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A Look At The Thin Line Between Thesis, Dissertation And Research Paper

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 Alice Smith  Published On Jan 23,2018 | Updated on Sep 06,2022  Academic Service

A Look At The Thin Line Between Thesis, Dissertation And Research Paper

Singapore has raised its standards of a global education hub within the past few years. The education system in Singapore has been the model for the western countries. There are numerous schools and colleges along with universities that have announced their presence through their study courses and how they contribute to shaping a person's future.

Focusing on the institutes of higher education, there are six autonomous universities present in Singapore along with quite a number of private universities. Most of them have made their positions as being one of the best places for study upgrading themselves with more courses fit for the present time as the science, commerce and Arts subjects branch more and more and specialize into a single subject having their degrees.


A look back into the past decade will show how the number of courses in a single institute has increased at an alarming rate owing to the demand for the jobs that are being created. Along with the change and revision in courses, thesis, dissertations and research paper have become the common terms on the lips of the students as they struggle to find the time and write the paper hardly understanding what it is.


Simply speaking, thesis, dissertations and research paper are all linked to researching on a certain topic, but they have their differences. The major difference is that the title depends on the universities and the academic level. A thesis can exist at the Master’s level at one university and can be called a dissertation at another university. Whatever it is, the basic difference lies in the structure and content of the paper.


In a nutshell, these papers are required to be submitted by a student at a graduate school or when someone is pursuing the doctorate. It must be kept as a note that the terms ‘thesis’ and ‘dissertation’ are highly interchangeable. Let us see what these three documents are all about.


Introducing a thesis…


A thesis is a document that needs to be submitted by the students which documents the person’s findings of his/her research. A thesis is submitted to support an academic degree or sometimes to get a professional qualification. A thesis can also be said as an essay in a long form.


You can have an honors thesis as well a master's thesis. An honors thesis will have about 15000 words whereas a master's thesis will have about 30,000. 


Introducing a dissertation…


A dissertation is written to get a doctoral degree where the paper is longer than a thesis. There are two types of dissertation. One is an empirical dissertation, and the other one is a non-empirical dissertation. Empirical dissertations are based on data collection while the non-empirical one is based on data and arguments.


The point where students get confused is about the research and presentation. A thesis and a dissertation are quite different though both needs research to be done at a good level. Thesis actually just gives a hypothesis where evidence is given in support of the statement. However, a dissertation being longer than a thesis is a thesis within itself for it not only states the hypothesis but also proves it. Hence you need to give a proof to call the paper as a dissertation. One must take note here that evidence refers to all the data and information that is used in the document in support of the hypothesis. However, proof refers to the critical analysis and presentation.


Let us have a more intense look at the differences, and you will get a clear idea about each of these two papers


The prime difference is that since a thesis is short in length, it takes a lot less time than a dissertation to be completed. A dissertation in general in lengthy as said before about three times more than a thesis and hence takes a lot more time, sometimes years in case of PhD to be completed. When you are writing a thesis, all you need to do is collect supporting information. It is just that the collected information needs to authentic and correct as per the topic. Any of the papers cannot have anything that is unnecessary.


A thesis just has the hypothesis, so it is always not necessary to have all updated information about the recent researches but the scene is entirely different in case of a dissertation. You need to know everything and be updated about the latest developments made in the subject for you need to mention them in the conclusion.


Sometimes a thesis is written to get a scholarship, but it is not so in case of a dissertation. A thesis can also be stated as an academic research paper, but a dissertation can be referred to an academic book where there are several chapters. The dissertation has original research work that needs to be shown in the paper, but a thesis is an analysis of the already researched contents.


What is more is that the work of a dissertation adds new knowledge to the field of study which the students can utilize later to study. But a thesis adds no such knowledge to any field of study. In fact, the students just need to prove the primary idea with the support of previously researched documents.


