Ib History Ia Source Evaluation Essay

Introduction to the Historical Investigation

The internal assessment (IA) in IB History (first examination 2017) is an integral part of your History course and is compulsory for both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL) students. You will demonstrate skills and knowledge, and you can follow your personal interests, without the time limitations and other constraints that are associated with written exams.

What is the IB History IA

How to use this website.

  • You should read all the information on this site as well as the IA section of the IB History Guide. The History IA is a technical piece of writing and you can do well if you follow instructions diligently and work hard.
  • Hover over the menu options at the top, there are several tabs per section.
  • The information on this site has been written for students of IB History. It has been created by a group of experienced IB History teachers who participated in an IB History IA workshop in Melbourne, June 2016. 
  • Your teacher is your ultimate guide and the ultimate arbiter of what you have to do and how to do it. If anything is unclear, speak to your teacher. 

Key Points about the IB History IA

  • Requirements for SL and HL students are the same.
  • You can chose your own topic, follow your own interests. The topic of your IA does not have to be related to the school's syllabus.
  • The topic must be historical, and therefore cannot be on an event that has happened in the last 10 years.
  • The IA is important to your overall success in IB History. It is worth 25% of the final assessment for SL students, and 20% for HL students.
  • The historical investigation will be internally assessed by your teacher and externally moderated by the IB.
  • The investigation must be a written piece and should be done individually, group work is not permitted.
  • The word limit for the historical investigation is 2,200 words. 

Guidance and authenticity

The historical investigation submitted for internal assessment must be the your own work. You must discuss the internally assessed work with your teacher.
As part of the learning process, your teacher will read and give advice on onedraft of the work. You must confirm that the work is your own authentic work and constitutes the final version of that work. Once you have officially submitted the final version of the work, it cannot be retracted.
​The requirement to confirm the authenticity of work applies to the work of all students, not just the sample work that will be submitted to the IB for the purpose of moderation. For further details, refer to the IB publication Academic honesty in the IB educational context.  

Section 1: Identification and evaluation of sources

(SourceIn Section 1, you will analyse two key sources used in your investigation. The sources can be either primary or secondary sources. In this section you must: 
  • clearly state the question you have chosen to investigate (this must be stated as a question)
  • include a brief explanation of the nature of the two sources you have selected for detailed analysis, including an explanation of their relevance to the investigation
  • analyse two sources in detail. With reference to the origins, purpose and content, you should analyse the value and limitations of the two sources in relation to the investigation.
  • Recommended word allocation: 500 words.
  • Maximum amount of marks that can be awarded: 6 out of 25 total marks. 

 A crucial element of this section of the internal assessment task is formulating an appropriate question to investigate. The six key concepts for the history course (causation, consequence, continuity, change, significance and perspectives) can be a useful starting point in helping you to formulate a question. (Source, IB History Guide, p84)

Assessment Criteria for Section 1

0: The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 -2
  • The question for investigation has been stated.
  • The student has identified and selected appropriate sources, but there is little or no explanation of the relevance of the sources to the investigation.
  • The response describes, but does not analyse or evaluate, two of the sources.
3 - 4
  • An appropriate question for investigation has been stated.
  • The student has identified and selected appropriate sources, and there is some explanation of the relevance of the sources to the investigation.
  •  There is some analysis and evaluation of two sources, but reference to their value and limitations is limited.
5 - 6
  • An appropriate question for investigation has been clearly stated.
  • The student has identified and selected appropriate and relevant sources, and there is a clear explanation of the relevance of the sources to the investigation.
  • There is a detailed analysis and evaluation of two sources with explicit discussion of the value and limitations of two of the sources for the investigation, with reference to the origins, purpose and content of the two sources. 
This is a checklist for a successful Section 1, based on the assessment criteria.
  1. You have selected an appropriate question which can be dealt with within the 2200 word limit.
  2. You have stated your question clearly. (Verbatim is best) 
  3. You have identified and selected appropriate and relevant sources to analyse.
  4. You have clearly explained the relevance of these two sources to your investigation.
  5. You have included a detailed analysis and evaluation of two sources with explicit discussion of the value and limitations of two of the sources for the investigation, with reference to the origins, purpose and content of the two sources.

