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Thesis vs. Research Paper: Know the Differences

It is not uncommon for individuals, academic and nonacademic to use “thesis” and “research paper” interchangeably. However, while the thesis vs. research paper puzzle might seem amusing to some, for graduate, postgraduate and doctoral students, knowing the differences between the two is crucial. Not only does a clear demarcation of the two terms help you acquire a precise approach toward writing each of them, but it also helps you keep in mind the subtle nuances that go into creating the two documents. This brief guide discusses the main difference between a thesis and a research paper.

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

This article discusses the main difference between a thesis and a research paper. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.

It is not uncommon for individuals, academic and nonacademic to use “thesis” and “research paper” interchangeably. After all, both terms share the same domain, academic writing . Moreover, characteristics like the writing style, tone, and structure of a thesis and research paper are also homogenous to a certain degree. Hence, it is not surprising that many people mistake one for the other.

However, while the thesis vs. research paper puzzle might seem amusing to some, for graduate, postgraduate and doctoral students, knowing the differences between the two is crucial. Not only does a clear demarcation of the two terms help you acquire a precise approach toward writing each of them, but it also helps you keep in mind the subtle nuances that go into creating the two documents.

Defining the two terms: thesis vs. research paper

The first step to discerning between a thesis and research paper is to know what they signify.

  Thesis: A thesis or a dissertation is an academic document that a candidate writes to acquire a university degree or similar qualification. Students typically submit a thesis at the end of their final academic term. It generally consists of putting forward an argument and backing it up with individual research and existing data.

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Research Paper: A research paper is also an academic document, albeit shorter compared to a thesis. It consists of conducting independent and extensive research on a topic and compiling the data in a structured and comprehensible form. A research paper demonstrates a student's academic prowess in their field of study along with strong analytical skills.

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Now that we have a fundamental understanding of a thesis and a research paper, it is time to dig deeper. To the untrained eye, a research paper and a thesis might seem similar. However, there are some differences, concrete and subtle, that set the two apart.

1. Writing objectives

The objective behind writing a thesis is to obtain a master's degree or doctorate and the ilk. Hence, it needs to exemplify the scope of your knowledge in your study field. That is why choosing an intriguing thesis topic and putting forward your arguments convincingly in favor of it is crucial.

A research paper is written as a part of a course's curriculum or written for publication in a peer-review journal. Its purpose is to contribute something new to the knowledge base of its topic.

2. Structure

Although both documents share quite a few similarities in their structures, the framework of a thesis is more rigid. Also, almost every university has its proprietary guidelines set out for thesis writing.

Comparatively, a research paper only needs to keep the IMRAD format consistent throughout its length. When planning to publish your research paper in a peer-review journal, you also must follow your target journal guidelines.

3. Time Taken

A thesis is an extensive document encompassing the entire duration of a master's or doctoral course and as such, it takes months and even years to write.

A research paper, being less lengthy, typically takes a few weeks or a few months to complete.

4. Supervision

Writing a thesis entails working with a faculty supervisor to ensure that you are on the right track. However, a research paper is more of a solo project and rarely needs a dedicated supervisor to oversee.

5. Finalization

The final stage of thesis completion is a viva voce examination and a thesis defense. It includes proffering your thesis to the examination board or a thesis committee for a questionnaire and related discussions. Whether or not you will receive a degree depends on the result of this examination and the defense.

A research paper is said to be complete when you finalize a draft, check it for plagiarism, and proofread for any language and contextual errors . Now all that's left is to submit it to the assigned authority.

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In the context of academic writing, a thesis and a research paper might appear the same. But, there are some fundamental differences that set apart the two writing formats. However, since both the documents come under the scope of academic writing, they also share some similarities. Both require formal language, formal tone, factually correct information & proper citations. Also, editing and proofreading are a must for both. Editing and Proofreading ensure that your document is properly formatted and devoid of all grammatical & contextual errors. So, the next time when you come across a thesis vs. research paper argument, keep these differences in mind.

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Best Edit & Proof expert editors and proofreaders focus on offering papers with proper tone, content, and style of  academic writing,  and also provide an upscale  editing and proofreading service  for you. If you consider our pieces of advice, you will witness a notable increase in the chance for your research manuscript to be accepted by the publishers. We work together as an academic writing style guide by bestowing subject-area editing and proofreading around several categorized writing styles. With the group of our expert editors, you will always find us all set to help you identify the tone and style that your manuscript needs to get a nod from the publishers.

Thesis vs. Research Paper

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You can also avail of our assistance if you are looking for editors who can format your manuscript, or just check on the  particular styles  for the formatting task as per the guidelines provided to you, e.g.,  APA,  MLA, or Chicago/Turabian styles. Best Edit & Proof editors and proofreaders provide all sorts of academic writing help, including editing and proofreading services, using our user-friendly website, and a streamlined ordering process.

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Research Paper vs Thesis: What’s the Difference?

When considering the differences between a research paper and a thesis, it is important to understand that both documents are typically used as part of an academic degree program. While the two may be similar in some aspects, there exist several key distinctions between them which should be taken into account when deciding upon which type of document to pursue. This article will explore those points of difference and explain how each document serves its purpose within academia.

1. Introduction to Research Paper vs Thesis

2. similarities between a research paper and a thesis, 3. differences between a research paper and a thesis, 4. structural components of the two documents, 5. purpose, audience and objectives for writing each document type, 6. preparing to write – planning considerations for both types of projects, 7. conclusion: benefits of knowing the difference between research papers & theses.

When it comes to academic writing, research paper and thesis can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Despite their similarities, they have several distinct differences that make them unique entities.

  • It is a piece of scholarly work or an in-depth analysis on a specific topic.
  • It requires thorough background knowledge and review existing literature related to the subject area.
  • Its aim is usually to contribute something new or fill gaps in existing knowledge about the topic.

This type of writing involves greater depth and range than other academic papers require. . It often reflects original thinking with theories tested against available data. . The author has control over what direction he takes his research since there are no limitations set by faculty members when conducting research for this project. .

Both types involve significant amounts of effort and dedication but differ vastly from one another in terms of structure, scope and approach. Therefore while both Research Papers & Theses share some common features – such as being required written works for higher education purposes – they are different documents involving different styles, goals, lengths, formats & approaches which should not be confused with each other.

The are numerous. Both require extensive reading, thought-provoking analysis, and the ability to put together an argument for one’s ideas. They both also involve making claims that have been backed up by evidence.

Both documents share similar structures when it comes to presentation of facts and arguments in support of their main point; each should include an introduction section with background information about the topic being discussed, followed by body paragraphs providing evidence or details related to the main idea. Finally, they end with a conclusion summarizing key points from throughout the document.

