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IB Internal Assessment: Historical

Your Historical Investigation will account for 20% (Higher Level) of your ultimate IB
score in History. Further, timely accomplishment of assignments related to your
Internal Assessment (Historical Investigation) is a critical component of continuation
in the full diploma program- without the paper you cannot earn it) Also, this research
paper will count as your final exam grade in Semester 2 while all components along
the way will be worth significant points. Therefore, completion of this paper is
required to pass this class Semester 2. This is a 1500-2000 word research paper
which addresses a question of historical significance on some specific aspect History.
It may not be on a topic in the same category as your extended essay.
The Topic: Examples of the types of investigations students may undertake are:

A historical topic or theme using written sources or a variety of sources

A historical topic based on fieldwork, for example, a museum, battlefields, places of
worship, such as mosques or churches, historic buildings

A local history study

A historical study based on oral interviews

A historical investigation of cultural issues

Your Choice of Topic:

For this investigation, you may select a topic which deals with any of the following topics we
have studied or will study in IB History during IB History of the Americas (United States,
Canada, Latin America). They include:

The Great Depression

o Political Causes of the Great Depression
o Economic Causes of the Great Depression
o The Stock Market Crash
o Hoover v. FDR- nature and efficacy of solutions

o The New Deal

o Critics of the New Deal
o Canadas Great Depression
o Bennett v. King
o Vargas and ISI
o Impact of the Great Depression on Society: African Americans, Mexicans,
o The Great Depression and the arts in the US- radio, artwork, murals, songs,
film, comics

o Causes, Consequences, Major Players
o Major Battles
o Impact of technological developments and the beginning of the atomic ageDecision to drop Atomic Bomb
o US reactions to events in Europe, inter-American Diplomacy, cooperation,
neutrality, isolationism
o Social Impact of Second World War on: African Americans, Native Americans,
women, other minoritiesconscription
o FDRs Good Neighbor Policy, its application and effects
o Treatment of Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians during Internment
o Economic and diplomatic effects of WWII in the US

The Cold War

o Yalta and Potsdam Conferences
o Truman: containment and its implications for the Americas
o The Rise of McCarthyism and its effects on foreign policies of the US

o Cold War and its impact on Society and culture

o The Korean War- reasons for participation, military developments, diplomatic
and political outcomes
o US involvement in Vietnam: nature and involvement at different stages,
domestic effects and the end of war.
o US foreign Policies from Kennedy to Carter: Kennedys Alliance for Progress,
Nixons covert operations in Chile, Carters quest for human rights and the
Panama Canal Treaty
o Cold war in Cuba: reasons for foreign and domestic policies and their
After preliminary research, you will need to narrow your focus for study. Consult your
textbooks, the Internet, encyclopedias or other materials for possible topics. Note: IB students
should consider selecting a topic that will be on the IB exam, hence choosing a topic from our
classes. All topics must be approved prior to writing the paper.
1. Look through your notes. Look through our books and any power points weve done. Is there
a topic there you would like to learn more about? Are there questions you still have that you
could research to find the answer to?
2. You want your historical question to be focused and clear. Choosing too general of a topic will
result in a low scoring grade.
Bad Idea to choose something like: The Causes of WWII, Hitler and the Nazi Party, The

Instead Choose A Question of Controversy

A. MUST have at least two sides (ex. to what extent) to allow you to include differing
B. It is only controversial if historians disagree as to the answer
1. Avoid questions that lend themselves to a descriptive answer (upon which historians
would agree) such as the causes of the Cold War, Hitlers reasons for the Final
Solution, etc. Focus upon the issues that historians debate, such as which is more
important, the main causes, to what extent someones reasons for doing something
were justifiable, whether one person is more blameworthy or praiseworthy for
something than another person, etc.

C. Example: Despite the arguments that FDRs policies were more effective in addressing
the causes of the Great Depression, would a continuation of Hoovers policies have led
to a quicker recovery than FDRs?
D. Example: To what extent was Trumans decision to drop the atomic bomb justifiable?
E. Example: To what extent were the Moscow Olympic Games of 1980 affected by Cold
War tensions?
The Assignment:
Please note: The format of the independent investigations is not a traditional "essay". Instead, you
will need to divide your paper into the following components, with a separate heading for each (you
will be able to see some sample papers with the proper format).