​Breakdown of the key components of the assessment criteria

"Clear statement of an appropriate question for the investigation"
  • You must ensure that the question you have generated is clear, concise and is contestable (see the section on generating a research question).
  • In the first paragraph of your Section 1, you need to provide the context of your investigation, and then directly state your research question, in its full form, and make it stand out.

"Identification of sources, and explanation of the relevance of the sources to the investigation."
  • From the sources you are using for your investigation, you will need to select two to evaluate.
  • It is advisable that when making this selection, you ensure there is at least one point of difference between the selected sources. For example, you would not select two photos to evaluate,as their limitations and uses may be similar. Likewise, choosing to evaluate two Marxist historical perspectives would not be as effective as one Marxist and one Revisionist viewpoint, or a contemporary source and a cross - referenced source written some years after the event. Selection of the appropriate sources is critical to scoring well against this criterion. See the advice below for further guidance.
  • You will also need to ensure that you are providing, in 1 or 2 sentences only, an explanation of the relevance of each chosen source to your investigation. For example, if you select a piece of propaganda as one of your sources, you MUST explain how that source plays a part in your investigation. What does it provide that adds to your argument?
"Analysis and evaluation of two sources with discussion of the value and limitations of them, with reference to the origins, purpose and content."
  • The expectation is that, for each source, you provide a distinct, clearly identified paragraph, that identifies the origin, purpose, value and limitations of that particular document, while making references to the content or message of the source.
  • Each source will need to be addressed separately, and identifying it specifically as a subheading or italicising it is recommended.
  • This element is exactly the same as the requirements for the OPCVL question in Paper 1, so the skills required are transferable. Click here for a summary of generic OPVLs.  
  • Here is a template with generic OPCVL questions.

You will need to clearly and specifically identify the origin of the documents. State the name of the author(s), and also it is recommended that you outline the provenance, by exploring the context within which the source was created and looking at the background and expertise or involvement of the author. Be specific, and try to use the word ‘origin’ clearly - you may wish to make it bold print.

Another requirement is that you explore the purpose of the sources.
Why was it created? What is it designed to do? So, for example, a newspaper article is written for the general public, and its purpose is to provide a perspective regarding an event or set of events. A table of statistics is designed to present a set of data regarding a certain topic. Be specific, and try to use the word ‘purpose’ clearly - you may wish to make it bold print.

It is important that you address the content of the source, as this is a new element of the IB History programme. So, you will need to provide an overview or summary of the message of the source. Be specific, and try to use the word ‘content’ clearly - you may wish to make it bold print.

You will also need to discuss the value of your selected sources. In other words, you will need to clearly and explicitly evaluate the usefulness of the selected document for historians in general. For example, a newspaper article has the value of providing the perspective of either the reporter, or the paper they were writing for. This would give some insight into how sections of society viewed the events being described. A table of statistics provides specific data that may provide an insight into the aspect the data reflects. Be specific, and ensure you use the word ‘value’ clearly - you may wish to make it bold print.

The final expectation for Section 1 is to evaluate the limitations of your chosen documents. So, you must clearly and specifically outline the issues about these sources that weaken their ability to provide credible support for the debate being presented. If you look at the example of a newspaper again, they are likely to reflect an editorial bias, and, as newspapers are designed to be sold to readers, there is an economic imperative that may influence its value. Likewise, statistical data can be politically motivated, which influences it usefulness, and also can be manipulated - a political poll taken in a working class area is more likely to reflect support for parties that champion their rights, and may not be representative of the entire population.

