primary research” therefore shrunk?

    Thank you

    • I advise performing primary research because I find that makes it easier for students to achieve the highest marks. However, there is no reason why you cannot perform analysis and evaluation on your secondary sources. You will need a wide range of sources to enable you to analyse them thoroughly though – and you will need to critically evaluate them too.

  22. Hi I’m working on an extended essay on ITGS, my topic is about The impacts of the use of Uber on the digital divide. It will help me a lot if you can recommend me some material about the subject. thanks

  23. Hey!
    I read your article and it seems pretty useful. A good guideline set for me to work. But i feel i’m stressing too much over my research question. There is an app in my country that works somewhat like uber except it’s for motorcycle riders (taxis) that require users to give their location and dropping point. I was thinking that my question could be somewhat in relation to security, and maybe privacy but i’m unable to generate a good question.
    Any feedback will be greatly appreciated =)

    • A good place to start is to do some background reading about your topic area. Why did you select privacy and security as your social and ethical issues? Do you have resources which suggest these are issues caused by this technology?

  24. Hello! Your article helped a lot and I was wondering if I could get some guidance on a topic I’m interested in. I think I’ll be doing something in the area of how cloud computing has helped businesses establish better customer relations. I’m having a hard time thinking of a research question, so would something like “To investigate how cloud computing can help businesses in establishing better customer relations.” Also, another topic that’s similar to this which I’m having a hard time deciding which I want to do is the idea of social media helping businesses increase visibility or helping with customer relations. My problem is 1. I’m not sure if I can get enough primary research done by my draft due date and 2. I’m not sure how specific I have to be with my research questions, as I’m concerned with whether or not I need to add specific locations (Ontario, Canada for where I reside and can perform primary research) or specify which type of businesses can be affected (Food? Service?) Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hi Andrew. It is probably a good idea to be more specific with your Research Question. Adding a particular location or even a particular type of business could help with that. For both of those questions I’d ask how you are going to measure “customer relations” and therefore determine whether they have improved or not.

  25. Hello thank you for the tips and i would like to ask whether my question is good as it is ‘What is the video game addiction of students in my school” but my ee supervisor said it was more of physiology ee while my itgs teacher said it was okay so what should i do as i want to do my ee based on video games as it is a passion for me

    • I suppose the key question is what you are focusing on. Your current question needs refining because at the moment it assumes that the students at your school have an addiction to video games – which might not be true. Addiction is also a strong word and I am sure there is a medical / psychological definition of that – so I see your Psychology teacher’s point. But maybe what you are really trying to measure is the extent that students at your school use video games, and the impact that has on them? In that case, impacts are clearly what ITGS is about.

  26. Hi,

    I am doing my EE on ITGS, deadline is soon, so please i need your response in the nearest future. i don’t really study itgs so will i be able to achieve a good grade?
    and what are the elements for a good essay that gets high marks?


    • If you don’t study a subject, can you achieve a good grade? I’d say probably not. The mere act of writing 4000 words on a subject suggests a requirement to have studied at least something about it. It sounds like you really need to talk to your EE supervisor or IB Coordinator, and also read the Extended Essay guide (which has the marking criteria).

  27. i already started my project, it is about RFID technology in education, my research question is, to what extent will the my country schools and universities benefit from monitoring their students success?
    in my country attendance is a problem and it is also still done manually, i will study the effect of introducing RFID considering ethical and privacy concerns with price and cost fro providing technology,
    do i still need to change my topic? and go for a thing i study, please be clear with me and thank you very much

    • sorry my research question is

      to what extent will the my countries schools and unis benefit from RFID technologies in monitoring the success of students?

      • Your EE supervisor should be able to advise you on these questions after they have looked at your notes, research, and / or initial drafts. In fact three formal meetings with the supervisor is now a mandatory part of the EE process.

  28. Hello!
    I want to write an essay about the benefits and risks of medical scanners to patients in local hospitals. I do have primary source. Can you help me and give some advise? Isn’t it to broad? Is it good topic?
    P.S. I want to talk with you a little bit about my research question (that is in secret) via email (so we will keep the privacy:)). Can you write me ( ), then I will write you back.

    • Abba,

      My initial thoughts would be: can you ensure you will be talking about information technology (with the focus on information) rather than any other form of technology?

      If you want to talk about your RQ in private, it would be better to speak to your ITGS teacher.


  29. Hi!
    Can i write my EE in ITGS on the social credit system? The only aspect i can´t check of in the list is number four: “Are you able to find expert stakeholders to perform primary research?”. I don´t live in china, or any other country using similair methods, so could I get any primary research from my community by serveys and stuff do you think?

    • I’m sorry, I’ve only just noticed this comment. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by the “social credit system” and therefore I’m not clear whether this is an IT system or not.

  30. Hi,

    I am planning on doing my EE in ITGS on the impact of virtual reality on the training of medical students in a particular university in my country. I have found the appropriate sources, but I would like you to give me some factors that I could consider as I am having a problem finding that for eg. economic factors. Also could you tell me the format of the EE and what should be included in every section.


    • If you have primary sources (which is always a good idea) then a quick informal chat with them should be enough to highlight some key factors to consider. Asking key questions like why they decided to introduce this technology will highlight these for you.

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