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Types of Research Papers

6 types of research papers every student must know

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6 types of research papers
 Jack Morgan   Published On May 13, 2019 | Updated on Oct 17, 2023  Writing Service

Most of you must be aware of the steps to write a research paper. Did you know that the style of writing changes according to the type of paper you are dealing with? Now, while pursuing higher education, you are expected to prepare diverse types of research papers.

On multiple occasions, research papers are prepared as per the rules mentioned in the guidelines provided by your professor. However, there are times when the type of research paper won’t be specified explicitly. This is why an accurate understanding of the paper requirements is so crucial. To help you avoid confusion over the types of research, have come up with an elaborate guide below.

1. Argumentative research papers

This type of research papers elaborates on two sides of a controversial phenomenon. A great argumentative paper comprises of in-text citations from researchers that emphasize on the facts from both sides of any particular issue. It should wrap up with the writer evaluating the pros and cons of every argument.

Now, the writer might be asked to defend one side more than the other on a specific issue. The approach must be factual and unbiased. It should incorporate both sides of the argument.

For instance, a student may be asked to present a paper on "Is there an over emphasis on the concept of feminism nowadays?" He/she may take a stance against the idea of over emphasis based on his/her research. An ideal paper on this topic will also include details from both sides of the issue.

Given below are a few tips to prepare a stellar paper:

  • Writing a killer thesis statement
  • Making logical claims
  • Elucidating on the counter-arguments
  • Adding transitions in between arguments
  • Incorporating solid evidence to support every argument
  • Citing the sources

Refer to the illustration below to gain a concrete idea on the essential aspects of the research paper.



2. Cause and effect research papers

This form of research paper focuses on the possible outcomes from a particular action or policy in a logical progression that can be understood easily by the readers. Click here for an example of a cause and effect research paper structure from the Richmond Public School, USA.

The cause and effect research paper consists of the following steps.

  • Decide on a list of possible topics for your research paper; conduct brainstorming and select an appropriate one from the list.
  • Present a thesis statement that exudes instant appeal.
  • Carry out thorough research. Go through various books, journals, articles, online resources, etc.
  • Invest a considerable amount of time outlining the research paper.
  • Based on the information you have gathered, you need to prepare a rough draft of the paper. You can keep refining it as you continue to work on your paper.
  • Include relevant citations and references within the paper.


3. Analytical research papers

This form of research paper also presents information from a variety of different sources. However, the focus of this type of research paper is in evaluating the different perspectives from a factual standpoint instead of an opinionated one.

While working on this paper, your emphasis should be on the findings, methodologies or conclusions of other prominent researchers. You can conclude the paper by presenting a summary of the findings and a suggested framework for further study.

You might present a particular analysis of a literary text, or you may analyze how the changes in a particular animal’s habitat have affected its breeding patterns. The following are some essential considerations to write analytical papers.

  • Choose interesting facts from your research and turn them into arguments.
  • Divide the big ideas into solid, measurable sections and then emphasize on a small, manageable piece of the issue.
  • Concentrate on the problems, disagreements, tensions, or changes over time.
  • Back the major arguments with pertinent examples and evidence.


4. Compare and contrast papers

This form of research paper is assigned to students enrolled in the field of literature. Students have to compare two different elements within the same genre. Compare and contrast papers are mostly written by pupils belonging to the sphere of social sciences. The paper presents an opportunity to compare two different theoretical viewpoints.

A compare and contrast paper focuses on describing both elements that are compared.  The essential aspect of the paper is that when both the elements are compared, you have to provide relevant examples to back the comparison.

The following are the process to prepare a stellar compare and contrast paper.

Picking the contrasting elements: Focus on elements that can be compared or contrasted easily. For instance, if you are analyzing an idea (whether philosophical or political) you must evaluate the contrasting ideas.

Listing the traits: Make sure that you divide the paper into two sections. One side focuses on the first element, the other on the second element. Then, start listing out the similarities and differences that readily come to mind.

Using transitions to indicate the contrast: Always make sure to use expressions that precisely convey the contrast or comparison. Include phrases like, ‘on the contrary,’ ‘on the other hand,’ ‘however,’ ‘whereas,’ etc.


5. Interpretive papers

This type of papers is commonly prepared in the areas of literature, social sciences and humanities. The major aspect of an interpretive paper is that the student has to write the paper depending on a prevalent theoretical framework. You have to adopt supporting details to back up the thesis statement and support the specific findings of the paper.

The following principles are to be kept in mind while working on interpretive paper.

  • The introductory section must capture the attention of the readers and compel them to read ahead. It should come with a coherent thesis statement, which states your opinion about a particular text in a single sentence. The thesis statement should be present at the end of the introduction.
  • You have to maintain the relevance with the subject you are dealing with and avoid giving too much information, which is of little use to the reader. There should be a smooth transition from one paragraph to the other. This leads the reader to the thread of the argument, helping him/her to develop an understanding of what the paper is trying to convey.
  • You have to derive adequate details from multiple sources when giving subjective information. You can gather valuable information to develop the basis of the argument.
  • You have to summarize the text you are interpreting. This, in turn, helps the reader to get familiar with the subject without going too deep into the details. You have to base your arguments in detail and conduct thorough evaluation of the subject you have chosen. Interpretive-papers

6. Definition research paper

Research papers describe a topic from a factual standpoint. The description that is presented is devoid of emotion or individual opinion. The definition research paper presents facts from a variety of sources. The information derived is left unanalyzed and consists of actual facts found in another researcher’s observations.

A definition paper might come across as difficult to write, especially by those students who prefer elaborating issues from their own perspective. An excellent definition paper can offer valuable information.

You can present this type of research paper in the following way.

  • Decide on an idea or a concept. Pick something that you are familiar with. However, you need to make sure that the topic you choose is multidimensional.
  • Use your research and your own observations to write the definition.
  • Support your statements with adequate evidence and solid references.


You may take a considerable amount of time to grasp the different formats of research papers. As you move ahead in the course of preparing your paper, you will be acquainted with the fundamental differences in these paper types. You will also gain insights on how you can structure the research papers to highlight the research and data you have gathered. With these insights, you can present a research paper irrespective of the complexity of the types. 

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