Recommended word count: 100-150

Point value: 2/20 marks
Introduces the subject of the
investigation, which should be sharply
focused; may be stated as a question
Includes the methods to be used in the
investigation a clearly structured plan
Identifies the aims of your research (why
you are investigating this subject)


When stating your research question, be sure

to address why your topic is interesting, or
how you came to choose your topic.
As for the scope of your investigation, include
the sources you plan to use and the issues you
will examine in order to address your research
Make sure that your subject can be treated in
In order to come up with a good question or thesis,
you must do some pre-research. Pick a topic,
research it, come up with a basic question, read
some more about it, refine your question, write
some of your paper, and then tweak the question a
bit more. The question should be specific, focused,
detailed and targeted. The more specific, the



Recommended word count: 500-600

Point value: 5/20 marks
Provides a description of events that are
relevant to your research and that will
help you address your research question
Indicates what you have learned from
the sources used
Is organized, referenced, and provides
evidence of thorough research
Any illustrations, documents, or other
relevant evidence should be included in
an appendix and will not be included in
the word count


You must link your overview of evidence to

your research question.
The goal is NOT to include every piece of
information, but only salient pieces of
information. Present ONLY information that
will help you answer your research question;
do not waste words providing lengthy
background information.
Your summary must be brief, concise, and
written with clarity; do not address the section
to a teacher as the reader.
Use plenty of footnotes in this section using
background sources, not just the two books
you are analyzing for Section C.
Prove you did the research! Prove you looked
through a variety of sources. Prove you didnt just
sit at the computer and search the internet! Prove
you were thorough! Make sure you cite all your
sources. Be careful, only use something in your
investigation if it is meaningful and provides
evidence to help answer your question. Just using
a laundry list of lots of facts and figures and
quotes from lots of books or websites doesnt help.
More is not better. I would suggest primary AND
secondary sources for your research. Summarize,
Summarize, Summarize.
Do not include your analysis of the sources, and
dont actually answer the thesis in this section.
You will do this later. It is just an organized
summary of the facts you found from the sources
you discovered in your research.
Be careful- any information you use anywhere else
in the paper must be presented in this section. You
cant pull out new information and use it in your
conclusion if it does not also appear in your

summary of evidence!! All information you

summarize should help prove what your
conclusion is.



Recommended word count: 250-400

Point value: 4/20 marks
Provides a critical evaluation of two
important sources appropriate to the
investigation; assesses the usefulness of
the sources
Refers to the origin, purpose, values,
and limitation of each source:
o ORIGIN: Who (or what)
produced this document?
o PURPOSE: Why was this
document produced? What is the
author trying to accomplish?
What is the authors
o VALUE: What makes this
document useful to you, or to
anyone interested in the topic?
o LIMITATIONS: What about this
document needs to be
questioned? Why would someone
use caution when looking at this
document for evidence and



need not be lengthy, simply explain what was
produced and why.
o ORIGINS: You must provide the
academic credentials of the author; if
you cannot find anything on the author
in the book, search the Net. If you still
cannot find information on your
author, SAY SO. It is not necessary to
put in every academic post or
professorship the authors have held.
o PURPOSES: The best authors will
typically express purpose in the
preface/introduction/first chapter. You
may have to search for the purpose.
NOTE: even narratives have a purpose.
If you cannot locate a clearly articulated
purpose, you may use language such as:
It appears that the authors purpose
may not be balanced. One side of the
argument may be more substantive than the
o VALUE: Explain why this source is
valuable in general, and address why it
is particularly important to your
research. Make specific references to
the text and its sources; use quotes. You

may comment on footnotes of the book,

what kinds of sources the author used,
o LIMITATIONS: Again, you must be
specific, providing examples from the
text, quotes, etc. Limitations could
include a critique of sources; a critique
of whether or not the coverage is too
broad to meet the authors objectives; if
the author is using out of date
scholarship, relying on only newspaper
articles, etc. Why might a historian
need to show some degree of caution
using this source?
A few words on using BIAS to assess VALUES
AND LIMITATIONS: Remember that all
sources are biased, none are completely
objective. You need to provide a nuanced
interpretation of bias. Explain WHY the
source is biased, and how this bias affects your
research. If you assert a degree of objectivity,
be specific: Does the author present a
balanced perspective by providing multiple
points of view? Does the author present
statistical data that is difficult to manipulate?
Keep in mind that NO SOURCES ARE
COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE, even statistical
data can be massaged to make a point.
Note: The purpose of this section is to assess
the usefulness of the sources; NOT to describe
their content or nature. (you already
described their content in Section B)
You do not have to compare the two sources!
Think of it as a paragraph of OPVL for one
source and a paragraph for another source.
This section should earn you easy marks.