Advice on choosing sources

One of the challenges of this section is to choose two sources from your investigation which target the criterion. The keywords are 'the student has identified and selected appropriate and relevant sources'. 
  • One way to think about this is to consider which two sources you have used most in your investigation. However, you may have relied on these two sources just because they helped you understand the topic best. These two sources may be quite similar in what they offered and thus you may be wise to consider just one of these and search for a more appropriate contrasting source.
  • Another way is to consider which two sources are central to the contention of your question, or that contribute most to the debate. This begins to target the appropriate part of the criterion.
  • Some sample responses indicated that a primary and secondary source are chosen in order to highlight differences in perspective on the topic. This can be helpful when you go to discuss the value and limitations of the sources for the investigation.
  • It might be wise to evaluate a few of your sources before you settle on the two that will appear in this section.
  • Much of your choice will hinge on the question you have chosen...remember to aim for a relatively narrow scope to your question.

Examples of Section 1s

Below are two sample Section 1s which achieved good scores. Your teacher will be able to provide you with the grade and feedback given by the IB (See Teacher Support Material on the OCC).
Sample A:
To what extent did World War II lead to women in  United States becoming permanent participants of the labor force?
 
Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of sources

This investigation will explore the question: To what extent did World War II lead to women in the United States becoming permanent participants of the labollr force? The years 1940 to 1950 will be the focus of this investigation, to allow for an analysis of women’s employment during the war, as well as its evolution in the post-war period.

The first source which will be evaluated in depth is Julia Kirk Blackwelder’s book “The Feminization of Work in the United States, 1900-1995”, written in 1997. The origin of this source is valuable because Blackwelder is a professor of history at Texas University, specializing in Modern US and American women’s history, and has written extensively on women’s employment in scholarly journals and books, indicating that she is knowledgeable on this topic. Furthermore, the date of the publication of this source, 1997, strengthens its value, as it indicates that Blackwelder, benefitting from hindsight, has been able to analyze a comprehensive range of sources, including government documents, interviews and statistics. However, the origin of the source is limited in that Blackwelder is not a professional expert in economics, with which this topic is closely related and, consequently, might have misinterpreted some of the economic data presented.
The purpose of Blackwelder’s book is to analyze the trends of American women’s employment in the 1900-1955 period, and “to let evidence speak for itself” (Blackwelder xiii). This is valuable, for it indicates that an extended period of time has been examined, permitting for connections to be made between the trends discovered. However, the fact that the author has covered nearly a century of  economic  developments  limits  its  value  to  a  historian  studying  economic developments within a short time period.

The second source evaluated in depth is Mary Anderson’s 1944 address American Economic Association “The Postwar role of American women”, which was delivered in March, 1944. The origin of this source is valuable because the address was delivered by the head of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, and therefore provides an insight into the views of a well-known figure regarding women’s employment and post-war plans. Additionally, the date of delivery of the address, 1944, indicates that the source allows for a valuable understanding of contemporary views on women’s employment. However, this date is also a limitation, for it suggests that the source, having been written before the completion of the war, is likely to fail to analyze extensive research on women’s employment. In terms of origin, the source is also limited in that Anderson was herself a former factory worker and was “ particularly well attuned to the thinking of female employees” (Weatherford 256), indicating that she might have tended to shape the address according to her views, and, consequently, may have provided a slightly subjective insight into government plans.
The purpose of this source is to underscore the importance of the adoption of measures to secure the position of women in the American post-war workforce. The address therefore provides a valuable insight into government plans at the time. The source is, however, limited in its purpose in that the address, having been written to convince others of Anderson’s point of view, perhaps omits some ‘inconvenient truths’ about the government’s views, merely describing encouraging plans for female workers.


Sample B:
To what extent was martial law imposed in Poland on 13 December 1981 in order to pre-empt the military intervention of the USSR?”