Each type of project requires lengthy written work; research papers often range from 10-20 pages while longer thesis projects can reach 100 pages or more! Additionally, length requirements may differ depending on subject area or professor instructions – but generally speaking they’re expected to be comprehensive enough for readers who aren’t familiar with any given topic ahead of time.

Thesis and research paper are two different entities, as they differ in terms of their purpose, structure and content. These differences must be noted by students looking to embark on an academic writing journey.

A thesis typically marks the end of a degree program or course, while a research paper is mainly written for the development of knowledge within an area. A thesis requires independent work which should contribute new findings to its respective field; whereas a research paper explores existing theories or ideas more deeply to reach new conclusions.

Theses are generally longer than papers due to thoroughness required in addressing its subject matter but tend to have fewer sections compared with that of conventional scholarly articles; including introductory parts such as abstracts, table contents etc., followed by literature review section which serves as background information before working towards conclusion made from results obtained from experiments conducted throughout its tenure. On the other hand, Research papers require much heavier structuring than that required for theses so usually include multiple headings under each chapter along with transition statements between them – thus making it easier for readers’ comprehension during reading process (Is Research Paper And Thesis Same?, nd) .

In conclusion then it can be said that both types of documents provide rich source material within their respective areas yet cannot quite be referred using same set parameters due to difference in scope available when studying topic at length

The structure of a research paper and thesis differs in many aspects, but at their core they both follow the same general layout. To begin with, each one contains an introduction , which provides context for what follows; this is followed by background information on the topic being explored. The main body then presents all relevant research findings and conclusions while summarizing arguments to support them. Finally, there is a conclusion that reflects upon all discussed material and makes any necessary recommendations or reflections about it.

A key point of differentiation between these two documents lies in their respective objectives. A research paper usually seeks to analyze specific topics within a larger field such as science or sociology; meanwhile, a thesis typically focuses on generating new knowledge through original inquiry – often involving empirical investigation – rather than offering syntheses or summaries of existing literature alone. In addition, while most papers are not as long-form as theses can be (some running up to hundreds of pages), both must adhere to appropriate formatting guidelines along with rigorous methodological requirements established by academic institutions globally. So despite having several structural similarities, these two forms do differ significantly when examined more closely – though whether one is considered ‘better’ will depend upon its individual purpose!

When it comes to documents, each type of writing has its own purpose and objectives. It is essential to understand what they are in order for your writings to be successful.

  • Research Papers:

A research paper requires the student or researcher’s ability to delve into a particular topic and explore all aspects related to it. Through conducting extensive research, one should present their findings in an organized manner with proper citations. Research papers typically require clear evidence backed up by facts as well as accurate references from reliable sources. The main objective of a research paper is not only providing relevant data but also encouraging readers’ further investigation on the subject matter.

Though similar in many ways, there is a distinct difference between a thesis and a research paper – namely that while researching papers do not necessarily need the writer’s original input; this expectation exists when completing any kind of thesis work. Herein lies the primary goal – students must prove their knowledge through analysis beyond just summarizing information found elsewhere i.e., coming up with fresh ideas which may go against accepted wisdom pertaining to chosen topics/themes etc.. Alongside quality content-based material, style plays an important role too– specifically citing source materials properly throughout (including footnotes). A thorough conclusion helps complete said project with panache!

When it comes to writing either a research paper or thesis, there are several planning considerations that should be taken into account.

  • Research Paper:
  • Create an outline of the topics you want to cover.
  • Conduct in depth research on each topic by consulting reliable sources such as journal articles and books.

With the distinction between research papers and theses made clear, it is evident that there are a few distinct benefits to knowing this difference. Firstly, understanding these differences will help students better understand what type of paper their professor or teacher expects them from them. Knowing whether a student needs to write an essay for class or complete a thesis for their degree , they can focus on completing tasks in an organized manner and adhere to expectations without confusion.

  • Is Research Paper And Thesis The Same?

No – while both are academic documents, research papers and theses differ in format, structure, purpose and length. Research papers provide results obtained from sources such as books, articles etc., while theses examine existing knowledge about certain topics with original ideas presented by the author.

To conclude, it is clear that there are many differences between a research paper and a thesis. Both serve different purposes in the academic world; however, both require thorough research and analysis of data to be successful. Ultimately, whether one chooses to write a research paper or pursue an independent study for their degree ultimately depends on the individual student’s goals and resources available at their institution. However, with careful consideration given to each type of project’s unique requirements and constraints, any serious researcher can come away with new knowledge gained from either assignment.

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Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper: Unraveling the Distinction in 2023

Are you puzzled in the difference between Thesis and Research Paper? If yes, then have a close look at this blog post to explore everything about the difference between Thesis and Research Paper

In the realm of academia, students and researchers encounter various types of written assignments that require rigorous investigation and analysis. Among these assignments, the thesis and research paper are two common forms of scholarly writing.

While both contribute to the advancement of knowledge and demonstrate a student’s research capabilities, there are distinct differences between them in terms of purpose, scope, originality, structure, evaluation, and length.

Understanding these differences is essential for students embarking on their academic journey or researchers seeking to make meaningful contributions to their respective fields.

By grasping the unique characteristics of a thesis and a research paper, individuals can navigate the academic landscape more effectively, align their research objectives, and tailor their writing to meet the specific expectations of each form of scholarly communication.

In this discussion, we will delve into the dissimilarities between a thesis and a research paper, shedding light on the distinct purposes they serve, the scope of their investigations, the level of originality they demand, the structure they adhere to, the evaluation criteria they face, and the length of time they require for completion.

By examining these aspects, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how a thesis and a research paper differ, allowing students and researchers to approach these academic assignments with greater clarity and confidence.

Whether you are a student embarking on your undergraduate or postgraduate journey, or a researcher striving to contribute to the scholarly discourse in your field, gaining a thorough understanding of the differences between a thesis and a research paper will serve as a valuable guide in effectively formulating research questions, conducting comprehensive investigations, and presenting your findings in a manner that aligns with the expectations of your academic community.

So, let us explore the unique characteristics that set a thesis and a research paper apart, empowering you to navigate the academic landscape and engage in scholarly pursuits with distinction and purpose.

Definition and Purpose of a Thesis

Table of Contents

A thesis is a significant academic document that showcases a student’s in-depth understanding of a particular subject and their ability to conduct independent research.

It is a formal written work that presents original findings, arguments, or theories, aiming to contribute new knowledge to the academic community. A thesis is typically pursued as a requirement for obtaining a higher academic degree, such as a Master’s or Ph.D.

