The Biology IA
A Comprehensive Introduction
Intro to the IA:
Students studying Biology as part of the International Baccalaureate diploma program will have to submit an internally assessed (IA) lab report worth 20% of their final grade. The report follows the student’s ability to both conduct an experiment and produce a scientific report documenting their findings.
The marking criteria holds 5 main prongs:
. Personal Engagement (8%)
The personal engagement is marked out of 2 and based on the students’ personal interest in their chosen investigation. This should be displayed throughout the IA with the student discussing the significance of their project while tying their own personal connection to it.
. Exploration (25%)
The exploration is marked out of 6 and focuses on the first few sections of the IA prior to conducting the experiment. The criteria looks at the student’s ability to think critically about the materials and techniques required for their experiment, while considering possible ethical and environmental implications. Students are also graded on their research question, relevance of information used, specificity of the method, and awareness of safety precautions.
. Analysis (25%)
The analysis is marked out of 6 and focuses on the results and data portion of the IA. The criteria requires students to gather sufficient raw data, process it correctly, and present it in a cohesive and organised manner. This includes a well explained processing of raw data, correct interpretation of results, and data to be relevant in answering the research question.
. Evaluation (25%)
The evaluation is marked out of 6 and focuses on the student’s ability to draw accurate and relevant conclusions from the data gathered. The student should be able to answer their research question, while providing sufficient evidence both from the experiment as well as other sources to back their conclusion. Furthermore, to achieve the higher bands of this criteria, students should demonstrate critical thinking by reflecting on the methodology used and commenting on both random and systemic errors.
. Communication (17%)
Communication is the final component of the marking criteria and is marked out of 4. This section focuses on the layout of the overall paper, clear presentation of results, as well as the application of scientific language. To achieve a good score students should ensure they have an index page, correct citations, and that ALL tables/ figures are relevant and labelled.
Writing the IA:
Writing the IA can seem like an overwhelming task but can be made much more manageable by splitting the report into 9 main sections
Aim/ Research Question
Your IA should follow these sections and should include everything in the checklist below:
Aim/ Research Question
- The aim/ research question is the first thing a marker sees when reviewing your IA. It should be concise but provide enough information that the goal of the experiment is understood
- The research question should include both your independent and dependent variable
- The research question should include any relevant information required to understand the nature of the experiment eg. The time frame of the experiment, scientific name of any organisms/ chemicals being used
- The background information should explain any theory required to understand the experiment. It should delve into any processes being investigated and explain them concisely using relevant sources.
- Within the background information there should be a clear personal engagement as well as reasoning behind conducting the experiment, answering why you chose to investigate this specific topic.
- The use of scientific language is crucial here. All unfamiliar scientific terms should be explained, and any relevant diagrams should be included (and correctly referenced).
- A brief explanation of the methods used to conduct the experiment as well as an outline the main tools/ equipment needed should be included towards the end of your background info.
- The hypothesis should include an educated prediction of the results backed by scientific evidence
- The hypothesis should restate the independent and dependent variable and explain their expected relationship
- This should include comprehensive explanation of the chemical processes/ variables investigated and how they are said to impact the results
- Scientific language is crucial here and should be used where appropriate.
- The variables should mention you independent, dependent, as well as at least 5 control variables
- Independent and dependent variable:
- What it is, including specific measurements
- How is it measured, with any equipment and uncertainties mentioned
- Control Variables
- What are they?
- How are they measured?
- How will you ensure they stay controlled?
- Why is it important for them to remain controlled?
- The method should explain all the steps required to complete your chosen experiment.
- The method should be clear, concise, and include ALL measurements and uncertainties
- You should include a labelled diagram of your set up that highlights the main tools/ equipment that you used as well as any materials relevant to the experiment
- The results should consist of 3 main components: Raw Data, Processed Data, Graph(s)
- ALL tables should be titled, include measurements, and relevant uncertainties
- You should include an explanation of how your data was processed including any mathematical manipulation or statistical tests that were conducted
- If relevant, include a section stating any qualitative data/ observations that were made throughout the experiment
- A major component of the results is the graph, which should check all the following:
- Graph title
- Labelled x and y axis, with units, and uncertainties if relevant
- Suitable trend line, with R2 value displayed on the chart
- Standard deviation of points displayed on chart
- The analysis is a descriptive paragraph of your graph and should address the correlation between the independent and dependent variable, exploring all major trends within the graph.
- The significance of the R2 value, standard deviations, and any outliers should be addressed but don’t need to be explained
- The conclusion is where you explain the results of your experiment and answer the research question
- You should state what the relationship between your independent and dependent variable is and further use your data as evidence
- Here is where you explain any outliers, what may have caused them, and the impact this may have had one your data. This can be done in the evaluation based on where it fits best
- You conclusion should use scientific language to explain any phenomenon related to the experiment
- The evaluation focuses on the application of the method throughout the experiment
- You should address both random and systemic errors within the method, the impact these errors have on the reliability and validity of the method and further demonstrate that your method was suitable in accurately answering the research question
- The extension is another place to demonstrate personal engagement and interest in your chosen investigation
- You should briefly discuss a way in which your experiment can be modified or extended to provide further insight into your chosen topic
Finally, here are some tips and tricks to ensure your IA is at its best:
- Referencing: You should use a consistent referencing style throughout your IA, including both in text citations and an alphabetically ordered bibliography at the end
- Time management: When doing a lab-based report time management is key. You need to give yourself enough time to both run the experiment and complete the write up taking into consideration other deadlines you may have.
- Teacher Support: Your teachers are there to help you and provide support. Take their feedback and more importantly ask questions when they arise!