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5 Major Research Paper Formats Every Student Should Know About

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 Alice Smith  Published On Apr 16,2019 | Updated on Sep 06,2022  General

5 Major Research Paper Formats Every Student Should Know About

In today’s competitive world, a person with more information has the edge over his competitors. The academic field is no different. A student needs to be more informed than his peers if he wants to stay ahead of the curve. Some students have a fair amount of idea about a research paper. However, a majority of them aren’t aware of the different types of research papers that exist. This blog explores some of the most common types of research papers in academics. Who knows? The information you are about to read may just help you boost your academic performance.

It is important to acknowledge that there are 5+ types of research paper formats used by students, scholars, and researchers. However, most academic institutes around the world work with these 5 types of research papers only – argumentative, analytical, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and interpretative. 

1. Argumentative Research Paper:

Generally, an argumentative research paper requires you to make an argument and provide significant evidence to support it. It is quite similar to an argumentative essay, but you need to develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic through in-depth research. Also, you need to address the counterarguments as well, and let the readers know why your claim is more valid.

A typical structure of an argumentative research paper looks like this:

Try to comply with these suggestions while drafting an argumentative paper:

  • Refrain from using overly emotional language.
  • Always use genuine evidence to support your claim.
  • Don’t belittle the opposing views. Instead, try to explain why your argument is more valid.
  • Do not forget to cite all the sources in your paper. Use footnotes if needed.
  • Be prepared to deliver a strong rebuttal to support your point of view.

Note: Choosing a topic for an argumentative research paper can be tricky. Invest significant time to choose a good topic for the paper.

2. Analytical Research Paper:

An analytical research paper requires you to analyze different points of view from multiple sources on a particular topic. You do not have an obligation to prove that your argument is valid and others are wrong. The primary objective of this task is to present different opinions on the chosen topic and to draw logical conclusions. You need to evaluate the works of others on a particular topic without taking any side.

Let’s say you have chosen the topic – The impact of smartphones on teenagers in Singapore. To write an analytical research paper on it, you need to conduct thorough research to find existing materials on the topic. Once you have gathered enough data regarding the topic, you need to analyse them and draw an inference from them. You cannot express your opinion about smartphone usage in the paper.

 An analytical research paper generally follows the outline below

Things you should remember while drafting an analytical research paper:

  • Do not include your own opinion.
  • Try to find up to date research materials on your topic.
  • Always consider credible sources of information.
  • Cite all the sources in the paper.
  • Include quotes from reputed personalities.

3.  Compare and Contrast Research Paper:

A compare and contrast research paper generally examines two or more subjects by comparing their similarities and differences. The subjects chosen for a compare and contrast research paper generally belong to the same category. However, there are some discernible elements in those subjects. For instance, living on campus vs. living at home is a good example of a compare and contrast research topic.

The typical structure of a compare and contrast research paper resembles the following structure

Remember these suggestions while drafting a compare and contrast research paper:

  • Always provide genuine evidence to support your claim in the research paper.
  • Don’t stress on the points that everyone already knows. Perform in-depth research to find interesting data on the chosen subjects.
  • Cite the sources of information used in the paper.
  • Offer examples wherever you can.
  • Comply with the general academic requirements.

4. Cause and Effect Research Paper:

A cause and effect research paper generally follows an action, event or decision, and analyses its reasons and consequences. While writing a cause and effect paper, you need to track the logical progression of an action to offer the readers a clear understanding of the cause and effects related to it.

A cause and effect research paper generally follows either of the two outlines:

  1. The chain structure: You need to describe every cause, immediately followed by the corresponding effects.
  2. The block structure: You need to outline the causes first. Then you discuss the corresponding effects.

Remember these following tips to produce an impressive cause and effect research paper.

  • Gather significant evidence to support your claims.
  • Always proceed with a goal in your mind.
  • Focus on making better transitions while moving from one paragraph to the other.
  • Use genuine data to establish your point.

Note: This type of research identifies different results depending on the specific conditions.

5. Interpretive Research Paper:

Interpretive research is based on the assumption that social reality is not singular or objective, but is rather shaped by human experiences and social contexts. This type of research generally focuses on identifying, documenting and knowing through the interpretation of worldviews, values, meanings, beliefs, thoughts, and the general characteristics of certain situations.

Interpretive research looks into the meaning of actions that occur, both in the wider society surrounding the immediate scene of action and in face-to-face interactions. You need to write your paper based on an established theoretical framework and use supporting data to back up the findings of the paper. An interpretive research paper generally complies with the following outline.

While writing an interpretive research paper, keep these following things in mind:

  • Always support your claim with genuine evidence.
  • Adhere to the instructions given by your professor.
  • Address other interpretations of the topic to make your paper look more objective.
  • Perform proper citations of the sources as per the instructed citation style. 

As you may have noticed, there are some basic structural differences among all the aforementioned types of research papers. Moreover, you also need different approaches to solve each of these research paper formats. Now that you have a decent amount of idea about the most common forms of research papers, you can have the upper hand in research paper writing the next time onwards. 

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