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Extended Project Qualification Skills Guide

Planning your research Finding reliable sources of information Academic Writing Citation, referencing and bibliographies Appendices Recommended reading list How to use Access-It

An electronic copy of this guide with live links is available in the Extended Project Qualifications folder on the Shared Drive.

Photo: Antonia Corke. Used with permission Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP

June 2011 updated June 2013

Planning your research It’s important to plan your research before starting to look for information. This will help to make your research more focussed and efficient.

Research Management Write down or make a spider diagram of what you want your project to be about. Then highlight the key concepts. Write down what you already know. Create questions for what you need to find out. Highlight any further key concepts. These key concepts will form the basis of your search strategy. Plan which resources you will use and how you will access them. Spend a little time learning how to use advanced search techniques and the subscription databases. It is time well spent.

Resources Management Keep all your EPQ notes and source details in a real or virtual ringbinder—use OneNote (part of the Office 2010 suite), Evernote or Livebinders It is crucial to keep a note of all the sources you have used: you may need to refer to them again and you will certainly need them for your bibliography. Make sure you have backed up your work to the school network and your hard drive on your laptop or home computer, or an online file storage area like Dropbox or Google Drive - don’t just keep it all on a memory stick which you might lose! Use an online bookmarking tool such as Diigo so you can access saved websites from any computer.

Time Management Split the total project into tasks and give yourself a deadline for each. Remember to allow for other commitments. Prioritise tasks effectively. Be self disciplined but flexible. Set up an iGoogle or Netvibes page to help you stay organised. Install gadgets like calendar, bookmarks, reader and super search. Build EPQ time into your timetable; for instance set aside a couple of PS lessons every week as EPQ sessions.

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Finding reliable sources of information Start by planning exactly what you need to find out, what search terms you will use and any good resources you are already aware of. Here are some other useful starting points.

Access-It School Library Catalogue Lists all the books in the school library of course, but also over 10,000 websites which have been checked for accuracy and reliability. These are updated every month. Visual Search>Study Skills>EPQ will give you links to the sites mentioned in this booklet and many other useful resources. If there is a book you want which is not in library stock ask me about ordering it for you. Click Library Catalogue on your browser homepage to begin.

Subscription Databases These extremely useful databases give you access to literally millions of books, articles and podcasts from academic websites, journals and local and national newspapers: high quality information from excellent sources which is not available, or hard to find, on the free web. Go to the library catalogue homepage and follow the instructions there.

Public Libraries Did you know that your local library can get you books from anywhere in the UK? Search the online catalogue to order books from within the county which will be delivered to a branch of your choice. If you’ve tracked down a book or magazine article which they do not have, they can get it for you for a small fee. You can also access a number of very good databases absolutely free using your library card and PIN. If you’re not already a member of your local public library now is the time to join—just go to the website, you can do it all online. See details at the end of this, and there are links to local library websites on the school library catalogue.

Virtual Libraries Other great places to start looking for information are The Internet Public Librarian ( and Intute ( These are virtual libraries which select, collect and categorise the best of the web.

Google Advanced Search and Google Scholar A really useful way of refining your search to get fewer and more relevant results. Click on the Settings tab at the bottom right of the Google homepage and choose Advanced. Google Scholar returns only academic results. Look for it under the

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Academic Writing It is very important that your written work demonstrates the key features of academic style. As you are doing your research pay attention to the structure and writing style of the texts to help inform your own work. Remember that online sources may use a less formal style which is not appropriate for this project.

Structure This helps you present your work in a logical way. You need to have an introduction and a conclusion and guide your reader through your line of reasoning. Keep refining and adding to your initial plan as you go through the project; this will help you structure your final written piece. Keep key points together and use separate paragraphs for separate themes. You can write each section separately and re-organise them but make sure they are linked together in a way that makes sense to the reader. Make sure you are not wasting words on information which is not directly relevant to your project.

Language Academic language should be formal, precise and analytical. You have a maximum of 5000 words so you must be able to write in a concise manner while still including the relevant content. Statements should be supported with evidence and points developed and evaluated. Make sure your writing is unambiguous and you have explained key concepts clearly. Take great care with grammar and spelling and don’t rely on your computer to point out mistakes. Try reading your work aloud to get a feel for how it flows and whether it makes sense.

Using sources One of the reasons for referencing your sources is to show you have read widely and considered many different views. In your writing comment on your sources and any quotes you use; this shows that you are building on and developing these ideas and your reading has contributed to your thinking. Make sure you have cited them appropriately in the text and included them in your bibliography. You only need citations for work you quote or refer to directly in the text; other sources go in the bibliography. You must also acknowledge the source of any images, even if they are copyright free.

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Citations, referencing and bibliographies It is very important to show that you have researched your topic using a variety of sources of information, and to distinguish your own ideas from those of others. Citations, referencing and bibliography help you to do this. There are various styles of doing this so it is important that you are consistent throughout your work. AQA does not specify which style you use; we recommend APA as you can use Access-It and Word 2010 to help you reference in this style (see below).

