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What Is The Main Difference Between A Research Paper And A Term Paper?

Understanding the difference between a research paper and a term paper will help you improve your work and, therefore, get a higher grade. Each type of an assignment has its typical characteristics that you should keep in mind in order to meet your professor’s requirements. The following statements explain what special features these assignments have and how they truly differ one from another.

The Main Characteristics of a Research Paper

  • This kind of academic writing involves exploration of the topic idea which aims to answer a particular theoretical question.
  • A typical document consists of 5,000 words, but often it’s a bit longer.
  • The student is asked to interpret information provided on a chosen topic and analyze it thoroughly.
  • It can be assigned anytime, yet most instructors give this task at the beginning of the semester so that students had enough time to gather data and compose their works.
  • This kind of a paper often involves primary data collection and its further interpretation.

The Key Features of a Term Paper

  • A student writes this paper to demonstrate his or her knowledge of a particular subject studied in class.
  • The length of the work usually varies from 3,000 to 5,000 words.
  • A chosen topic should be carefully examined and the writer should provide his or her personal opinion towards the issue under study.
  • This assignment is usually given at the end of the semester and significantly influences the final grade.
  • The term paper should be based on credible sources, such as scholarly articles, academic works, lab reports, and textbooks.

The Differences between These Assignments

Both assignments share plenty of the same qualities. In each instance, students can pick a topic that arouses their interest, they use the same types of sources, and the structures of the documents are quite similar. The real difference between these pieces of academic writing, according to most professors, is that a research paper is assigned at any time and doesn’t generally count toward the final grade.

Another aspect that writing instructors pay their attention to is the fact that a research paper often contains a hypothesis while a term paper rather supports a thesis statement. Besides, the former has a longer list of references. The latter assignment is shorter and doesn’t usually contain appendixes. Either way, to figure out how to prepare a perfect piece of writing, you may consult your professor, visit a school’s writing center, or search for assistance on the Web.