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Refining my EE question

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Hey guys,

I am currently in IB2 this year, and am in a dilemma. I had picked a topic and question for my extended essay during IB1 last year (History), and my question was "Why and how did Japan invade China and Korea in the early 20th century?" However, my advisor says that my question is too broad and shallow - in short, my current EE is crap. However, he said I could try and tweak the content of my current essay to fit into the History EE criteria, but I feel that he is suggesting I pick a different research question. My question to you guys is, should I stick with my current question, improve my content, and hope for something higher than an E? Should I pick a narrower research question? My EE is not due until late January for the final draft, so I believe I have time to start a new one. If yes to my second question, I would like to focus on Japanese imperialism in the early 20th century. Any suggestions for a research question? So far, the one I have come up with is "To what extent did Japanese propaganda influence the thoughts of the Chinese in Manchuria during the early 20th century?" Thanks!

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This question is super duper broad. If you tried to write about everything and keep it under 4000 words, you'd end up with a very shallow analyis, bad EE, and do rather poorly. Here are my suggestions:

1. Pick one country that Japan invaded - either China or Korea. Do not do both.

2. Pick a specific time that Japan invaded the country you chose. I'm not talking "early twentieth century" here. I'm talking about picking a specific year or a specific invasion. Your current time frame is too broad and probably involves multiple invasions. Just pick one (MAYBE two if they are closely related).

If you've already researched, pick the country and specific time period that you have the most/best sources for. That will save time in having to completely redo your research, especially since your EE is due internally to your school in January.

If you want to scrap your current topic and start over, I'm not exactly sure if your new proposed topic would cut it. How would you know if their thoughts were influenced? What would you use as evidence for that? History EEs need to be based on concrete facts and arguments, not things that "might have happened" or things you can't really investigate. You could still use Japanese propaganda, but maybe see what else it influenced and choose one of those to write about instead?

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Thanks for replying! I thought about what you said and decided to focus more on China, especially the Nanking Massacre (there seems to be a great deal of controversy surrounding this topic, so good for me :D). I want to write about the differing estimates of death tolls, but I'm having trouble wording my question. So far, I have, "Which number best estimates the death toll of the Chinese killed during the Nanking Massacre?", but I still feel that the answer to this is easily found. Is there any chance that I could analyse this question in-depth?

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Which number best estimates the death toll of the Chinese killed during the Nanking Massacre? is definitely too narrow a question, and doesn't really seem to be asking a deep historical question. Nanking Massacre is good though, because it has lots of historiographical debate in terms of Chinese vs. Japanese perspectives. If you're looking at something to do with the Nanking Massacre similar to your question, perhaps reframe the question to look at the historical controversy surrounding the event and the political impacts of it in China and Japan. Though, I would probably be inclined to look at something to do with the causes, responsibilities or extents of the crimes that occurred at Nanking. I am hesitant to give more advice though, as I am not writing a History EE (doing English).

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Thanks to you too, so I'm thinking of investigating the evolution of the Japanese political perspective in regards to the Nanking Massacre in the 20th century. Is that deeply historical enough, worthy of study, and explainable in 3,500-4,000 words? If so, how would I formulate this into a question?

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