The purpose of a thesis is multifold. Firstly, it serves as a demonstration of the student’s comprehensive understanding of the chosen field of study. It requires an extensive exploration of the existing literature, theories, methodologies, or experiments related to the research topic.

By delving deeply into the subject matter, a thesis allows students to showcase their analytical and critical thinking abilities, as well as their proficiency in synthesizing and evaluating complex information.

Secondly, a thesis aims to contribute to the existing body of knowledge within the specific academic discipline. It demands original research and the identification of a research gap, which the student then strives to fill through their investigations.

By conducting thorough research, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing meaningful conclusions, a thesis can offer new insights, propose novel theories, or develop innovative methodologies. Through their contribution, students endeavor to advance the understanding and knowledge within their field of study.

Lastly, a thesis serves as a requirement for obtaining a higher academic degree. It demonstrates the student’s research capabilities and scholarly competence, validating their readiness to contribute to their chosen field as a qualified professional or researcher.

Successful completion of a thesis signifies the mastery of research skills, the ability to work independently, and the capacity to engage in academic discourse.

Overall, a thesis represents a significant academic achievement, reflecting the culmination of a student’s academic journey and their dedication to expanding knowledge within their field. It serves as a testament to their intellectual capabilities, research prowess, and their potential to make meaningful contributions to their respective disciplines.

Definition and Purpose of a Research Paper

A research paper is a scholarly document that presents the results of a study or investigation conducted by a researcher or a group of researchers. It is a written work that focuses on addressing a specific research question, exploring a hypothesis, or investigating a particular topic within a given academic field. The purpose of a research paper is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge by presenting new insights, analyzing data, or providing a critical analysis of existing information.

Research papers are essential in various academic disciplines, including sciences, social sciences, humanities, and more. They serve as a means to communicate research findings, share knowledge, and engage in scholarly discussions.

Through research papers, researchers aim to advance understanding, challenge existing theories or assumptions, or propose new perspectives on a particular subject.

The primary purpose of a research paper is to contribute to the existing knowledge within a specific field of study. Researchers conduct a thorough review of relevant literature and studies to identify gaps or areas that require further investigation.

They formulate a research question or hypothesis and design a methodology to collect and analyze data that can answer the research question or test the hypothesis. The research paper then presents the findings, interpretations, and conclusions derived from the analysis of the collected data.

Research papers also play a crucial role in the dissemination of knowledge. They provide a platform for researchers to share their findings with the broader academic community.

By publishing research papers in academic journals, presenting them at conferences, or sharing them through other scholarly channels, researchers contribute to the ongoing conversations within their field. Other researchers can build upon the findings, validate or challenge the results, and collectively advance knowledge in a collaborative manner.

Moreover, research papers help researchers develop critical thinking skills, enhance their research methodology expertise, and contribute to their academic and professional growth.

Engaging in the research process, from formulating a research question to conducting data analysis, strengthens researchers’ abilities to think analytically, critically evaluate information, and draw meaningful conclusions. Research papers also provide opportunities for researchers to develop their academic writing skills, allowing them to effectively communicate their research findings and insights.

Difference Between Thesis and Research paper (Tabular Form)

Here’s a comparison between a thesis and a research paper in tabular form:

Please note that the specific characteristics may vary depending on the institution and academic discipline. This table provides a general overview of the key differences between a thesis and a research paper.

Difference Between Thesis and Research paper

Thesis and research paper are two distinct academic documents that have several differences. Here are the key dissimilarities between a thesis and a research paper:

Purpose and Objective

Have a close look at the purpose and objective comparison.

A thesis serves the purpose of demonstrating a student’s in-depth understanding of a subject, showcasing their analytical and critical thinking abilities, and contributing new knowledge to the academic community.

It aims to obtain a higher degree, such as a Master’s or Ph.D. For example, a Ph.D. thesis in biology may involve conducting original research to discover a new species or proposing a novel scientific theory.

Research Paper

The primary purpose of a research paper is to contribute to existing knowledge on a subject and engage in scholarly discussions. It focuses on exploring a research question or hypothesis, presenting findings, and analyzing the collected data.

For example, a research paper in economics may investigate the impact of a specific policy on economic growth by analyzing data from various sources.

Scope and Depth

Have a close look at the scope and depth comparison.

A thesis requires extensive research and an exhaustive exploration of the chosen topic. It involves delving deeply into the existing literature, critically analyzing previous studies, and offering an extensive review of relevant theories, methodologies, or experiments.

The scope of a thesis is broader, aiming to cover various aspects of the chosen field. For example, a thesis in history may involve examining multiple historical events, analyzing primary sources, and comparing different historical interpretations.

While a research paper also requires research, its scope of exploration is usually narrower compared to a thesis. Research papers often focus on addressing specific research questions, providing detailed analysis, or presenting findings within a limited context.

The scope of a research paper is more focused on a specific aspect or angle of the topic. For example, a research paper in psychology may investigate the effects of a particular therapy technique on a specific group of individuals.

Originality and Contribution

Have a close look at the originality and contribution comparison.

A thesis demands original research and substantial contribution to the existing body of knowledge in the field. It requires students to identify a research gap, formulate research questions, and conduct extensive investigations to fill that gap.

A thesis should provide novel insights, theories, or methodologies that contribute to the advancement of the field. For example, a thesis in computer science may involve developing a new algorithm or software application to solve a complex problem.

While a research paper also requires originality, its scope of contribution is typically narrower compared to a thesis. Research papers often focus on addressing specific aspects or angles of a topic, providing detailed analysis, or presenting findings within a limited context.

They may offer new perspectives or interpretations but may not be as extensive in terms of contributing to the overall knowledge in the field. For example, a research paper in sociology may present a new analysis of existing survey data to support or challenge existing sociological theories.

Structure and Formatting

Have a close look at structure and formatting comparison.

A thesis follows a specific structure that includes various sections such as a title page, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results and analysis, discussion, conclusion, references, and appendices (if applicable).

This structured format provides a comprehensive framework for presenting the research and analysis conducted. Each section has its purpose and contributes to the overall coherence of the thesis.

A research paper usually has a more flexible structure, depending on the field of study and the specific requirements of the assignment or publication. However, it commonly includes sections like a title, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results and analysis, discussion, conclusion, and references.

The structure may vary based on the specific guidelines or preferences of the intended publication. The flexibility allows researchers to adapt the structure to the needs of their study while maintaining the logical flow of information.

Evaluation and Audience

Have a close look at evolution and audience comparison.

A thesis is primarily evaluated by a committee of professors or experts in the field. The evaluation process involves comprehensive scrutiny of the research methodology, data analysis, theoretical frameworks, and the overall contribution to the field.