Coming to the next difference is that the structure and ways of writing of both the papers. For a thesis, you will never get someone who will guide you through the process of doing the paper. But in a dissertation, you will have your supervisor to guide you through the entire term while you are doing the paper. A dissertation needs a proposal to be passed by the university committee. But in a thesis, there are no such rules. Just like the dissertation proposal is important to a student to proceed with the dissertation, for the thesis, the thesis statement is very important.


A dissertation proposal is a very important document itself. It shows what a student wants to do the research on and write about and whether at all it will add valuable knowledge to the society.


Structurally, the two papers have a good difference. Though there are few sub-heads which are similar but it is in the main body where the difference lies.

The following is a general structure of a dissertation.


  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents page(s)
  • Introduction
  • Materials and methods or Literature review
  • Results or Sources and methods
  • Discussion or Findings
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Appendices


The following is a basic structure for thesis writing.


  • Title page
  • Declaration page
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Summary
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Symbols
  • Main body of thesis
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices


However, it is always to be noted that both thesis and dissertation have their own norms in different universities. They vary from university to university and from course to course. Students must always go through the guidelines of the university before starting to write one. Since both the tasks are complicated ones, it is always better to be sure of the structure and the process of proceeding with the paper and starting to do it.


Introducing a research paper…


A research paper is quite a simple one. It is just a piece of writing that is academic and done to fulfill the requirements of the semester or the module. Independent research is required, and the students have to write down the findings. A research paper is pivoted on a central argument. The paper must have each of the points in details that the students want to address. Moreover, a research paper is an original piece where authentic research is done, and findings are put down. This is not a work of copy and hence always plagiarism-free.

We have read what a thesis is. The difference between a thesis and research paper is that the former one is a part of the latter one and under no conditions in interchangeable.


The structure of a research paper is very simple.

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Manuscript body
  • References
  • Acknowledgements


There are certain differences between a thesis and a research paper. In a research paper, the students must mention in the statement the methodology used, i.e. whether they have used qualitative methods or quantitative methods. This is not in the case of a thesis. In a thesis statement, you never mention the methods used. Moreover, a thesis statement is a complete thing in itself. A research statement has open-ended questions where there is an inquiry. A thesis statement has just one question according to the rules. But a research paper has more than one question that is related to the central argument.


The steps for writing the three types of papers are nearly the same, but the difference lies in the ways the study is done. Students must be very careful while doing these papers as a lot of information is generated while doing the research for all the papers. It must be kept in mind to sort data precise according to the demands of the paper. Unlike a dissertation requiring a dissertation proposal, a research paper has no such needs.  A research paper is smaller than a dissertation but the time that is required to do the research paper depends on the number of questions of the central argument. Moreover, a research paper addresses more than one question which a thesis or a dissertation paper does not answer.


To sum up, in understanding the thin line, there are many arguments that are placed for and against the papers. In Singapore, different universities whether autonomous or private, they have their rules on which document to call a thesis, which to call a dissertation and which to call a research paper. Some universities have formed their own rules and regulations while some have copied others. Hence, it is impossible to very distinctively say, rather describe what a thesis, dissertation or research paper is. But in general, the points mentioned above for each of the categories will give the students a general idea of what the documents are all about.


Facing problems to understand the norms of the Singapore universities while writing your dissertation? Thesis writing taking up your study time? resolves every writing problem with the best available solution


We at try our best to give our best to the students to aid in their writing. Writing a thesis, dissertation or a research paper or anything that includes research is quite tough and complicated. We take the responsibility to solve these complicated tasks with care and concern. Once that your paper is with us you can stop worrying about it. We promise that your thesis, dissertation and research papers will reach you on time.


Wasting time thinking whether or not to get help? Well, time is very valuable to every person and once wasted you cannot get it back. Hence we say to get in touch with us as soon as possible and order your thesis, dissertation or research paper. We provide papers on other assignments like case studies, homework, term papers etc. Drop a mail at stating your queries. You can also fill up a form available on our site to contact us. We guarantee you an immediate response.

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