7 Most Common Types of Research Papers

For any student to write an A+ term paper, he/she must first understand the different kinds of research papers and the structure of each. In this article, we’ll discuss what you can expect in seven of the most popular research paper types to facilitate your writing. These are:

  1. Argumentative

An argumentative paper takes a clear position on a controversial topic and backs it up with evidence from reliable sources. Ideally, these source materials have presented logical facts supporting both points of view. And conclude with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each side.

  1. Analytical

An analytical paper analyzes points of view of a particular topic as presented in several sources. However, unlike argumentative research papers, analytical papers do not aim to persuade the reader to agree with the author’s standpoint. Instead, they give an overview of the different opinions presented in various sources and reach a logical, unbiased conclusion.

  1. Definition

The goal of a definition research paper is to inform. For this reason, you present the information you gather from a factual viewpoint. These facts, which you derive from the findings of various sources, are usually left unanalyzed.

  1. Compare and contrast

A compare and contrast research paper briefly describes two elements but mainly compares and contrasts them using examples to support the thesis. These essays are most popular in literature. However, compare and contrast papers can also be assigned in social sciences, philosophy, and business studies.

  1. Cause and effect

A cause and effect paper tracks the expected results of a specified action in a logical approach understandable to the reader. They are particularly common in the education and business fields. If applicable, such papers will also show the range of possible outcomes the specified action or situation could cause.

  1. Reports

The purpose of a report is to describe a case study situation in a memorandum-like format. Reports involve giving an overview of the current situation, identifying the research problem, analyzing the main elements of said problem, and recommending solutions to the research problem. A report will also contain a management summary and supporting evidence in a table, graph, or appendix form.

  1. Interpretive

An interpretive paper is often assigned by teachers/professors in humanities, social science, and literature classes. Students are required to use learned theoretical knowledge in a specified case study. Case studies may include artwork or poetry in literary fields, a psychology case study in psychology or sociology fields, and a business situation in a management course.


The previously mentioned research paper types are just a few of the academic papers you should expect to write while in college. It is, therefore, crucial that you learn to differentiate them. Correctly defining the research paper your professor has assigned you and knowing what it entails can be the difference between a passing or failing grade.

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