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Difference Between Essay and Research Paper

If asked what is the difference between an essay and research paper you would probably say something like “one is shorter and easier, and another one is longer and more complex.” You would be right, but this description covers hardly 20% of the differences between these two academic papers. Here, we want to show you a more complex approach to the matter — checking the similarities and differences from the different angles. Let’s begin!

Essay vs Research paper: Major Differences

Why is it so important to understand the difference between research paper and essay? And isn’t the difference too obvious to write articles about? The problem is, many students write research papers as if they are just a little longer essays, adding some vague methodology at best. Writing a research paper is a complex process that differs greatly from writing an essay. Here are some differences you need to keep in mind in order to succeed.


  • Essay. Compared to research papers, term papers, dissertations and even case studies, an essay is not the most complex paper you will write in your college and university years. However, you should not dismiss its complexity, as it still requires some research and quality writing.
  • Research paper. It is much more complex than essays first of all because it requires in-depth research and analysis of the acquired academically relevant sources. 


  • Essay. You can write an acceptable essay in one day if you are in a hurry. Normally, it is better to spend about 3 days on writing a quality essay — one day for research and brainstorming, another day for writing and the third day for proofreading, editing and polishing.
  • Research paper. You may need weeks to deal with it, and sometimes you have several months before the deadline. We know that students like to leave everything to the last minute, but it is a wise move to at least make a plan once you receive this assignment.
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  • Essay. Normally it takes 5 paragraphs — one for the Introduction, three for the Body part and one for the Conclusion. The length of the essay is often defined by its type. However, you will hardly ever need to write an essay longer than 3 pages.
  • Research paper. Normally it takes about 6-10 pages. With all the necessary parts that should form a well-thought-out research paper this volume is not too big. Often students say that they would like to extend the paper, but it doesn’t work this way, you always have limits imposed by your professor.


  • Essay. Essays are less formal. Though they still should be written in some clear academic style, creative approach is more than welcome in recent years. Also, there are many essay types (definition, argumentative, analytical, etc.) and each type requires its own style.
  • Research paper. Rigid academic writing style is the most appropriate when it comes to research paper writing. It is true that recently some changes have been introduced, but they are too minor. 


  • Essay. Often, essay writing focuses on a writer’s experience, feelings, understanding, and vision. You do less research and analytical work, but pay much more attention to your attitude to a particular problem.
  • Research paper. Research paper writing is focused on analyzing what is already known, proven about the subject and presenting it in a proper form. In 90% of cases, the writer’s take is not valid and should not be expressed. 


  • Essay. To present the writer’s take on a matter, to introduce new arguments.
  • Research paper. To present the objective of the research in a comprehensive way, based on in-depth research of valid sources.


  • Essay. Essay writing doesn’t have almost any academic meaning outside your class. However, it has meaning for you. Writing essays you get ready to deal with much more complex papers, including research papers, case studies, dissertations and others. 
  • Research paper. Research papers are often published online and in peer reviewed journals. They both have meaning to students writing them and students reading them. Research paper is not just a training material for dissertation writing, it can be a part of your dissertation later. Students often build their thesis paper research on previous research paper findings and results.
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Of course, there are differences not mentioned in the list. For example, essay writing doesn’t require adding methodology or literature review parts. Writing an essay, you can be much more emotional about the topic and use your experience as an argument. 

Finishing Essays and Research Papers On Time 

We guess, after reading this article you fully understand the difference between essay writing and research paper writing. What makes those assignments similar is that not always you have enough time to deal with them, and not always you want to deal with them yourself. You are not the only one. Students worldwide often choose to delegate some of their academic assignments to professional essay writing services, such as This way they gain some time they can spend on some other activities or points in their to-do lists. It is a known fact that students face many more challenges in life than professors tend to think, and often find themselves snowed under assignments with burning deadlines. The key idea is to stay efficient, and buying essays or research papers online from time to time is one the ways to achieve it. Writers working for such services have proven experience in dealing with the most complex research papers in dozens of disciplines. They can prepare a needed paper three times as fast as you and your peers without compromising on quality. Obviously, it is better to work on your papers without asking for additional assistance, but sometimes, expert help is what you need to get to another level. ˆ


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