Distinguishing Between an Essay & a Research Paper

There are several styles of writing, and in college, professors often test students’ understanding by assigning essays and research papers. It is vital for students to know what is expected of them to prevent reprimands or ridicule. This article will discuss the differences between essays and research papers.

Research Paper

A research paper is a writing style that showcases a student’s analytical skills. To write a research paper on a given subject, students must read extensively, familiarize themselves with the works of great authors and experts, and cite them throughout their work. This requires considerable effort, but the internet and college libraries containing journals can be excellent sources of information.

A research paper requires students to provide a deep level of information by presenting all facts and figures and citing the works of experts and authorities on the subject. This involves incorporating one’s own thinking and ideas, supported by facts from earlier research papers. It is not possible for a student to write a research paper without having a deep understanding of the subject. They must not only present the existing knowledge base but also critically analyze it, presenting their insight and ideas. A research paper is a platform for students to be critical and judgmental while presenting their perspective to readers.


Essay writing is a style taught to students quite early in classrooms. A standard essay writing format consists of five paragraphs, with the first one being the introduction. The main parts of an essay are the body and its conclusion.

There are various styles of essay writing, including comparative, cause and effect, descriptive, and persuasive essays. Descriptive essays are lengthy, while persuasive essays attempt to convince readers about a topic by presenting the writer’s point of view and supporting it with evidence and facts. Essays are typically written in the third person, and students are discouraged from writing essays in the first person.

Key Takeaways

  • Essays are short pieces of writing where a writer provides their views on a topic, while research papers are lengthy pieces that require a deeper level of knowledge and citation of earlier experts’ works.
  • Research papers involve critical analysis and the presentation of one’s own insight and ideas, while essays typically involve presenting an argument or viewpoint supported by evidence and facts.
  • Essays are generally written in the third person, whereas research papers showcase a student’s analytical skills and require extensive research and citation of expert works.
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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