Different Types of Research Papers : Definitions and Classification

different types of research papers
different types of research papers

Before starting to write a research paper or learning what types of research papers there are, we must understand what a research is and how it is conducted. Click on our article to know more – What is Research? Research Methods vs Research Methodology, Research Methods vs Research Techniques

Before we get into different types of research papers, let’s look at what a research paper is:

  • A research paper presents facts, data, and information to support a specific idea or theory propounded by the author.
  • The aim of a well-written research paper, unless it is argumentative or persuasive in nature, is to present the unbiased truth, not to defend the author’s opinion.
  • It does not use emotional persuasion. Its vocabulary is free from superlatives and emotional language and does not reveal the author’s biases.

What a Research Paper Is Not

  • A research paper is not merely a knowledgeable synopsis of a topic based upon primary and secondary sources.
  • It is not an opinion piece, a book report, or a summary of the topic under consideration.
  • It is also not an unthinking regurgitation of what others have to say about a topic. 

Choosing the Right Kind of Research Paper

What types of research papers a student chooses to write depends on the topic, the research methodology, and the manner in which data is analyzed. Deciding what type of research paper to write helps students establish objectives to guide them in their writing and research.

Also read – What is the Objective of a Research, Motivation of a Research and Criteria for a Good Research

Different Types of Research Papers

There are eight different types of research papers:

  1. Analytical research paper
  2. Argumentative research paper
  3. Cause and effect research paper
  4. Compare and contrast research paper
  5. Definition research paper
  6. Experimental research paper
  7. Interpretive research paper
  8. Survey research paper

Let us understand each type of research paper in detail.

1. Analytical Research Paper

what is analytical research paper
what is analytical research paper

An analytical research paper is the first of many different types of research papers. while writing an analytical paper, the researcher asks a question, collects relevant data from a variety of sources, and analyzes it. The findings, viewpoints, and conclusions presented in the source material are closely examined before proposing a unique interpretation and perspective on the topic. An analytical paper generally ends with a summary of the findings and suggests a framework for further study on the topic. While writing this type of paper, the researcher is expected to be completely objective and neutral and avoid injecting their own opinions and biases into the paper. 

Sample topics for an analytical research paper:

  • The effect of social media
  • Avoiding cultural dominance in multicultural families
  • IoT use in Agriculture

2. Argumentative Research Paper

what is argumentative research paper
what is argumentative research paper

An argumentative research paper usually focuses on a controversial topic and presents both sides of the argument. This type of research paper includes in-text citations from sources that present logical facts from both sides of the fence and concludes with the author analyzing the merits and demerits 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. It is one of the more unique one among the different types of research papers.

Sample topics for an argumentative research paper:

  • Is politics the leading cause of war?
  • Does the death penalty lower crime rates?
  • Should working mothers be given special privileges?

Read to learn about different types of research – Research Types – Qualitative vs Quantitative Research, Applied vs Fundamental Research, Conceptual vs Empirical Research

3. Cause and Effect Research Paper

what is cause and effect research paper
what is cause and effect research paper

They trace probable or expected results from a specific action and answer the main questions “Why?” and “What?”, which reflect effects and causes. In business and education fields, cause and effect papers will help trace a range of results that could arise from a particular action or situation. Cause and effect papers generally follow a simple formula:

Describe situation → Present causes and effects → Draw conclusions

Sample topics for a cause and effect research paper:

  • Effects of pollution on the environment
  • Why do people have eating disorders?
  • What are the causes of homelessness?

4. Compare and Contrast Research Paper

what is compare and contrast research paper
what is compare and contrast research paper

Compare and contrast research papers examine the differences between two opposing points of view, subjects, writers, or theories. They are often used in literature courses to compare two authors or stories belonging to the same genre. They are also used to compare different theoretical viewpoints in the social sciences, various leadership styles in business studies, and differing philosophical frameworks in philosophy. The subjects of a compare and contrast paper are generally described or explained in brief; the paper largely focuses on providing compare and contrast examples that support the author’s thesis. It is a very popular research paper among the many types of research papers.

Sample topics for a compare and contrast research paper:

  • Attending school vs. remote learning
  • Similarities and differences between psychosis and antisocial disorder
  • American football vs. basketball

5. Definition Research Paper

what is definition research paper
what is definition research paper

A definition research paper describes a topic in a factual manner, devoid of emotions or personal opinions. Its only purpose is to provide information. While the facts or arguments presented in a definition paper may be culled from a variety of sources, they are not subjected to analysis and/or interpretation.

Sample topics for a definition research paper:

  • Explain global warming.
  • What is dictatorship?

6. Experimental Research Paper

what is experimental research paper
what is experimental research paper

Among the different types of research papers, an experimental research paper presents a detailed description of an experiment and its findings. Experimental papers are common in scientific areas like chemistry, biology, and physics. They seek to explain a certain outcome or phenomenon with the help of evidence and analysis.

Sample topics for an experimental research paper:

  • Emotion detection by a robot
  • Methods to reduce carbon emissions in industrial areas
  • The role of bioreactors in biotechnology

Also read – How to Collect Data for Thesis and Research Paper

7. Interpretive Research Paper

what is interpretive research paper
what is interpretive research paper

Interpretive research 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 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.

Sample topics for an interpretive research paper:

  • The little emperor syndrome: potential complications
  • The effect of marijuana on a fetus
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of domestic violence

8. Survey Research Paper

what is survey research research paper
what is survey research research paper

Survey research research paper demands the conduction of a survey that includes asking questions to respondents. The conductor of the survey then collects all the information from the survey and analyzes it to present it in the research paper.

Sample topic for a survey research paper: The usage of Internet in the society

Those were the primary types of research papers. If you have any questions feel free to comment below and don’t forget to share the knowledge.

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