Essay vs. Research Paper: What’s the difference?

Is there actually a difference between a research paper and an essay? For some people, these two terms have so many similarities that they use them interchangeably. However, there are quite a few major differences that must be clarified. Let’s compare the key purpose of research papers and essays, their structure, and writing style.

The definition of essay and research paper

An essay is a creative but short composition on a variety of given topics. Its main purpose is to reveal the proposed topic by bringing a number of arguments written in the form of abstracts supported by personal experience and all sorts of examples.

A research paper is a report on the topic chosen by the author or a description of the content of any article, book, or other scientific work. That is, it’s an author’s research that reveals the essence of a given topic, gives different opinions on the researched issue or problem, reflects on it, and represents the author’s findings and ways to solve the problem.

The key purpose

A research paper is based on an analysis of certain literature sources that the writer used when studying the topic. It consists of the facts indicated in the source. While working on it, the writer cannot make up his or her own facts or distort information from the source with his or her own opinion. The key word in this type of work is “information,” and it can’t be taken from personal experience. It’s collected from all kinds of sources: encyclopedic and educational literature, the Internet, magazines, and so on.

Writing an essay, the author strives to show her or his own attitude towards the problem, argue his/her position, and make the reader believe that this position is right. In this case, there are no restrictions for the writer. After all, the main purpose of the author is to express the attitude to the topic and his or her opinion, not being afraid that someone will doubt it.

Differences in writing style

The essay’s arbitrary composition allows the author to use different techniques to enhance the impact on the reader’s perception, like inversions, antithesis, irony, and other kinds of allegory. Its writing style encourages the author to use assumptions, rhetorical questions, and phraseological units. They add stylistic expressiveness to the text.

The research paper, on the other hand, must have a more restricted structure, with academic style of writing prevailing. The author must follow the formal tone of his or her work, carefully choosing each word to suit the topic. It’s the formal nature of the work that puts certain restrictions on using the same units of speech that are considered acceptable when writing an essay. Instead of convincing the reader, the author needs to answer all the questions raised in the paper.

Structural features

The research paper should meet certain stylistic and structural standards. Its obligatory components include an introduction, main part, methodology, findings, and conclusion. The introductory part contains a reference to the sources used in a paper indicating the name of the authors and the date and place of publication. It’s also here that the writer describes the relevance of the topic. Then the writer specifies ways of structuring the work and explains research methods. In the main part, the author sets out the essence of the problem. In the last two parts, the writer lists the results of the analysis and the options for their application.

The structure of the essay consists of an introduction with explanation of the topic’s relevance, the main part of the work, and the conclusion. Due to the content and form, it has many similarities with a composition, but the author faces a more complicated task: he or she must encourage the reader to reflect on the topic using persuasiveness and writing skills and evoke an emotional response.

Sum up

These differences should be enough for you to understand why an essay and a research paper are not the same things. Still can’t write a single page? Save your precious time for something that really matters – buying research paper and let our creative team handle it for you!

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