Essay vs Research Paper

By: Ritika Sagar

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Academic institutions provide different kinds of writing opportunities to their students. This can be in the form of essay writing, slogan writing, writing research papers, etc. This variation in writing requires the writers to approach every form of writing differently. One cannot go for one-size fits all approach.

This article focuses on the difference between an essay and a research paper. Though both include writing there is a stark difference in how to approach writing for respective topics. In general terms, an essay means a piece of writing which is majorly focused on the writer’s view. On the other hand, a research paper is an elaborate work that includes a compilation of views of stalwarts who have contributed to the field in which the writer is writing. 

Difference between Essay and Research Paper

  1. An essay is comparatively shorter in length compared to a research paper. An essay paper may range from a few hundred words to a few thousand words. On the other hand, a research paper may run into several pages. Therefore, a research paper is an elaborate work. 
  2. An essay is a writing piece on a given topic whereas a research paper is a detailed analysis of a particular question or statement related to the topic. A research paper may even take a hypothetical question and try to prove it with facts and figures. In other words, it can be said that an essay paper does not require an in-depth analysis of a given topic which cannot be said in the case of a research paper. 
  3. An essay allows the writer to dig deeper into his/her imagination and allow his/her creativity to reflect in the essay. Such creative writing is especially possible when the topic is philosophical rather than factual. On the other hand, a research paper does not give the researcher a lot of space to fill his/her creativity in the paper as a research paper expects one to write more theoretical as well as observational things.
  4. When a writer writes an essay, he/she does not too approach the topic deeply rather a general idea is written down on the topic. On the other hand, a writer has to go through different sources before writing a research paper. This is because the word limit is restrictive in an essay thus, one can just write a gist of all the points that one needs to include. On the other hand, there are no such word limits for a research paper. 
  5. When writing an essay, the writer does not establish figures by himself/herself rather they find them through some sources such as books, magazines, etc., and they just include them in the essay. On the other hand, for a paper, a researcher has to go for their surveys related to the topic so that a true understanding of the given topic is realized. The data mentioned in the research paper comes from the survey done by the researcher. 
  6. An essay and research paper differs based on the viewpoints included in the writing pieces. In an essay, the view of the writer matters the most. Though the writer may include quotes, and views of great personalities to enhance the essay the view of the writer is of supreme importance. On the other hand, a research paper includes as well as explains the views of thinkers or scientists who are related to the topic on which one is supposed to write upon. The researcher can include his/her viewpoints in the conclusion. 
  7. A writer may have minimal knowledge of the given topic for an essay but still, he/she may write on a given topic but, the same cannot be said about a research paper. This is because until and unless, one does not have a thorough understanding of a given topic, writing a research paper would be next to impossible.
  8. An essay generally contains three parts in its structure which are the introduction, body, and conclusion. On the other hand, a research paper contains more parts such as the title page, hypothesis question, introduction, body, conclusion, references, etc. This is one of the reasons why a research paper is lengthier than an essay. 

While the aforementioned points highlight the major differences between a research paper and an essay, it must also be noted that both styles of writing have certain similarities as well. An essay, as well as a research paper, is required to follow a structure without which both will look like a haphazard piece of writing which would be meaningless to readers. Moreover, an essay, as well as a research paper, can be written only when there is research done on the topic by the writer. The degree of research varies as for writing a research paper in-depth research is required while an essay could be written through less research as well. 

Whether one is writing an essay or a research paper, one needs to be aware of what is expected of him/her to write so that the true objective of such an initiative is realized. Though both essay and research paper is different it boosts the academic spirit of an individual. 

By: Ritika Sagar

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