Recommended word count: 500-650

Point value: 5/20 marks
Addresses the importance of the
investigation in its historical context,
this adds weight and perspective to the
Analyzes the evidence presented in
Section B
Includes analysis of different


This is where you examine different historical

interpretations of your research topic in
analyzing the historical event itself.
QUESTION OR TOPIC. This is true for the
entire paper. There should be a thread running
through the entire paper connecting all
sections back to the research question.
That said, you must integrate an analysis of
the authors arguments into this section.
Analyze the authors conclusions in reference
to your research question.
This is the substance of the paper. These are
your thoughts about the subject. This is your
analysis of the sources, your findings, your
ideas. You may want to present differing
interpretations of the answer to your research
Whatever you do, you should try to place it in
historical context. This will add weight and
perspective to your study. What else was
going on at the time?
You are elaborating on and analyzing what you
wrote about in section B. The elements you
identified in section B will now be broken
down into key issues or points.


Recommended word count: 150-200


Your conclusion should answer your research

Point value: 2/20 marks

Must be clearly stated and consistent
with the evidence presented
As a follow-up to section D, requires an
answer or conclusion to the original
research question
Provides conclusions in a narrow and
focused manner

question in a clear and focused manner. This

may be fairly brief one paragraph will suffice
if you addressed conclusions in the analysis
section or, as is often the case when
examining historical interpretations, it may be
a bit longer.
Include your final judgment on the two books.
Are the sources equally valuable for further
research? Articulate the reasons for your final
evaluation of the books.
You should not include any new information
not already presented earlier in your paper!!!



Not counted in word count

Point value: 2/20 marks
Includes a bibliography or list of sources
Must use a recognized citation system
Written sources should be listed
separately from non-written sources
If your historical investigation is not
between 1500 and 2000 words, you will
receive no credit in this section.


The source list, generic headings, (e.g., Part

A), and references do not count toward the
word count. Everything else does. Your IA
must be between 1500-2000 worlds. If the
essay is UNDER or OVER the word count
parameter, you receive NO POINTS in this
You must list all sources consulted. You must
separate primary from secondary sources if
appropriate, as well as electronic vs. print
Your bibliography must follow a standard
citation format, as should all footnotes in the
body of the paper. NO PARANTHTICALS. We
hate them. Footnotes are easiest to use
throughout, and are easy to reference by the
reader. Endnotes are acceptable. Dont forget
that explanatory footnotes are an excellent
way for you to express ideas without being
penalized in the word count.
Please, no references to Wikipedia, Encarta,

WorldBook, Groliers, Facts on File, or other

non-scholarly encyclopedias.
You should not use an internet source if it does
not have a credible author. If someone is not
willing to put their name on it, then its
probably not credible!
Please include the word count at the bottom of
the last section.
No cover page or table of contents is needed,
but in five lines at the top right-hand corner of
the first page, please put your name, History
HL: Europe, the date, your teachers name,
and the words Internal Assessment.
No good paper can be written without
referencing and researching at least 7 sources.
Of these, only two should be internet! The Citation
Machine is a useful tool for correctly citing

Internal Assessment Grading Criteria

Historical Investigations: HL

Spring 2013
Criterion A
Criterion B
Criterion C
Criterion D
Criterion E
Criterion F



Plan of
Summary of
Evaluation of
Sources and Word

3 marks
6 marks
5 marks
6 marks
2 marks
3 marks
25 marks

Plan of Investigation
Level Descriptor
There is no plan of investigation, or it is inappropriate.
The research question, method and scope of the investigation
are not clearly stated.
The research question is clearly stated. The method and scope
of the investigation are outlined and related to the research
question. `
The research question is clearly stated. The method and scope
of the investigation are fully developed and closely focused on
the research question.
Summary of Evidence
Level Descriptor
There is no relevant factual material.
There is some relevant factual material but it has not been
There is relevant factual material that shows evidence of
research, organization and referencing.
The factual material is all relevant to the investigation and it
has been well researched, organized and correctly referenced.
Evaluation of Sources
Level Descriptor






There is no description or evaluation of the sources.

The sources are described but there is no reference to their
origin, purpose, value and limitation.
There is some evaluation of the sources but reference to their
origin, purpose, value and limitation may be limited.
There is evaluation of the sources and explicit reference to
their origin, purpose, value and limitation.
Level Descriptor
There is no analysis.
There is some attempt at analyzing the evidence presented in
Section B
There is analysis of the evidence presented in section B and
references are included. There may be some awareness of the
significance to the investigation of the sources evaluated in
section C. Where appropriate, different interpretations are
There is critical analysis of the evidence presented in section
B, accurate referencing, and an awareness of the significance
to the investigation of the sources evaluated in section C.
Where appropriate, different interpretations are analyzed.
Level Descriptor
There is no conclusion, or the conclusion is not relevant.
The conclusion is stated but is not entirely consistent with the
evidence presented.
The conclusion is clearly stated and consistent with the
evidence presented.
Sources and Word Limit
Level Descriptor
A list of sources is not included or the investigation is not
within the word limit.
A list of sources is included but these are limited or one


standard method is not used consistently or the word count is

not clearly and accurately stated on the title page.
A list of sources using one standard method is included and
the investigation is within the word limit.
An appropriate list of sources, using one standard method, is
included. The investigation is within the word limit.

