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Distinguishing the Differences between different Types of Research Papers

There are several different ways to approach a research paper. Sometimes an instructor will specify what type of research paper they expect to receive, but occasionally the writer will be given the liberty to choose a format on their own. The chosen format will set the tone for the entire paper, so choosing the format that best suits the information or end goal will be significantly helpful to time management and overall success of the assignment. Writers who familiarize themselves with the following options will have the advantage of choosing the best way to present their information.

Argumentative-This is a good structure for writers presenting a debated topic. First, explain the two popular, but opposite, opinions on the issue. Then, use the research to persuade the reader to one side of the issue. The idea is to draw the reader in favor of the writer’s opinion emotionally, while also presenting facts and data that support this viewpoint and argue against contradictions.

Compare and Contrast-This type of paper is used to compare two different subjects and how they relate to one another in both similarities and differences. This is often a format chosen in English courses to compare two or more literary pieces. The goal is not to persuade the reader, but to enlighten them toward the philosophical distinctions between varying viewpoints of related topics or genres.

Cause and Effect-These papers guide the reader through a series of “chain of event” scenarios. Data will be provided to increase the validity of the statement that choosing A will cause B and so forth. It is important to remember that cause and effect papers are not written based on opinion, but on quantifiable evidence with supporting documentation. If supporting evidence can be found, this format can be both informational and intriguing for the reader.

Analytical-The goal of this paper is to present a variety of view-points on a subject without forming an opinion. The writer is simply providing the reader with as much information as possible, but allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. Present each view equally and with supplemental documentation to support each claim. End your paper with a summary of the facts and leave out any influential statements.

Report-Report papers are merely an organized and detailed list of facts about a topic. Choose a subject, research it, and convey the evidence to the reader using quotes, graphs, interviews, and experiments. Again, the goal is not to persuade, but to give as much detail on a subject as possible.

The length of the project will be determined by the instructor, but when given the freedom to choose a format, writers have the luxury of being more creative with their project. Consider the topic carefully, and choose the structure that best accomplishes writer’s main goal.

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