Essay vs research paper

Expert’s Take on Essay vs Research Paper

Essay vs. research paper is a quite debatable topic. Although both of them are completely different from each other but possess some similarities as well. This causes the students to get confused between both of them. It can create chaos in a student's mind; they may start pondering upon questions like what is an essay paper? Or what is research essay? To be clear, let's first see the similarities and differences between essay writing and research paper?

Similarities between essay and research paper

Despite being one of their own kinds they still share some common attributes. Research papers and essays both are required at different academic levels in the form of assignments. Typically, both of them follow a quite similar structural form. However, a research paper focuses more on answering a research question, while essays often debate on a particular topic. General similarities are as follows;

  • Talking about structure, essays and research papers both possess almost a similar kind of basic structure. Both of them begin with an introduction and they include body paragraphs and a conclusion.
  • Essay and research papers both require some kind of research before writing.

Differences between essay and research paper

There are many differences between essay and research paper, both of them are unique in their own sense. Essay vs. research paper what is the difference? Let’s have a look one by one;

  • The major difference in research paper and essay is the length. Research papers are usually longer in length, while essays are shorter and include 4 to 5 paragraphs in general.
  • Research paper is included in the multi-page writing. While essays are more precise.
  • The research papers generally describe the analysis of a point, while essays provide the answers to different questions.
  • Research papers depend more on the knowledge of other researchers for proving the point while essays mainly depend on the personal experiences and thinking of the writer.
  • Research papers are included in primary literature while essays are taken as secondary literature.
  • The research paper writer starts his work from scratch. But in essays the writer picks up a topic and gets data from the work done by others.
  • The research paper is based on analysis and conduction of research. On the other hand, essays are based on general overview.
  • The research paper includes more steps than an essay.
  • The word count of both of them has a huge difference.

Having this said, let’s have a broader look at similarities and differences between essays and research papers.


Moving with sequence, let's begin with essays. An essay is generally considered as the composition of ideas in the form of paragraphs on a particular topic. On initial levels of education students are mostly asked to write small essays. This is the starting point of preparing a student to write the long length essays later as they move to the higher classes.  

These essays let the teachers judge the students on various levels. Moreover, they exhibit the student’s writing, analyzing and reading skills.

Main parts of essay

Generally essays include three major parts that are as follows;

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion


The introduction is the first and most important part of the essay. As it is said that, ‘first impression is the last impression’. So, the readers get an idea of the quality of the essay by reading the first few lines. It should be captivating enough to grab the reader’s attention. Apart from being attractive it should also demonstrate the main idea of the essay.


It is the part where the actual information about the topic is written. It can be more than one paragraph according to the topic. Write all the necessary information in the body in extensive form. Demonstrate the knowledge of the topic effectively.


The last and another important part is conclusion. Conclude your essay being neutral and make sure you don’t write any sweeping statement about the topic. Be careful about the selection of words because it will leave an imprint on the reader’s mind. 

Types of essays

Essays can be of different types and styles depending upon the goals of the writer. There are four basic types of essays that are as follows;

  • Narrative essays: This type is more like storytelling. The writer may explain a real-life story or experience. Story telling may sound simple and easy to attempt but in reality it is time taking and challenging. The writer has to think and write about real life events. Moreover, it has to be engaging and the writer should try to make the storyline as vivid as possible.
  • Descriptive essays: These essays paint a picture in readers mind by describing the subject in detail. The writer has an ocean of choices in this type. The subject could be a person, place, object, or even a memory of a special event. In a descriptive essay the writer strives to communicate an in-depth meaning. Highly evocative descriptive essays can be helpful to intrigue the reader’s sentiments.
  • Expository essays: These are informative type essays that express a balanced scrutiny of a topic. The writer explains the topic by using facts, statistics, and examples. They encompass a broad range of variations, for example comparison and contrast, cause and effect and the “how to” or the process essay. Because they are based on facts and not fiction, the writers don’t reveal their sentiments.
  • Persuasive essays: This type of essay convinces the readers to receive the writer’s perspective. The writer has to create the essay by using facts and logic. Moreover, the essay must include examples, expert opinion, and sound reasoning. The writer should demonstrate all sides of the argument, but the representation should be clear.

