Main Differences Between A Research Paper And An Essay For College Students

In high school, students are assigned many essays and fewer research papers. When those same high school students get to college, the trend is reversed. There are more research papers and these of course are a foundation for or lead into dissertations and other more lengthy academic works.

Perhaps the best way to understand the differences between an essay and a research paper is to clearly define each document. In short, an essay is just that. It is often defined by its length and it is most definetly not a work with tens of thousands of words. In both cases you can expect your professor or tutor to give you a specific number of words. You need to pay strict attention to that fact as to write far fewer or more words will almost certainly count against you.

A research paper, not to confuse matters, is also not a lengthy document. Both types of writing are distinguished from a dissertation and a thesis. And while an essay will be written using research, it is does not have the same emphasis on that factor.

In a research paper, you will be expected to show evidence that you have conducted research to create your writing. That is not so with an essay.

Both need to be well written and to adhere to the structure required for such pieces. Both will be of modest length and both will most definetly address the question.

A research paper can be seen as being more specific than an essay which can be more general. With an essay you can tackle a broad subject and write generally on that topic. With a research paper you will be given a more specific topic and be expected to go into fine detail. Naturally you will be able to list your sources which again are part of showing evidence of your research.

Perhaps the major difference between an essay and a research paper is the end result. With an essay you will allow the research to speak for itself. You are more the reporter of the information. But with a research paper, you will not only have to do the research and gather the data, you will have to provide your take or angle on that research. You are less of a reporter in a research paper and more of an analyst.