Previously, we discussed the issue of what a research paper really is and have come to conclusion that ideally
a research paper is your own thoughts based on your thorough analysis of what you previously knew and what you managed to research about your topic
So what, right? Theoretically, this is the most important thing you should know about academic writing. Practically, this doesn't make our lives easier. But here is one thing that WILL facilitate your writing, guaranteed. Read this carefully:
KNOW WHAT YOU WRITE.
One of the most important elements of an A+ Grade paper is the understanding you the student have of these different research papers types and your ability to write each type of paper according to the expected paper format. While the type of research paper is usually stated in the paper requirement information provided by your tutor, there are times when the paper type will be implied rather than directly stated and this is where an accurate interpretation of the paper requirements is so important to a good passing grade. In the paragraphs below are some hints on what may be expected in seven different research paper types, which are:
- Argumentative papers,
- Analytical papers,
- Definition papers,
- Compare and contrast papers,
- Cause and effect papers,
- Reports, and
- Interpretive papers.
ARGUMENTATIVE PAPERS present two sides of a controversial issue in the one paper. A good argumentative paper will include in-text citations from researchers that present logical facts from both sides of an issue, and will conclude with the author analyzing the pros and cons of each argument. The confusing element of an argumentative paper is that the author is expected to favor one side more than the other on an issue, but the research and analysis must be un-emotive and factual and include both sides of the argument. For example a student may be asked to complete a paper on "The importance of nature and nurture on a child's predicted teenage behavior." The author may believe that either nature or nurture may be more important from their own research on the issue but a good paper on this topic will include information from researchers on both sides of the problem, and even in this case information from researchers that believe both sides are equally important.
ANALYTICAL PAPERS also include information from a range of sources but the focus on this type of research paper is in analyzing the different viewpoints represented from a factual rather than opinionated standpoint. The author of an analytical paper may focus on the findings, methodology or conclusions of other researchers and will conclude such a paper with a summation of the findings and a suggested framework for further study on the issue.
DEFINITION PAPERS are relatively self-explanatory. They describe a topic from a factual standpoint that is usually devoid of emotion or the opinion of the author. Although the definition research paper will include facts from a variety of sources, this information is left unanalyzed and contains only actual facts found in another's research paper findings. While a definition paper might be considered difficult to write especially by those students who enjoy discussing issues from their own perspective a good definition paper can provide a valuable information framework for other argumentative or analytical reports on the same topic.
Compare and contrast papers
COMPARE AND CONTRAST PAPERS are often used in literature courses to compare two different authors, or stories from a particular genre. However they can also be required in social sciences to compare two different theoretical viewpoints; in philosophy to compare the thoughts of two philosophical frameworks and even in business studies where different leadership styles could be compared for example. The important part of a compare and contrast paper is that while both elements in the paper need to be described succinctly, the main part of the paper will be the comparison and contrasting examples provided by the author to support a thesis.
Cause and effect papers
CAUSE AND EFFECT PAPERS trace the probable or expected results from a particular action or policy in a logical progression that is easily followed by the reader. Used in business and education fields in particular a good cause and effect paper will not only outline the predicted results from the action/situation specified, but also where applicable show the range of results that could arise from this one situation through to its logical conclusion.
REPORTS often follow a memorandum or similar business format and they are often written to outline a case study situation. For example a report could be commissioned by your tutor to describe the key issues in a workplace scenario - perhaps from a human resources standpoint. The report would include a summary of the situation to date; an identification of the main issue or concern; a breakdown of the elements of this main issue and then recommendations on how to address the issue based on research on the topic. While a comparison essay for example will use "If…but" or similar statements, the report will c
ontain short factual sentences devoid of emotion. Reports usually include an executive summary that takes the place of an abstract in this type of research paper, as well as supporting evidence in the form of appendix, graphs and tables.
