How to Work on Your IB History IA Section 1

December 21, 2022

ib history ia section 1

In Section 1 of your IB History IA, you will evaluate two important sources utilized for your inquiry. Either primary or secondary sources are acceptable.

This part requires that you:

  • Clearly outline the research question you have chosen and state it in the form of a question. 
  • Include a brief description of the two sources you’ve chosen for in-depth research, as well as an explanation of their significance to the inquiry.
  • Investigate two sources in depth. Analyze the usefulness and limits of the two sources in light of their origins, purposes, and contents in relation to the research.

Keep in mind that the recommended word count for Section 1 of your History IA is 500 words. And the assignment accounts for 6 out of the possible 25 marks.

The formulation of a suitable research topic is a critical component of this phase of the internal evaluation.

The six fundamental ideas of the history course (causation, consequence, continuity, change, importance, and viewpoints) might help you create a question.

History IA Section 1 Assessment Criteria

0The work does not meet the criteria given in the grading rubric.
1 – 2The investigational question has been included. The student has found and chosen relevant sources, but there is little or no discussion of the materials’ significance to the inquiry.Student included and described the two of the sources, but neither analyzed nor evaluated
3 – 4The student has included a question worthy of examination.The student has found and selected relevant sources, and has provided some justification for their relevance to the inquiry.There is some study and review of two sources, but there is minimal discussion of their worth and limits.
5 – 6  A suitable research question appears on the paper. The student has found and selected appropriate and relevant sources, and the relation of those sources to the inquiry is clearly articulated.There is a comprehensive examination and assessment of two sources, including an explicit discussion of the merits and limits of two of the sources for the research, with reference to the origins, purposes, and contents of the two sources.

Components of History IA Assessment Criteria

The following are the components of a good IB History IA Section 1 paper:

1. A Clear Formulation of a Research Question

You must ensure that the question you have posed is succinct, clear, and debatable. .

In the first paragraph of Section 1, present the backdrop of your study before stating your research question in its entire form and making it prominent.

2. Identify Sources and Justify their Significance

You must choose two to analyze from the sources you’re employing for your inquiry.

While making this choice, you guarantee that the selected sources differ in at least one way.

  • For instance, you would not assess two photographs with comparable restrictions and applications.
  • Similarly, evaluating two Marxist historical viewpoints would be less successful than evaluating one Marxist and one Revisionist perspective, or a contemporary source and a cross-referenced source published years after the event.

The selection of relevant sources is crucial for scoring well on this criterion.

You will also need to ensure that you explain the significance of each chosen source to your inquiry in no more than one or two phrases. For instance, if you use propaganda as one of your sources, you MUST explain how it contributes to your inquiry.

3. Analyze and Evaluation the Two Sources

The assumption is that, for each source, you would include a single, clearly defined paragraph that describes the document’s origin, purpose, value, and limits, while referencing its content or message.

You must mention each source individually and designating it as a subheading or italicizing it is highly suggested. 

History IA Section 1 Requirements

The following are the requirements for the History IA Section 1 assignment:

1. Identify Your Sources

You must identify the source of the papers.

Include the name(s) of the author(s) and a brief description of the source’s provenance, including the context in which the source was developed and the author’s experience, skill, or engagement.

Be descriptive and utilize the term “origin” as plainly as possible; you may like to make it bold.

2. Investigate the Purpose of Your Sources

  • Why did it exist?
  • What is its intended function?

A newspaper article, for instance, is for the broad public and aims to convey a perspective on an event or series of events. A table of statistics is to provide a collection of facts pertaining to a certain topic.

Be descriptive and utilize the term “purpose” as plainly as possible. You may like to make it bold.

3. Examine the Substance and Significance of the Sources

As this is a new component of the IB History program, it is imperative that you examine the substance of the source.

Therefore, you must offer an overview or summary of the source’s message. Be descriptive and attempt to utilize the term “content” in a clear manner.

You must additionally describe the significance of your chosen sources. In other words, you will need to evaluate the document’s use for historians in general in a clear and unambiguous manner.

For instance, the value of a newspaper story is that it provides either the reporter’s or the paper’s perspective. This would provide insight into how various segments of society regarded the aforementioned events. A statistical table gives detailed data that may shed light on the feature the data portrays.

4. Evaluate the Limits of the Selected Sources 

The last requirement for Section 1 is to assess the limits of the selected sources. Therefore, you must state clearly and explicitly the flaws with these sources that undermine their potential to give credible support for the provided argument.

Consider the example of a newspaper.

It is likely to reflect an editorial slant, and because readers buy newspapers, economic considerations may affect its worth.

Similarly, statistical data can be politically motivated or manipulated. And that can affect its usefulness. A political poll conducted in a working-class neighborhood is more likely to reflect support for parties that advocate for their rights, but may not be representative of the entire population.

How to Choose Your Sources

One of the problems of this part is selecting two sources from your research that specifically address the criteria.

The keywords are “the student has found and chosen relevant and acceptable sources.”

One method to evaluate this is to consider the two sources you have consulted the most during your research.

You may have depended on these two sources because they helped you comprehend the issue in question. It may be prudent to investigate only one of these sources and hunt for a more suitable source that provides a contrast.

Consider whether two sources are crucial to the argument of your topic or that add the most to the discussion. This begins to address the relevant portion of the criteria.

Some sample replies showed that main and secondary sources demonstrate variations in viewpoints regarding the issue under investigation. This might be useful when discussing the importance and limits of the investigation’s sources.

Before deciding on the two sources that will feature in the assignment, it may be prudent to investigate many others.

Final Thoughts

The IB History IA Section 1 doesn’t have to be difficult to put together. Here’s a summary checklist to guide you through the process: 

  • Ensure you have chosen a relevant issue that you can address within the word limit of 2200.
  • You should write your question in a clear manner, preferably in verbatim.
  • Ensure you search for and select suitable and pertinent sources for analysis.
  • Clearly articulate how these two sources relate to your inquiry.

And lastly, ensure you’ve provided a comprehensive study and evaluation of two sources, including a clear explanation of the usefulness and limits of two of the sources for the inquiry, with regard to the origins, purpose, and content of the two sources.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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