In addition, essays can be formal or informal depending upon the context and purpose of writing. Formal essays are more for serious purpose, include dignity, are organized and usually have specific length. While informal essays consist of more personal elements and can be rambling sometimes because they do not follow any specific stylometry.  

Research paper

Unlike essays, a research paper is a more extended form of writing. It is a written and published form of work that describes the original outcome of a research and showcases the findings of the researcher. It should focus on the main idea supported by information provided by you.

For writing a research paper the key factor is the “Research” people have to conduct a proper research only then they can write a research paper. It cannot include random paragraphs hence it has to be more specified.

Embrace paraphrasing and summarizing that should include facts and ideas. Use different and suitable words and sentence structures to present your idea and leave out the unnecessary details. Add relatable quotations, when you quote even a short phrase. Make sure to copy the exact words and enclose them in quotation marks.  

Don’t forget to cite the author’s name and provide proper reference. The purpose of the citation is to give credit to the original writer. It is a rule as well as it makes your work more strong and authenticates that the information has taken from reliable sources.

Steps to write a research paper

As writing a research paper is a lengthy task that’s why it is better to write it step by step so that you don’t miss any information. You can follow the steps mentioned below to organize your paper;

  • Select a title
  • Do research
  • Narrow the research
  • Plan
  • Write
  • Revise
  • Document
  • Proofread

Select a title

Choose a suitable title for your research paper according to your area of research. The title must represent the idea of the research and should be precise. You can get help from your instructor to select the title.

Do research

Conduct a proper and original research on your selected topic. Read books and other research papers on the same topic as well to get guidance. Books will give you a broad perspective and recent articles will provide you the updated information.

Narrow the research

When you choose the main topic which you want to research it will contain extensive information and will be diversified. Narrow your research by selecting one specific question about the diverse main topic to make your research brief.


Plan your research components before writing. Make an outline to create the final product in a logical and organized order.


Write your research paper in small parts to write every part efficiently. Don’t write it all at once to avoid mistakes.  


Once you are done writing the draft revise it again and again to improve and organize the data. Get a revision from someone else to take others' perspective. Edit it if you find any flaw or error.


Documentation is very important in research writing. It means to mention the citations that you write in paragraphs in the form of references. Make a heading of references and write all the references in elaborated form in the form of a list at the end. Use one documentation style for all the references.


Read the final paper carefully and check the errors and mistakes. Rectify them and make sure your paper follows the proper format. Use software's to check plagiarism and other errors. Then recheck it to make sure it is free from flaws.

Structure of a research paper

Research papers have a basic structural form regardless of the topic. The structural components of a research paper are as follows;

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methodology/Experiment
  • Results and discussion
  • Conclusion’
  • Acknowledgement
  • References
  • Supporting information


Compose a title that describes what the research is about precisely. The title fulfills three parameters, it should be simple, attractive and accurate.


The abstract is the short demonstration of the detailed research. The first few sentences should reflect what the study is about. It should be simple and include major findings so that the reader can easily understand the idea. Keep it short, effective, creative and most important full of curiosity for the reader.


Give a general background of the topic in the starting couple of sentences. Address previous works done on that topic and introduce the issues in the present work.


This is the section where you will write the major work that you have done. You can divide this section into different sub headings like, materials & methods, measurements, characterization and data analysis.

Results and discussion

Results and discussion can be divided into two different sections or they can be combined. Describe the obtained results in detailed form and write detailed discussion. The facts and figures should be according to the theme and not like how they were actually conducted.

Compare and contrast your data with previous works and enhance the scope of discussion by including photographs. Avoid unnecessary information and excessive citation.


Conclude your research with major findings and brief discussion. Do not rewrite the abstract; these are two different things. Abstract is written before doing research and conclusion is written after the research.


Don’t forget to thank the funding agency, colleagues, instructor and other people who helped you complete it successfully.  


Add references about the citations. The style of writing references may vary for different journals.  

Supporting information

Write supporting information if there any like analysis, blank experiments and additional data.

Crux of the matter

Hence it can be clearly seen that both of them possess different characteristics and are used for different purposes. Yet they have few things in common.  

In addition, if you want to learn more about essays and research papers or you need professional assistance in any of the academic writings and want to pay for a research paper, you can check out our website essay48. You can get help from experts in your academics online and order as well.

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