The audience for a thesis is typically limited to the academic community, including the student’s advisors, faculty members, and fellow researchers. The evaluation focuses on the originality, quality, and depth of the research conducted.

Research papers cater to a broader audience, including scholars, researchers, and professionals in the respective field. They are often evaluated through peer review processes before being published in academic journals or presented at conferences.

The evaluation criteria for research papers may vary depending on the publication or assignment guidelines, but they generally emphasize the clarity of research objectives, methodology, data analysis, and the significance of the findings. The evaluation focuses on the validity and contribution of the research to the existing knowledge.

Length and Time Frame

Have a close look at length and time frame comparison.

A thesis is typically longer in length compared to a research paper. It requires a more extensive investigation and analysis, resulting in a higher word count. The time frame to complete a thesis is also longer, often spanning several semesters or years.

The extended length and timeframe allow students to engage in thorough research, conduct experiments, gather data, and provide a comprehensive analysis of the chosen topic.

Research papers are generally shorter in length compared to a thesis. They focus on specific aspects or angles of a topic, resulting in a relatively shorter word count. The time frame to complete a research paper is shorter, often within a semester or a few weeks.

The shorter length and timeframe require researchers to narrow down their focus and present a concise analysis of the chosen research question.

Have a close look at purpose and objective comparison.

A thesis serves as a culmination of a student’s academic journey, demonstrating their mastery of a subject area and their ability to conduct independent research. It aims to contribute new knowledge, theories, or methodologies to the academic community, advancing the understanding of the chosen field.

The primary objective is to obtain a higher degree, such as a Master’s or Ph.D., and showcase expertise in a specialized area of study.

The primary purpose of a research paper is to communicate the results of a specific study or investigation to the academic community. It aims to contribute to existing knowledge by presenting new findings, interpretations, or analyses on a specific research question or topic.

Research papers can be standalone publications or part of a broader research project, providing insights and contributing to ongoing scholarly discussions.

Have a close look at scope and depth comparison.

A thesis requires a comprehensive and in-depth exploration of a subject, often involving extensive literature review, data collection, and analysis. It typically covers a broader scope within the chosen field, aiming to provide a holistic understanding of the topic and its various aspects.

A thesis often requires a more extensive examination of theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and relevant literature, presenting a well-rounded analysis.

Research papers often focus on a specific aspect or angle of a topic, narrowing down the scope of the study. The depth of exploration in a research paper is more limited compared to a thesis, as it emphasizes detailed analysis and findings related to the specific research question.

While research papers may include literature review and references, the analysis is usually more targeted and specific to the research question being addressed.

Have a close look at originality and contribution comparison.

A thesis requires a higher level of originality and contribution to the field. It should offer new insights, theories, methodologies, or empirical evidence that expand existing knowledge and advance the field of study.

A thesis often addresses a research gap or poses new research questions, aiming to fill a void in the existing body of knowledge.

While research papers also require originality, their contribution is typically more limited in scope. Research papers often build upon existing theories, methodologies, or data, offering new interpretations or perspectives within a specific context.

They may present incremental findings, replication studies, or comparative analyses that deepen understanding in a focused area of study.

A thesis follows a structured format that varies across institutions and disciplines. It typically includes sections such as a title page, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results and analysis, discussion, conclusion, references, and appendices (if applicable).

The structure ensures logical flow, provides context, and allows for comprehensive presentation of research and analysis.

Research papers also have a flexible structure, but they commonly include sections like a title, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results and analysis, discussion, conclusion, and references. The specific structure may vary based on publication guidelines or the nature of the study.

The structure aims to present the research question, methodology, findings, and analysis in a coherent and understandable manner.

Have a close look at evaluation and audience comparison.

Theses are primarily evaluated by a committee of professors or experts in the field. The evaluation process involves rigorous scrutiny of the research methodology, data analysis, theoretical frameworks, and overall contribution to the field.

The audience for a thesis is typically limited to the academic community, including the student’s advisors, faculty members, and fellow researchers.

Research papers are evaluated through peer review processes before publication or presentation. The evaluation criteria may vary depending on the specific guidelines or intended publication, but they generally assess the clarity of research objectives, methodology, data analysis, and the significance of the findings.

The audience for research papers includes scholars, researchers, and professionals in the respective field, aiming to contribute to ongoing scholarly discussions and inform future research.

Theses are typically longer in length compared to research papers. The word count for a thesis can vary significantly, ranging from tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand words, depending on the level of study and institution’s requirements.

The time frame to complete a thesis is longer, often spanning several semesters or years, allowing for thorough research, data collection, analysis, and the writing process.

Research papers are generally shorter in length compared to theses. The word count for research papers varies depending on the specific requirements of the publication or assignment, but it is typically more concise compared to a thesis.

The time frame to complete a research paper is shorter, often within a semester or a few weeks, necessitating focused research, analysis, and writing within a more limited timeframe.

In conclusion, the difference between a thesis and a research paper lies in their purpose, scope, originality, structure, evaluation, and length. A thesis represents the culmination of a student’s academic journey, aiming to obtain a higher degree and contribute new knowledge to the academic community.

It requires extensive research, in-depth exploration of the chosen topic, and a broader scope that covers various aspects of the field. A thesis demands originality and substantial contribution, often addressing research gaps and presenting novel insights or methodologies.

On the other hand, a research paper focuses on presenting specific findings, interpretations, or analyses within a narrower scope. While it also requires originality, its contribution is usually more limited, building upon existing theories or data to offer new perspectives or interpretations.

Research papers have a flexible structure, adapting to the requirements of the publication or assignment, while the thesis follows a specific and comprehensive format.

Theses are primarily evaluated by a committee of experts in the field, targeting the academic community, while research papers undergo peer review processes for publication and cater to a broader audience of scholars, researchers, and professionals.

Furthermore, the length and time frame differ between the two. Theses are generally longer, spanning several semesters or years, allowing for thorough research and analysis, while research papers are shorter and completed within a semester or a few weeks, requiring focused research and concise presentation of findings.

Understanding these distinctions is crucial for students and researchers to navigate their academic endeavors effectively. Whether one aims to pursue advanced degrees or contribute to scholarly discussions, recognizing the unique characteristics of the thesis and research paper helps in formulating research objectives, selecting appropriate methodologies, and presenting research outcomes in a manner suitable to their intended audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main objective of a thesis.

The main objective of a thesis is to demonstrate a student’s in-depth understanding of a subject, showcase their analytical and critical thinking abilities, and contribute new knowledge to the academic community.

Can a research paper be considered a thesis?

