Practicing Paper 3

The following set of practice papers are not official IB papers.  As of the creation of this page, there is only one specimen paper available.  All of the papers are created here by me, based on examiner experience.

The questions for the papers are always the same.  An explanation of the questions is given below.

For each exam, there is a set of sample responses. Remember that in the new curriculum the stimulus pieces may be either qualitative or quantitative research.

Question set 1: methods and sampling

The first set of questions is always the same, regardless of the stimulus piece. These questions are:

Identify the method used and outline two characteristics of the method.

Describe the sampling method used in the study.

Suggest an alternative or additional research method giving one reason for your choice.

Things to remember:

  • Be as specific as you can be when identifying the method.  Better to say it is a quasi, natural or true experiment, rather than just "experiment."
  • An alternative research method does not have to be a completely different method, but a different type of a single research method. For example, if a structured interview was done, then a focus group would be a valid alternative method.
  • When using an alternative method, students are not limited to the list in the guide.  They could use questionnaires or surveys as well. Remember that "brain scanning" is not a method in and of itself.

Question set 2: ethics

In the second set of questions, one of the two questions is always asked. Students will be asked one of the following questions:

Describe the ethical considerations that were applied in the study and explain if further ethical considerations could be applied.

Describe the ethical considerations in reporting the results and explain ethical considerations that could be taken into account when applying the findings of the study.

Things to remember:

  • For the first question, all ethical considerations that were stated in the text should be described.  In addition, other considerations that have not been mentioned should be addressed.  It would be best to think of the Magic 6: Consent, Anonymity, Right to withdraw, Debriefing, Undue stress or harm, Deception. It has a stupid acronym: CAR DUD! (Or Dud Car, if you like!)
  • The second question has two parts.  When describing the reporting of the results, it is important to consider anonymity and perhaps the credibility of the findings.  It is important to consider that simply not writing the names of the participants may not be sufficient to protect their identity.  The second part of the question asks students to think about what concerns there may be in applying the findings.  This is a hypothetical exercise, but it should focus on the question of undue stress or harm.

Question 3: theoretical understandings

In the third set of questions, one of the following three questions is always asked:

Discuss the possibility of generalizing the findings of the study.

Discuss how a researcher could ensure that the results of the study are credible.

Discuss how the researcher in the study could avoid bias.

Things to remember:

  • When answering any of the above questions, students must make direct reference to the stimulus piece.
  • When discussing generalizability, remember that there is a difference between quantitative and qualitative research methods.  In quantitative research, generalizability has a lot to do with the representative nature of the sample, the size of the sample and the ecological validity of the experiment.  In qualitative research, the focus is more on transferability. To what extent could the findings be transferred to the population from which the sample was drawn?  What variables are important to consider when transferring the findings to another population?  How could this research be generalized to generate theory?
  • When discussing credibility - this is a qualitative question. Credibility is when we are able to determine the validity of our interpretations of participants' behaviour. Ways to establish credibility include triangulation (method, researcher, data), asking the participants to give feedback on the interpretations, engaging in reflexivity or using aggregate approaches (e.g. looking at several other similar case studies and drawing a conclusion based on trends).
  • When looking at how to avoid bias, remember that experimental research can use blind controls.  In addition, you should consider how the sample is chosen, the role of reflexivity and how triangulation could be used.
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