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What Is the Difference between Research Paper and Term Paper?

Created: July 28th, 2015 (12:27)
What Is the Difference between Research Paper and Term Paper?

Attending a college, you are sure to write a number of essays and other types of papers. Sometimes it may be difficult to differentiate between the types of the papers. This differentiation is required when one is asked to write a specific type of the paper (either a research paper or a term paper), but it appears a problem for him/her. Why do students need to know the particular type of the paper before writing it? The reason is obvious: each paper type has a specific structure and the purpose. Everything’s clear with an essay, which is defined as a paper devoted to a particular problem and written in accordance with a specific structure: the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. When speaking about a term paper and a research paper, understanding the differences is important in order to understand what should be written in a paper to meet the instructions. Trying to get the main distinguishing features between a research paper and a term paper, it is important to identify the basic common aspects. Both these types of the papers are aimed at showing students’ knowledge and understanding of a particular problem under analysis. The differences are presented below.

Research Paper

“Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing” Wernher von Braun

Here is a list of the points, which make a research paper different from other paper types

  • A research paper is devoted to a problem within a specific course. Research papers are usually written to study some specific problem, which has not been covered effectively, which has some little research, or which results are doubtful. A research paper has a specific structure despite the subject. The title page, the table of contents, the introduction / background, the literature review, the methodology, the results, the discussion and the conclusions / recommendations. Each of these sections has specific guidelines for writing. No matter which problem is under research, the structure is the same.
  • This type of paper writing requires some time for conducting a research and writing it. There are a lot of different types of research, interview, observation, questionnaire, survey, experiment, etc. Depending on the hypothesis and the purpose of the study, the research may take from a day to even the years.
  • A research paper is usually a lengthy piece of writing. Usually research papers start from 10 pages and may be even 100 pages and more. One can rarely meet a research paper less than 10 pages as in this case it is impossible to explain the major points, to discuss the results and to prove the hypothesis.
  • A research paper can cover the material studied during different years and laid out in various courses. Writing a research paper on a particular problem may require turning to the particular problems discussed in the past. The materials learned in the past may help in explaining some processes, discussing the background information and analyzing the literature on the issue.

Term Paper

  1. A term paper, being a part of a course, is usually completed after a specific period of studying. The course is usually divided into terms and themes. Having come to an end of a term, students are usually asked to take a test or to complete another task, which will show how well students have learnt the course material during the discussed time period. The grades for this task usually have a special value in the overall student’s grade.
  2. A term paper is aimed at checking students’ knowledge after some themes studied. Having completed a specific theme, students may also be asked to take a test, to write an essay, or to complete some task devoted to this particular theme.
  3. A term paper can be of any nature and structure. Opposing to a research paper with a specific structure, a term paper may be written in a form of an essay, it can have a questions-answers structure, it can be an article, a review, an annotated bibliography, a test, and even a research paper.
  4. A term paper can be of any length. It can be one page and 20 pages, no matter which topic is used and what type of the task is requested. Overall, each professor should select what kind of task fits better the specific topic which has been studied.
  5. A term paper involves the material studied during the course. Usually, a term paper covers the theme or the themes studied during the particular time period. The main purpose of such task is to show how well students have understood the material.

To the word, a task in a term paper can be to write a research paper, while it is impossible to have a task in a research paper to write a term paper. These two types of writing are different despite the fact that each student’s task is aimed at checking their knowledge. Educational process is very complicated and requires constant motivation and encouragement from the side of the professors. Students do want to receive new knowledge, but they need to know that this new knowledge is needed in the future. Moreover, some students may need the appreciation of their skills or some additional punishment, which may stimulate them for working harder.

Being aware of the differences between the term papers and the research papers, one may become a better student, improve his/her grades and enlarge the scope of knowledge and skills. Overall, the difference is usually explained by the teacher, but being in the process of studying new information one may miss these points and become frustrated. A term paper and a dissertation have different focus and display various experience of students. Only being aware of the purpose and the structure of the particular task one is sure to complete it successfully. Each student want to receive the highest grades and this article may be in use for those, who strive for higher grades and better knowledge.

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