No, a research paper and a thesis are distinct academic documents. While both involve research and analysis, a thesis is more comprehensive, requires a higher level of originality, and aims for a higher academic degree.

How long does it take to complete a thesis?

The duration to complete a thesis can vary depending on the program and the nature of the research. It often takes several semesters or years to conduct the necessary research, collect data, analyze findings, and write the thesis.

Who evaluates a thesis?

A thesis is typically evaluated by a committee of professors or experts in the field. They assess the research methodology, data analysis, theoretical frameworks, and the overall contribution to the field.

What is the audience for a research paper?

The audience for a research paper includes scholars, researchers, and professionals in the respective field. Research papers are often published in academic journals or presented at conferences to engage in scholarly discussions.

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  • Key Differences

Know the Differences & Comparisons

Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

thesis-vs-research-paper

On the other hand, a research paper is analytical, argumentative and interpretative in nature. It involves the pursuit of knowledge and intelligent analysis of the information collected. It contains the idea of the author, often supported by expert opinions, research and information available in this regard.

Whether you are writing a thesis or research paper, they are equally challenging and take a lot of time to prepare. In this post, we will update you on all the points of difference between thesis and  research paper.

Content: Thesis Vs Research Paper

  • Key Elements
  • Thesis Statement

How to start a research paper?

Comparison chart, what is thesis.

The thesis is a document containing the research and findings that students submit to get the professional qualification or degree . It has to be argumentative, which proposes a debatable point with which people could either agree or disagree. In short, it is a research report in writing that contains a problem which is yet to be dealt with.

In a thesis, the researcher puts forth his/her conclusion. The researcher also gives evidence in support of the conclusion.

Submission of the thesis is a mandatory requirement of a postgraduate course and PhD degree. In this, the primary focus is on the novelty of research along with the research methodology.

It is all about possibilities, by introducing several anti-thesis. Also, it ends up all the possibilities by nullifying all these anti-thesis.

Key Elements of Thesis

Key-Elements-of-Thesis

  • Proposition : The thesis propagates an idea, hypothesis or recommendation.
  • Argument : Gives reasons for accepting the proposition instead of just asserting a point of view.
  • Maintenance of argument : The argument should be made cogent enough by providing suitable logic and adequate evidence.

Features of An Ideal Thesis

  • An Ideal thesis is expected to add fresh knowledge to the existing theory.
  • It communicates the central idea of the research in a clear and concise manner.
  • An effective thesis is more than a simple statement, fact or question.
  • It answers why and how questions concerned with the topic.
  • To avoid confusion, it is worded carefully.
  • It outlines the direction and scope of your essay.
  • It gives reasons to the reader to continue reading.

Also Read : Difference Between Thesis and Dissertation

What is Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence of one line, usually written at the end of your first paragraph. It presents the argument to the reader.

It is a blueprint of your thesis that directs the writer while writing the thesis and guides the reader through it.

What is Research Paper?

Research Paper is a form of academic writing. It is prepared on the basis of the original research conducted by the author on a specific topic, along with its analysis and interpretation of the findings.

An author generally starts writing a research paper on the basis of what he knows about the topic and seeks to find out what experts know. Further, it involves thorough and systematic research on a particular subject to extract the maximum information.

In short, a research paper is a written and published report containing the results of scientific research or a review of published scientific papers. Here, the scientific research is the primary research article, while the review of a published scientific paper is the review article.

In case of the primary research article, the author of the research paper provides important information about the research. This enables the scientific community members to:

  • Evaluate it
  • Reproduce the experiments
  • Assess the reasoning and conclusions drawn

On the other hand, a review article is written to analyze, summarize and synthesize the research carried out previously.

When a research work is published in a scientific journal, it conveys the knowledge to a larger group of people and also makes people aware of the scientific work. Research work published as a research paper passes on knowledge and information to many people. The research paper provides relevant information about the disease and the treatment options at hand .

To start writing a research paper, one should always go for a topic that is interesting and a bit challenging too. Here, the key to choosing the topic is to pick the one that you can manage. So, you could avoid such topics which are very technical or specialized and also those topics for which data is not easily available. Also, do not go for any controversial topic.

The researcher’s approach and attitude towards the topic will decide the amount of effort and enthusiasm.

Steps for writing Research Paper

Steps-for-writing-research-paper

The total number of pages included in a Research Paper relies upon the research topic. It may include 8 to 10 pages, which are:

  • Introduction
  • Review of Literature
  • Methodology
  • Research Analysis
  • Recommendations

Also Read : Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report

Key Differences Between Thesis and Research Paper

  • A thesis implies an original, plagiarism-free, written academic document that acts as a final project for a university degree of a higher level. But, Research Paper is a novel, plagiarism-free long essay. It portrays the interpretation, evaluation or argument submitted by a researcher.
  • The thesis acts as a final project. Whereas a research paper is a kind of research manual of journals.
  • The length of the thesis is around 20,000 to 80,000 words. On the contrary, the length of the research paper is relative to the study.
  • The thesis focuses on the central question or statement of an intellectual argument that entails further research. On the contrary, the research paper is concerned with proving the central argument.
  • The purpose of submitting the thesis is to get the degree or professional qualification. It also presents the knowledge of the candidate in the respective field. Conversely, the aim of publishing research papers is to prove credibility and contribute knowledge in the respective field.
  • While the student submits the thesis to the educational committee or panel of professors who review it. In contrast, scientists and other researchers read and review the research paper.
  • Preparation and completion of thesis is always under the guidance of a supervisor. For submission of the thesis, the university assigns a supervisor to each student, under whose guidance the thesis must be completed. As against, no supervisor is appointed as a guide in case of a research paper.
  • The thesis contains a broader description of the subject matter. In contrast, the research paper contains a narrow description of the subject matter.

Once the research paper is published, it increases the fellowship and job opportunities for new researchers. On the other hand, thesis writing will enable the students to get the desired degree at the end of the course they have opted.

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February 23, 2023 at 2:38 pm

So good and informative. These are quite beneficial insights. Thanks

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Home » Education » What is the Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

What is the Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

The main difference between thesis and research paper is that thesis is a long academic paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree, while research paper is a piece of academic writing on a particular topic.

In brief, both thesis and research paper are types of academic writing students need to complete in their academic life. While there are many similarities between the two, including the use of academic writing and structure, they are not the same. 

Key Areas Covered

1.  What is a Thesis       – Definition, Features 2.  What is a Research Paper      – Definition, Features 3.  Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper     – Comparison of Key Differences

Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper - Comparison Summary

What is a Thesis

A thesis is a long paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree. Submitting a thesis is generally required for completing undergraduate honours, masters , and  doctoral degrees . The theses are very long and may contain hundreds of pages. They are also scholarly in nature and allows students to contribute valuable research in their field of study.