Citation This is when you use a source in your text, either referring directly to an idea or specific information, or quoting or paraphrasing another’s work. It will take a short form such as (Taylor, 1997, p34). You put it in brackets in the text.

Referencing This gives the full details of the works you have cited, either in a footnote or in a list at the end of the document. For print materials this information is usually on the reverse of the title page. The information you need to include will depend on the format of your source; books, e-books, articles in print or online, websites, podcasts, video or audio and personal communication all need to be referenced. The further reading list gives you places you can go for help and your supervisor will also assist you with this.

Bibliography This comes at the end of your project and is an alphabetical list of all the resources you used in researching your project, even if you have not referred to them directly in the text. Entries take the same form as your references. You may choose to include your reference list as part of your bibliography rather than as a separate list.

Generating References If you have found your resources through Access-It, it will generate APA citations for you—see the How To sheet appended. Microsoft Office 2010 has a very useful References tab. Make sure you have selected the appropriate style, then click Insert Citation and fill in the details. Word will generate the citation and reference and create your bibliography when you’ve finished. Citeulike is a really useful website which will help you manage your sources and generate references. You could also use apps such as Easybib, where you scan the ISBN to generate the reference.

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Recommended Reading Of course the AQA Extended Project Student Companion is essential reading but you will find these books and websites extremely useful too. See the EPQ section under Visual Search on Access-It for more books and websites.

Books (all in the School Library) Godfrey, Jeanne. (2009). How to use your reading in your essays. Palgrave Macmillan London. Kennedy, John. (2005). Study Skills. Studymates Abergele. Mack, Jim. (2011). Write for success. Heinemann Library London. Paulk, Greg., Paulk, Elisa. (2010). Panic-free presentations. Heinemann Library London. Pears, Richard., Shields, Graham. (2010). Cite them right. Palgrave Macmillan London. Phipps, Tessa. (2011). Study for success. Heinemann Library London. Soles, Derek. (2005). The academic essay. Studymates Abergele. Watkins, Gerald., Grix, Jonathan. (2010). Information skills : finding and using the right resources. Palgrave Macmillan London. (This is an example of a bibliography using APA referencing. The punctuation is important!)

Useful websites: study skills

Guide to using the Internet for research

tutorial about using the web to find information

Newcastle University Writing Development Centre

practical advice for successful studying

interactive site with videos and lots of resources for study

Useful websites: information Directory of Open Access Journals—full text articles from academic journals articles, blogs and video lectures from some of the world’s top experts lectures and talks from some great thinkers and influential people

videos on influential ideas in business, science, culture, technology and more

The Open University’s Learning Space has useful resources

iTunesU gives you access to a wide range of podcasts and lectures to download to your computer or MP3—find it in iTunes.

Public Library Websites Suffolk Reference Direct

Cambridgeshire Library Online Norfolk Online Reference Library Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP 6

June 2011 updated June 2013

Academic Journals These are very useful sources for your project. Many academic journals are peer reviewed, meaning that each article has been checked by one or more subject specialists, so they are very reliable and often more up to date than books. You can access many of them online through InfoTrac and DOAJ but we also have a selection of titles in the Library.

National Geographic

Philip Allan Review series


(Archive available online)

History Today

PE Review

BBC History

20th Century History Review

BBC Focus (science and technology)

Economic Review

Omnibus (classics)

Business Studies Review

Aesthetica (visual and performing arts)

Geography Review

Media Magazine

English Review

The Week (news and current affairs)

Psychology Review Physics Review Chemistry Review Biological Sciences Review

And finally...a word about Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a great place to start looking for information but it is not recognised as a suitable academic source. When you read a Wikipedia article, look for the blue superscript numbers which indicate a citation. If you scroll down to the bottom of the article you can see the references and often access the source material directly. This makes a better information source for you to use. The external links also listed here can be very useful too.

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

How to use Access-It The Library Catalogue has more uses than just finding books and websites. By logging in and making use of the list functions you can request and reserve books, create resource lists, and generate citations for your bibliography. Here’s how...

Open up your internet browser and click on Library Catalogue. From home use this URL You can use the catalogue without logging in, but if you want to reserve or request a book you will need your borrower number which is available from the librarian.

Click on Fast Find

Type in your search terms and select your criteria

Hover your mouse over List to see functions to allow you to sort, print and view. Use the check boxes at the right of each item to select and add to your own list. You can do this for a number of searches and then View List to see all your selections. NB your list will not be saved once you exit Access-It.

Select items on the list and View Citation to generate APA format references.

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP

From Print you can use the printer dialogue box to save to OneNote.


June 2011 updated June 2013

Advanced Google Search tips

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Mrs L Martin MA MCLIP


June 2011 updated June 2013

Epq skills handbook  

Essential skills for the Extended Project Qualification

Epq skills handbook  

Essential skills for the Extended Project Qualification