Writing a Thesis versus a Research Paper

Two of the biggest pieces of writing one might complete while pursuing their education, might be a research paper, and/or a thesis. These two works both take dedicated time, energy, and focus to complete, and should be taken seriously. But while they are both serious pieces of work, they also have some clear differences, which will become apparent fairly quickly. Here are some key differences between writing a thesis, and writing a research paper.

check mark Scale

Research projects are considerably smaller and in both length and area of focus, than a thesis might be. In terms of literal word count a thesis will generally amount to 25,000 or so words in length, while a research paper can be much shorter, sometimes in the range of 10-15,000 words. Research papers are also looking to answer a specific question, while a thesis presents a larger, broader idea with supporting evidence as a result of individual study.

check mark Focus

The findings and results of a thesis are designed to be a contribution to the field after extensive study. This is opposed to guided, focused research to answer a set question, which aims to fit within the existing realm of knowledge. Both theses and research papers can contribute to new knowledge or understanding, but their methods and background might vary.

check mark Questions

Ultimately, the biggest difference between a research paper and a thesis, will be the usage of an open ended or closed ended question. The most basic premise of an open ended question will be one where “yes” or “no” are not the automatic answer, with supporting evidence. A thesis can be an educated interpretation given evidence, finding ways that new information or newer understandings are to fit within our pre-existing knowledge of a situation.

check mark Time

A thesis is designed to be presented after extensive time spent researching, examining, asking questions, and formulating new data and information to be shared with one’s audience. A research paper is a much more concentrated contribution, which is typically completed over a matter of weeks or a couple months. Many have spent years completing a thesis, working to contribute their knowledge after lengthy, dedicated study.

check mark Application

One of the biggest differences between writing a research paper and writing a thesis, will come down to application. A thesis is expected to be presented as an addition of thought, knowledge, exploration into a new topic or idea, and is generally used to present adequate proof of your knowledge in a general field. A research paper differs, in that it asks and answers specific questions, with clear expectations. There is guided research, and the presentation is much more specific. Research papers might be written at any point during an educational experience, while a thesis is the collection of large amounts of knowledge, presented in a cohesive way.

Large or small, each paper takes time, dedicated focus and attention, and your knowledge and skill will be utilized, regardless of the final form. Best of luck with your writing!

college paper editing

Additional sources

Photo of author

By Bizhan Romani

Dr. Bizhan Romani has a PhD in medical virology. When it comes to writing an article about science and research, he is one of our best writers. He is also an expert in blogging about writing styles, proofreading methods, and literature.

Leave a Comment

Related Posts

What is IMRaD

What Is IMRaD? IMRaD Format in Simple Terms!

You might be reading this article perhaps because you have faced the same question; What is IMRaD? When writing a scientific paper, it is important to follow an appropriate organizational structure. IMRaD is one such organizational format. IMRaD is an acronym, which stands for Introduction, Method, Results, And Discussion. It is an increasingly popular organizational…
What is a journal paper editing service?

What Is a Journal Paper Editing Service?

As a grad student, you may have asked “What is a journal paper editing service?” if you have looked for someone to check your paper before submission. You want to know what you can get from the service. Well then this post is for you. As an author, writer, or student, a journal paper is…
What is a manuscript editing service?

What Is a Manuscript Editing Service?

If you have written a manuscript and now are looking for a manuscript editing service, you may have come across the question “What is a manuscript editing service?” Well then this article is for you. Writing a manuscript is not for the faint-hearted. The endless hours of thinking and writing, developing the story, and fine-tuning…
Benefits of hiring a manuscript editing service

Benefits of Hiring a Manuscript Editing Service

You may have asked yourself “what are the advantages of hiring a manuscript editing service” if you have looked for a manuscript editing service. well then this article is for you. Every year, more than a million research papers are published. As a result, there is a lot of competition for a place in a…
Writing the Introduction - A Clear & Concise Guide 1 | Scientific Editing

Writing the Introduction – A Clear & Concise Guide

The introduction is a guide that carries the attention of the reader from a general subject area to a specific topic of inquiry. It affirms the subject, context and importance of the research being conducted by giving a summary of the background and understanding of the story. The introduction also goes on to state the…