Moreover, a major part of a thesis work involves research and writing. It generally has advanced  research design  and analysis. When writing a thesis, the students will have to prove or disapprove a  hypothesis , and their conclusions have to be backed by extensive research and an insightful, learned description of how they got to that conclusion. In some degree programs, students also have to perform an oral defence of the thesis paper in front of a panel of experts.

Components of a Thesis

These are the components you will usually find in a thesis paper.

  • Title Page                       
  • Abstract           
  • Table of Contents           
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables           
  • Introduction           
  • Methods           
  • Discussion             
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations           
  • Acknowledgements
  • References             

What is a Research Paper

A research paper is a type of academic writing that involves research, source evaluation, critical thinking, organization, and composition. Moreover, through a research paper, students can explore, interpret, and evaluate sources related to a particular topic. In fact, primary and secondary sources are very important components of a research paper. But it’s important to note that a research paper is not just a summary of a topic using primary and secondary sources. It’s not just an opinion essay or an expository essay that contains the writer’s opinions and views, either. A research paper is a type of writing that requires evaluating different sources and interpreting the information of these sources through one’s own lens. Furthermore, the main purpose of this type of writing is to offer a unique perspective on a topic analyzing and evaluating what others have already said about it.

Thesis vs Research Paper

In addition, there are different types of research papers. Argumentative research papers and analytical research papers are two of the main types of research papers.

Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

A thesis or dissertation is a long academic paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree while a research paper is a type of academic writing that involves research, source evaluation, critical thinking, organization, and composition.

In an Academic Context

In an academic context, students may be required to write research papers for assignments and homework, but a thesis is usually the final project.

A thesis tends to be longer than a research paper; in fact, a thesis can take many months, sometimes years, to complete.

Supervision

The thesis is written under the supervision of one or more academic supervisors whereas research papers usually do not have supervisors.

Students have to complete a thesis in order to complete their degree, whereas students write research papers to expand their knowledge.

In brief, the main difference between thesis and research paper is that thesis is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree, while a research paper is a piece of academic writing on a particular topic. Moreover, in an academic context, students may be required to write research papers for assignments and homework. But the thesis is usually the final project.

1. Stute, Martin. “ How to Write Your Thesis .” Columbia University. 2. “ Genre and the Research Paper .” Purdue Writing Lab.

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1. “ Research Paper ” (CC BY-SA 3.0) By Nick Youngson via Alpha Stock Images 

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What is a thesis | A Complete Guide with Examples

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Table of Contents

A thesis is a comprehensive academic paper based on your original research that presents new findings, arguments, and ideas of your study. It’s typically submitted at the end of your master’s degree or as a capstone of your bachelor’s degree.

However, writing a thesis can be laborious, especially for beginners. From the initial challenge of pinpointing a compelling research topic to organizing and presenting findings, the process is filled with potential pitfalls.

Therefore, to help you, this guide talks about what is a thesis. Additionally, it offers revelations and methodologies to transform it from an overwhelming task to a manageable and rewarding academic milestone.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic.

Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research, which not only fortifies your propositions but also confers credibility to your entire study.

Furthermore, there's another phenomenon you might often confuse with the thesis: the ' working thesis .' However, they aren't similar and shouldn't be used interchangeably.

A working thesis, often referred to as a preliminary or tentative thesis, is an initial version of your thesis statement. It serves as a draft or a starting point that guides your research in its early stages.

As you research more and gather more evidence, your initial thesis (aka working thesis) might change. It's like a starting point that can be adjusted as you learn more. It's normal for your main topic to change a few times before you finalize it.

While a thesis identifies and provides an overarching argument, the key to clearly communicating the central point of that argument lies in writing a strong thesis statement.

What is a thesis statement?

A strong thesis statement (aka thesis sentence) is a concise summary of the main argument or claim of the paper. It serves as a critical anchor in any academic work, succinctly encapsulating the primary argument or main idea of the entire paper.

Typically found within the introductory section, a strong thesis statement acts as a roadmap of your thesis, directing readers through your arguments and findings. By delineating the core focus of your investigation, it offers readers an immediate understanding of the context and the gravity of your study.

Furthermore, an effectively crafted thesis statement can set forth the boundaries of your research, helping readers anticipate the specific areas of inquiry you are addressing.

Different types of thesis statements

A good thesis statement is clear, specific, and arguable. Therefore, it is necessary for you to choose the right type of thesis statement for your academic papers.

Thesis statements can be classified based on their purpose and structure. Here are the primary types of thesis statements:

Argumentative (or Persuasive) thesis statement

Purpose : To convince the reader of a particular stance or point of view by presenting evidence and formulating a compelling argument.

Example : Reducing plastic use in daily life is essential for environmental health.

Analytical thesis statement

Purpose : To break down an idea or issue into its components and evaluate it.

Example : By examining the long-term effects, social implications, and economic impact of climate change, it becomes evident that immediate global action is necessary.

Expository (or Descriptive) thesis statement

Purpose : To explain a topic or subject to the reader.

Example : The Great Depression, spanning the 1930s, was a severe worldwide economic downturn triggered by a stock market crash, bank failures, and reduced consumer spending.

Cause and effect thesis statement

Purpose : To demonstrate a cause and its resulting effect.

Example : Overuse of smartphones can lead to impaired sleep patterns, reduced face-to-face social interactions, and increased levels of anxiety.

Compare and contrast thesis statement

Purpose : To highlight similarities and differences between two subjects.

Example : "While both novels '1984' and 'Brave New World' delve into dystopian futures, they differ in their portrayal of individual freedom, societal control, and the role of technology."

When you write a thesis statement , it's important to ensure clarity and precision, so the reader immediately understands the central focus of your work.

What is the difference between a thesis and a thesis statement?

While both terms are frequently used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings.

A thesis refers to the entire research document, encompassing all its chapters and sections. In contrast, a thesis statement is a brief assertion that encapsulates the central argument of the research.

Here’s an in-depth differentiation table of a thesis and a thesis statement.

Now, to craft a compelling thesis, it's crucial to adhere to a specific structure. Let’s break down these essential components that make up a thesis structure

15 components of a thesis structure

Navigating a thesis can be daunting. However, understanding its structure can make the process more manageable.

Here are the key components or different sections of a thesis structure:

Your thesis begins with the title page. It's not just a formality but the gateway to your research.

title-page-of-a-thesis

Here, you'll prominently display the necessary information about you (the author) and your institutional details.