Identification and evaluation of sources
 
The investigation, examining the situation in Poland in 1980 and 1981, that is the economic conditions, dependence upon the USSR and the interactions between the Polish United Workers’ Party and Solidarity movement, will try to answer the question: To what extent was imposition of martial law in Poland on 13 December 1981 in order to pre-empt the military intervention of the USSR?
 
The two contemporary sources which will be evaluated are a script from the session of Politburo, they are relevant because they reflect the attitude of the USSR towards the situation in Poland, and the proclamation of martial law by General Jaruzelski, in which he argued why martial law had to be imposed in Poland.
 
Working notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Politburo:2

The origin of source 1 is the working notes from the session of the Politburo,  presided by Leonid Brezhnev, on the question of the situation in Poland from December 10, 1981. It was kept by the secretary Chernenko, and published 26 years later in a collection of secret documentation. Its purpose was to record the secret meeting and it was intended only for use within the Politburo.
It is valuable because it shows the intentions of the USSR towards Poland in a period of a particular unrest. It reveals many details about the economic situation in Poland and a predicted Soviet financial aid, which were not, and would not have been, publicized by Polish authorities. A further value is it states the opinion of the USSR about invading Poland in 1981, expressed by Andropov: “We do not intend to introduce troops into Poland. […] even if Poland falls under control of
Solidarity, that’s the way it will be.”3 This strong statement renders Politburo’s treatment and attitude towards Poland.  However, the formal nature of the document limits an insight into a process of reaching the agreement between the comrades. Only Andropov’s recollection of "a very thorough exchange of opinions", suggests limitations as the consensus did not emerge truly spontaneously and that the view regarding military intervention differed among the Politburo.4
 
Footnotes
2. Brezhnev, Leonid. "On the Question of the Situation in Poland", 10 December 1981. Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP, May 14, 2008. Making the History of 1989. Web. Accessed: 28 November 2013.
3 Brezhnev, Leonid. "On the Question of the Situation in Poland", 10 December 1981. Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP, May 14, 2008. Making the History of 1989. Web. Accessed: 28 November
2013, p.9
4 Brezhnev, Leonid. "On the Question of the Situation in Poland", 10 December 1981. Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP, May 14, 2008. Making the History of 1989. Web. Accessed: 28 November 2013. Translator’s Note n.21


A proclamation of martial law by Wojciech Jaruzelski 5

The origin of source 2 is a speech was given by General Wojciech Jaruzelski on December 13, 1981 on the TV and radio. Its purpose was to explain the causes of  the imposition of martial law. It described the current situation, the steps which had to be taken by the Party to counteract it, and the nature of the newly established Military Council for National Salvation.
The value of the speech is that it expresses the opinion of the communist Party about the culprit of the martial law. The General blamed solidarity for refusal of cooperation with the Party, and lack of any agreement on the reforms. A further value is that the  speech is an example of the Party’s propaganda which manipulated with facts and language in order to obtain popular support and present the Party as the only seeker for cooperation.
Moreover, the speech is limited by lack of information on the numerous debts incurred by the government, and brutal repressions by the militia on Solidarity activists. Furthermore, the  General called martial law ‘legal’, while in reality its introduction was against the Constitution.6 Another limitation is the mentioned list of ‘interned’, which, according to Jaruzelski’s memoirs, was unknown to him.7

Footnotes
5 Jaruzelski, Wojciech. „Przemówienie radiowe i telewizyjne wygłoszone 13 grudnia 1981 r.” [„The speech addressed on December 13, 1981 on radio and television”]. Przemówienia 1981-1982. [Speeches 1981-1982]. Książka i Wiedza: Warszawa, 1983.
6 Gmyz, Cezary. “Nielegalny stan wojenny” [“The illegal martial law”]. Rzeczpospolita, 16 March 2011. Web. 17 December 2013
7 Jaruzelski, Wojciech. Stan wojenny. Dlaczego… [The state of war. Why…] Polska Oficyna Wydawnicza „BGW”: Warszawa, 1992

Other sites with IB History IA Guides:

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