INTERPRETIVE PAPERS are often required by tutors in literature, humanities and social sciences and they require the student to use the theoretical knowledge gained in a course of study to a particular case study example such as a piece of art or a poem in literary fields; a business situation in a management course; or a psychological case profile in either sociology or psychology fields. The key element of an interpretive paper is evidence that the student has written the paper based on an established theoretical framework and has used supporting data to back up the thesis statement and findings of the paper.
The variety of formats and genres for research papers can appear a bit daunting at first glance but as you work through this course you will come to understand the fundamental differences in these paper types, and how you can structure your research papers to best showcase the expert information you have acquired through your course of learning. As most university grade courses include up to 80% of their marking component on comprehensive answer (read 'correct usage of a research paper type'), it is really important that you correctly define what type of paper you are to write and what you need to include in it. In my next lesson, I will give you specific templates for ALL types of papers you will need. With these templates, you will be able to write research papers of any type without an effort. I hope your participation in this course can realistically help you achieve the A+ grade you want to graduate with.
Apart from the above-mentioned 7 types of papers you are to write while in college, there are 30+ more types of academic papers you should know about. I'll talk about them in later posts.
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Analytical vs. Argumentative Research Papers
When writing a research paper, you have the choice of two main approaches: analytical and argumentative. Sometimes your research assignment may specify which approach you should use, but sometimes the decision on how to approach your topic rests on your shoulders. The scope and purpose of your paper determines which approach is more suited to your topic.
While there are distinct differences between writing an analytical research paper and writing an argumentative research paper, there are some common principles as well:
- Logical thinking is necessary.
- Smart evaluation of information fuels what is included.
- Comprehensive research of source material is conducted.
The major difference between the two research paper types is made in the process of writing, or presenting the topic. Analytical papers create a balanced, neutral approach to presenting a snapshot of an overall topic from which you draw conclusions, and argumentative papers create a debate between differing sides with a logical argument that favors one side of an argument over another.
The analytical research paper
Forming a research question is the basis of an analytical research paper. The question is neutral and provides direction for you to evaluate and explore the topic as it relates to answering the question. Your thesis statement presents the research question, and the remainder of your paper supports your thesis.
This type of research paper is not a simple regurgitation of information. Instead, it is your thoughts, conclusions and evaluations of a topic that is backed up with logical information. Several things are vital in formulating an analytical research paper:
- You answer the research questions objectively.
- You have no preconceived notions or opinions about the topic.
- You evaluate the topic and draw conclusions from factual information from reliable sources.
- You piece findings together to present the purpose of the paper.
- You use serious contemplation and a critical evaluation to answer the research question.
The argumentative research paper
Taking one side of an issue or topic is the central point of an argumentative research paper. Your stance is built into the thesis statement, which makes the argument you feel is more logical for the given topic. The biggest goal of this type of paper is to convince your readers to agree with your point of view by backing up your position with a logical argument supported by facts and information from credible sources.
An argumentative research paper does not simply demand readers agree with you based solely on your opinion. Instead, careful and structured research is used to demonstrate the viability of your argument by providing information that allows readers to draw the same logical conclusion. There are several things that are crucial in writing this type of paper:
- You use logical persuasion to build your argument in order to convince readers.
- You clearly state your argument or stance in the thesis statement.
- You introduce the topic sufficiently before taking a stance.
- You use credible sources to back up your position and include information about the opposing view.
- You use critical evaluation to create a logical argument.
Regardless of which research paper type you are undertaking, the backbone of writing a great paper starts with conducting thorough and structured research, using effective note-taking strategies and forming a strong thesis statement. While the thesis statement you start with may evolve as you write your paper, an analytical research paper has a more fluid thesis than an argumentative one; the thesis statement may undergo more changes as you begin outlining, writing a rough draft or finalizing your paper.
As you work through the organization process of writing a research paper, stay aware of which approach your topic requires to stay focused on the right aspects of the topic. If you are writing with an analytical approach, use an objective and logical presentation of facts to answer your research question. If you are writing with an argumentative approach, use logical thinking and an accurate representation of both sides of an issue while persuading your audience to reach the same conclusions you do.