  • Title of your thesis
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date
  • Your Supervisor's name (in some cases)
  • Your Department or faculty (in some cases)
  • Your University's logo (in some cases)
  • Your Student ID (in some cases)

In a concise manner, you'll have to summarize the critical aspects of your research in typically no more than 200-300 words.

Abstract-section-of-a-thesis

This includes the problem statement, methodology, key findings, and conclusions. For many, the abstract will determine if they delve deeper into your work, so ensure it's clear and compelling.

Acknowledgments

Research is rarely a solitary endeavor. In the acknowledgments section, you have the chance to express gratitude to those who've supported your journey.

Acknowledgement-section-of-a-thesis

This might include advisors, peers, institutions, or even personal sources of inspiration and support. It's a personal touch, reflecting the humanity behind the academic rigor.

Table of contents

A roadmap for your readers, the table of contents lists the chapters, sections, and subsections of your thesis.

Table-of-contents-of-a-thesis

By providing page numbers, you allow readers to navigate your work easily, jumping to sections that pique their interest.

List of figures and tables

Research often involves data, and presenting this data visually can enhance understanding. This section provides an organized listing of all figures and tables in your thesis.

List-of-tables-and-figures-in-a-thesis

It's a visual index, ensuring that readers can quickly locate and reference your graphical data.

Introduction

Here's where you introduce your research topic, articulate the research question or objective, and outline the significance of your study.

Introduction-section-of-a-thesis

  • Present the research topic : Clearly articulate the central theme or subject of your research.
  • Background information : Ground your research topic, providing any necessary context or background information your readers might need to understand the significance of your study.
  • Define the scope : Clearly delineate the boundaries of your research, indicating what will and won't be covered.
  • Literature review : Introduce any relevant existing research on your topic, situating your work within the broader academic conversation and highlighting where your research fits in.
  • State the research Question(s) or objective(s) : Clearly articulate the primary questions or objectives your research aims to address.
  • Outline the study's structure : Give a brief overview of how the subsequent sections of your work will unfold, guiding your readers through the journey ahead.

The introduction should captivate your readers, making them eager to delve deeper into your research journey.

Literature review section

Your study correlates with existing research. Therefore, in the literature review section, you'll engage in a dialogue with existing knowledge, highlighting relevant studies, theories, and findings.

Literature-review-section-thesis

It's here that you identify gaps in the current knowledge, positioning your research as a bridge to new insights.

To streamline this process, consider leveraging AI tools. For example, the SciSpace literature review tool enables you to efficiently explore and delve into research papers, simplifying your literature review journey.

Methodology

In the research methodology section, you’ll detail the tools, techniques, and processes you employed to gather and analyze data. This section will inform the readers about how you approached your research questions and ensures the reproducibility of your study.

Methodology-section-thesis

Here's a breakdown of what it should encompass:

  • Research Design : Describe the overall structure and approach of your research. Are you conducting a qualitative study with in-depth interviews? Or is it a quantitative study using statistical analysis? Perhaps it's a mixed-methods approach?
  • Data Collection : Detail the methods you used to gather data. This could include surveys, experiments, observations, interviews, archival research, etc. Mention where you sourced your data, the duration of data collection, and any tools or instruments used.
  • Sampling : If applicable, explain how you selected participants or data sources for your study. Discuss the size of your sample and the rationale behind choosing it.
  • Data Analysis : Describe the techniques and tools you used to process and analyze the data. This could range from statistical tests in quantitative research to thematic analysis in qualitative research.
  • Validity and Reliability : Address the steps you took to ensure the validity and reliability of your findings to ensure that your results are both accurate and consistent.
  • Ethical Considerations : Highlight any ethical issues related to your research and the measures you took to address them, including — informed consent, confidentiality, and data storage and protection measures.

Moreover, different research questions necessitate different types of methodologies. For instance:

  • Experimental methodology : Often used in sciences, this involves a controlled experiment to discern causality.
  • Qualitative methodology : Employed when exploring patterns or phenomena without numerical data. Methods can include interviews, focus groups, or content analysis.
  • Quantitative methodology : Concerned with measurable data and often involves statistical analysis. Surveys and structured observations are common tools here.
  • Mixed methods : As the name implies, this combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

The Methodology section isn’t just about detailing the methods but also justifying why they were chosen. The appropriateness of the methods in addressing your research question can significantly impact the credibility of your findings.

Results (or Findings)

This section presents the outcomes of your research. It's crucial to note that the nature of your results may vary; they could be quantitative, qualitative, or a mix of both.

Results-section-thesis

Quantitative results often present statistical data, showcasing measurable outcomes, and they benefit from tables, graphs, and figures to depict these data points.

Qualitative results , on the other hand, might delve into patterns, themes, or narratives derived from non-numerical data, such as interviews or observations.

Regardless of the nature of your results, clarity is essential. This section is purely about presenting the data without offering interpretations — that comes later in the discussion.

In the discussion section, the raw data transforms into valuable insights.

Start by revisiting your research question and contrast it with the findings. How do your results expand, constrict, or challenge current academic conversations?

Dive into the intricacies of the data, guiding the reader through its implications. Detail potential limitations transparently, signaling your awareness of the research's boundaries. This is where your academic voice should be resonant and confident.

Practical implications (Recommendation) section

Based on the insights derived from your research, this section provides actionable suggestions or proposed solutions.

Whether aimed at industry professionals or the general public, recommendations translate your academic findings into potential real-world actions. They help readers understand the practical implications of your work and how it can be applied to effect change or improvement in a given field.

When crafting recommendations, it's essential to ensure they're feasible and rooted in the evidence provided by your research. They shouldn't merely be aspirational but should offer a clear path forward, grounded in your findings.

The conclusion provides closure to your research narrative.

It's not merely a recap but a synthesis of your main findings and their broader implications. Reconnect with the research questions or hypotheses posited at the beginning, offering clear answers based on your findings.

Conclusion-section-thesis

Reflect on the broader contributions of your study, considering its impact on the academic community and potential real-world applications.

Lastly, the conclusion should leave your readers with a clear understanding of the value and impact of your study.

References (or Bibliography)

Every theory you've expounded upon, every data point you've cited, and every methodological precedent you've followed finds its acknowledgment here.

References-section-thesis

In references, it's crucial to ensure meticulous consistency in formatting, mirroring the specific guidelines of the chosen citation style .

Proper referencing helps to avoid plagiarism , gives credit to original ideas, and allows readers to explore topics of interest. Moreover, it situates your work within the continuum of academic knowledge.

To properly cite the sources used in the study, you can rely on online citation generator tools  to generate accurate citations!

