What is the Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

The main difference between thesis and research paper is that thesis is a long academic paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree, while research paper is a piece of academic writing on a particular topic.

In brief, both thesis and research paper are types of academic writing students need to complete in their academic life. While there are many similarities between the two, including the use of academic writing and structure, they are not the same. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is a Thesis 
     – Definition, Features
2. What is a Research Paper
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Thesis, Research PaperDifference Between Thesis and Research Paper - Comparison Summary

What is a Thesis

A thesis is a long paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree. Submitting a thesis is generally required for completing undergraduate honours, masters, and doctoral degrees. The theses are very long and may contain hundreds of pages. They are also scholarly in nature and allows students to contribute valuable research in their field of study.

Moreover, a major part of a thesis work involves research and writing. It generally has advanced research design and analysis. When writing a thesis, the students will have to prove or disapprove a hypothesis, and their conclusions have to be backed by extensive research and an insightful, learned description of how they got to that conclusion. In some degree programs, students also have to perform an oral defence of the thesis paper in front of a panel of experts.

Components of a Thesis

These are the components you will usually find in a thesis paper.

  • Title Page                       
  • Abstract           
  • Table of Contents           
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables           
  • Introduction           
  • Methods           
  • Results
  • Discussion             
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations           
  • Acknowledgements
  • References             
  • Appendices

What is a Research Paper

A research paper is a type of academic writing that involves research, source evaluation, critical thinking, organization, and composition. Moreover, through a research paper, students can explore, interpret, and evaluate sources related to a particular topic. In fact, primary and secondary sources are very important components of a research paper. But it’s important to note that a research paper is not just a summary of a topic using primary and secondary sources. It’s not just an opinion essay or an expository essay that contains the writer’s opinions and views, either. A research paper is a type of writing that requires evaluating different sources and interpreting the information of these sources through one’s own lens. Furthermore, the main purpose of this type of writing is to offer a unique perspective on a topic analyzing and evaluating what others have already said about it.

Thesis vs Research Paper

In addition, there are different types of research papers. Argumentative research papers and analytical research papers are two of the main types of research papers.

Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

Definition

A thesis or dissertation is a long academic paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree while a research paper is a type of academic writing that involves research, source evaluation, critical thinking, organization, and composition.

In an Academic Context

In an academic context, students may be required to write research papers for assignments and homework, but a thesis is usually the final project.

Length

A thesis tends to be longer than a research paper; in fact, a thesis can take many months, sometimes years, to complete.

Supervision

The thesis is written under the supervision of one or more academic supervisors whereas research papers usually do not have supervisors.

Purpose

Students have to complete a thesis in order to complete their degree, whereas students write research papers to expand their knowledge.

Conclusion

In brief, the main difference between thesis and research paper is that thesis is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree, while a research paper is a piece of academic writing on a particular topic. Moreover, in an academic context, students may be required to write research papers for assignments and homework. But the thesis is usually the final project.

Reference:

1. Stute, Martin. “How to Write Your Thesis.” Columbia University.
2. “Genre and the Research Paper .” Purdue Writing Lab.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Research Paper(CC BY-SA 3.0) By Nick Youngson via Alpha Stock Images 

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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