1. Focused Research Question that is a question of controversy.

2. Thesis Statement: This is your research question, but without the
question mark.
Example: The aim of my investigation is to find out
3. How will you answer your question? Make a list, like the example
below of the types of information you will need in order to answer your
Example Question: Despite the arguments that FDRs policies were more
effective in addressing the causes of the Great Depression, would a
continuation of Hoovers policies have led to a quicker recovery than
To answer this question I will need to:
a. Identify the causes of the Great Depression
b. Examine the policies of Hoover and FDR and their effects
c. Evaluate whether a continuation of Hoovers policies would
have been more effective than FDRs
d. Consider arguments for and against
4. Sources
Evaluate what types of primary sources will be of value in your
investigation and make a list
a. People involved in the events and things they said (why would
you want this information? How would it help you to answer your
b. Government data

c. Expert opinions (Historians)

d. Look for sources from a variety of viewpoints that might give
you a variety of opinions as to the answer to your question (differing
i. If studying FDR and Hoover, you might look for both liberal
and conservative historians, both democrat and republican
ii. If studying the Cold war, US Historians, Russian historians,

Plan of Investigation

Plan of Investigation, about 100-150 words, including:

1- the subject of the investigation narrowed down quite
specifically to a clearly focused question.
2- the methods you will use in your investigation: explain what
exactly you will be looking for in your search, and what
resources (and types of resources) you will use.
3- the Scope: your plan must include your thesis, and you need
to explain why your topic is important, why it deserves
research, and why you are narrowing your focus to specific

To Write your plan of investigation. It must include

Your Question
Break your question down into its component parts that you will need to
answer it
What kinds of sources will be of value in giving the information you need
to answer the component parts, and why they would have that value?
In addition, it should probably start out with some sort of historical
context for your question, explaining why you came up with the question

& why it is important to historians (this context is the first few sentences
in the Plan of Investigation below)
Example 1
When Herbert Hoover was faced with the onset of the Great
Depression in 1929, his response was tepid, as he believed that too
much government action would interfere with free market forces and
just make the economy worse. Hoover was widely blamed for doing
nothing, leading to Franklin D. Roosevelts election in 1932 and his much
more energetic New Deal policies. Many free market economists still
question whether Hoovers policies were not a better long-term response
than those of Roosevelt. This investigation will answer the question:
would a continuation of Herbert Hoovers policies have led to a more
rapid recovery from the Great Depression than the policies of Franklin
Roosevelt? To answer this question the investigation will first examine
the causes of the Great Depression. The policies of both Hoover and
Roosevelt will then be addressed and the economic effects of their
policies evaluated. Finally, the interpretations of various historians and
economists will be evaluated, including both Keynesian and free market
perspectives, in order to answer the question.
(169 words)
Example 2
For much of the 19th century, Argentine politicians encouraged
foreign investment in Argentina thinking that this would lead to
economic growth for Argentina and progress. By the first half of the
twentieth century, Argentine Nacionalistas were increasingly rejecting
this contention, arguing instead that foreigners were exploiting
Argentines, and Argentina could only see true economic progress if it
achieved economic independence. Juan Perns economic policy initially
reflected this strain of economic nationalism, and Nacionalista support is
often credited with helping Pern to gain and maintain power in
Argentina. The objective of this investigation is to see if this contention
is accurate: to what degree did the economic policies of Juan Pern
contribute to his maintenance of power in Argentina from 1946-1955?
The writings of Pern and his economic ministers will be consulted in
order to determine Perns economic policies and the aims of those
policies. Economic figures, such as those available from the Argentine
Bureau of Statistics, will be used to evaluate the success of Perns
policies, but in order to judge whether they helped to maintain him in
power the opinion of those responsible for keeping him in power will
need to be investigated. I will research the writings of various
representative interest groups in order to gauge their satisfaction with

Perns policies, such as ally and rival politicians, including Nacionalistas,

military leaders, and union leaders. This data will be considered in
conjunction with the analysis of Argentinian, British, and US experts in
the field of Argentine history and Pern in order to evaluate whether
Perns economic policies contributed to his maintenance of power or
instead contributed to his fall from power in 1955.
(275 words)