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Difference Between Research Paper and Essay

15 Mar 2019Essay Writing Guides

Despite the fact that there are two most common academic assignments in high-school and college, there are some misunderstandings regarding their differentiation. Research paper VS essay is a common problem the many students face because those two types of written papers have several common features. What are the similarities and differences? How to define these two types and succeed with writing? This article will help you with all the necessary information on the topic.

It is crucial to know the difference between an essay and research paper because some types of an essay can be pretty close to the research, for example, informative essay. It also requires deep knowledge of the topic and ability to present contrary views and formulate a new opinion on the subject. There are main features to an essay and research paper, such as:

  • Both have a strict outline;
  • Both require research on the subject;
  • The prove students’ writing and analytical skills;
  • Both have particular lengths requirements;
  • Both types deal with citation format (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.);
  • Have citations and the bibliography.

At the same time, there is a distinct difference between these two types. An essay is smaller in amount and requires less research; the second type deals more with analysis and data processing.

Essay VS Research Paper: 10 Points of Difference

Here is a comparative table on essay vs paper that underlines 10 main differences so that you can know exactly what demands to apply to each type of assignment. 


Research Paper

It is shorter; usually 5 paragraphs (starting from the 1-page essay)

It is longer and takes at least 8 pages

Any types of essays deal with the writer’s personal view on the issue, and the sources are generally used to support this perspective.

Presents other scientists’ perception of the subject as well as the opinion of the writer

Doesn’t usually requires the deep research of the topic

Requires a deep analysis of the topic and proper research of various sources

The main goal is to prove one’s writing abilities and capability to give an opinion

The main goal is to provide deep knowledge of the subject, analyze data and ability to make a conclusion based on that

Different types of essays may or may not require familiarity with main sources on the subject

Always requires familiarity with main sources on the subject

Deals with the reader’s perception as well

Should be logically organized and academically formulated

Presents the writer’s opinion

Presents research facts and perspectives in particular order and provides the writer’s conclusion

Types of an essay: persuasive essay, argumentative essay, literature essay, narrative, academic, philosophical, etc.

There are several types of research paper: argumentative, analytical, subject-based, cause and effect, etc.

Usually has 5 parts: introduction, the main body (3 paragraphs) and conclusion.

Has more parts: title page, abstract (summary). Introduction, literature review, the main body (several sections as methodology, discussion, results), conclusion, acknowledgments, references.  

Doesn’t require a particular methodology

A particular methodology should be used in order to perform results

An essay is an easier type of university assignment and generally used for a great variety of subjects. A research paper requires a clear thesis statement and more time to conduct research and analyze data. It is a more complex type of paper that can also be a form of a term paper in some courses.

What Is the Difference between Research Paper and Different Types of Papers

There are several types of essay that can be an assignment in college. The basic requirement is not only to provide opinion and strong argument but also follow the expectation of each particular type.

  • The argumentative essay requires investigating the topic and providing an argument. An argumentative research paper also requires primary and secondary sources and much deeper research. Sometimes research takes a lot of time and effort, so it is beneficial to use academic paper help.
  • An analytical research paper deals with several different perspectives of other scientists on the subject matter and presents them equally. An analytical essay can deal with an analysis of one particular subject, such as narrative structures in the novel, using the writer’s perspective.
  • The informative essay deals with the necessity to clarify and present information on the topic to a reader. On the contrary to the research paper, it is shorter, the information is more generalized, and it doesn’t require an innovative conclusion.
  • The persuasive essay has one main goal – to present the writing skills of the student and persuade a reader on one’s perspective. It deals with rhetorical figures and techniques more than scientific facts. The aim is to present information so that a reader will agree with you.

Generally, both types of assignment require different skills and complexity of research. Essays are shorter and aim at presenting the writer’s opinion with supporting arguments. Research papers are more complex and require a deep study on the matter and presentation of other scientists’ opinions as well as the writer’s conclusion. If you have any struggles with your college assignments, you can buy custom essays and ask our writing service to help. We work with any type of paper on any subject and provide excellent quality right in time.

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