Here’s more on how you can cite your sources.

Often, the depth of research produces a wealth of material that, while crucial, can make the core content of the thesis cumbersome. The appendix is where you mention extra information that supports your research but isn't central to the main text.

Appendices-section-thesis

Whether it's raw datasets, detailed procedural methodologies, extended case studies, or any other ancillary material, the appendices ensure that these elements are archived for reference without breaking the main narrative's flow.

For thorough researchers and readers keen on meticulous details, the appendices provide a treasure trove of insights.

Glossary (optional)

In academics, specialized terminologies, and jargon are inevitable. However, not every reader is versed in every term.

The glossary, while optional, is a critical tool for accessibility. It's a bridge ensuring that even readers from outside the discipline can access, understand, and appreciate your work.

Glossary-section-of-a-thesis

By defining complex terms and providing context, you're inviting a wider audience to engage with your research, enhancing its reach and impact.

Remember, while these components provide a structured framework, the essence of your thesis lies in the originality of your ideas, the rigor of your research, and the clarity of your presentation.

As you craft each section, keep your readers in mind, ensuring that your passion and dedication shine through every page.

Thesis examples

To further elucidate the concept of a thesis, here are illustrative examples from various fields:

Example 1 (History): Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807 by Suchait Kahlon.
Example 2 (Climate Dynamics): Influence of external forcings on abrupt millennial-scale climate changes: a statistical modelling study by Takahito Mitsui · Michel Crucifix

Checklist for your thesis evaluation

Evaluating your thesis ensures that your research meets the standards of academia. Here's an elaborate checklist to guide you through this critical process.

Content and structure

  • Is the thesis statement clear, concise, and debatable?
  • Does the introduction provide sufficient background and context?
  • Is the literature review comprehensive, relevant, and well-organized?
  • Does the methodology section clearly describe and justify the research methods?
  • Are the results/findings presented clearly and logically?
  • Does the discussion interpret the results in light of the research question and existing literature?
  • Is the conclusion summarizing the research and suggesting future directions or implications?

Clarity and coherence

  • Is the writing clear and free of jargon?
  • Are ideas and sections logically connected and flowing?
  • Is there a clear narrative or argument throughout the thesis?

Research quality

  • Is the research question significant and relevant?
  • Are the research methods appropriate for the question?
  • Is the sample size (if applicable) adequate?
  • Are the data analysis techniques appropriate and correctly applied?
  • Are potential biases or limitations addressed?

Originality and significance

  • Does the thesis contribute new knowledge or insights to the field?
  • Is the research grounded in existing literature while offering fresh perspectives?

Formatting and presentation

  • Is the thesis formatted according to institutional guidelines?
  • Are figures, tables, and charts clear, labeled, and referenced in the text?
  • Is the bibliography or reference list complete and consistently formatted?
  • Are appendices relevant and appropriately referenced in the main text?

Grammar and language

  • Is the thesis free of grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Is the language professional, consistent, and appropriate for an academic audience?
  • Are quotations and paraphrased material correctly cited?

Feedback and revision

  • Have you sought feedback from peers, advisors, or experts in the field?
  • Have you addressed the feedback and made the necessary revisions?

Overall assessment

  • Does the thesis as a whole feel cohesive and comprehensive?
  • Would the thesis be understandable and valuable to someone in your field?

Ensure to use this checklist to leave no ground for doubt or missed information in your thesis.

After writing your thesis, the next step is to discuss and defend your findings verbally in front of a knowledgeable panel. You’ve to be well prepared as your professors may grade your presentation abilities.

Preparing your thesis defense

A thesis defense, also known as "defending the thesis," is the culmination of a scholar's research journey. It's the final frontier, where you’ll present their findings and face scrutiny from a panel of experts.

Typically, the defense involves a public presentation where you’ll have to outline your study, followed by a question-and-answer session with a committee of experts. This committee assesses the validity, originality, and significance of the research.

The defense serves as a rite of passage for scholars. It's an opportunity to showcase expertise, address criticisms, and refine arguments. A successful defense not only validates the research but also establishes your authority as a researcher in your field.

Here’s how you can effectively prepare for your thesis defense .

Now, having touched upon the process of defending a thesis, it's worth noting that scholarly work can take various forms, depending on academic and regional practices.

One such form, often paralleled with the thesis, is the 'dissertation.' But what differentiates the two?

Dissertation vs. Thesis

Often used interchangeably in casual discourse, they refer to distinct research projects undertaken at different levels of higher education.

To the uninitiated, understanding their meaning might be elusive. So, let's demystify these terms and delve into their core differences.

Here's a table differentiating between the two.

Wrapping up

From understanding the foundational concept of a thesis to navigating its various components, differentiating it from a dissertation, and recognizing the importance of proper citation — this guide covers it all.

As scholars and readers, understanding these nuances not only aids in academic pursuits but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the relentless quest for knowledge that drives academia.

It’s important to remember that every thesis is a testament to curiosity, dedication, and the indomitable spirit of discovery.

Good luck with your thesis writing!

Frequently Asked Questions

A thesis typically ranges between 40-80 pages, but its length can vary based on the research topic, institution guidelines, and level of study.

A PhD thesis usually spans 200-300 pages, though this can vary based on the discipline, complexity of the research, and institutional requirements.

To identify a thesis topic, consider current trends in your field, gaps in existing literature, personal interests, and discussions with advisors or mentors. Additionally, reviewing related journals and conference proceedings can provide insights into potential areas of exploration.

The conceptual framework is often situated in the literature review or theoretical framework section of a thesis. It helps set the stage by providing the context, defining key concepts, and explaining the relationships between variables.

A thesis statement should be concise, clear, and specific. It should state the main argument or point of your research. Start by pinpointing the central question or issue your research addresses, then condense that into a single statement, ensuring it reflects the essence of your paper.

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Dissertation vs Thesis: Your 2024 Guide

Chriselle Sy

If you’ve been thinking about going to graduate school, you may be familiar with the application requirements, rigorous academic schedule, and thesis or dissertation you’ll be expected to complete. So, what exactly is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation? While there are similarities, there’s a clear difference between the two. In our guide, we compare dissertation vs thesis. Discover more about both – and what you can expect during your graduate program. Let’s get started!

  • Table of Contents

What Is a Thesis?

A thesis is an academic paper or project that’s completed towards the end of a master’s degree program . It is typically completed as the capstone project , meaning it’s the final project required for a student to graduate.

Students need to select a narrow, specific topic within – or relating to – their field of study. Once they’ve selected a topic, students must conduct an in-depth review of existing research on their chosen subjects. The next step is to formulate an academic argument, an assertion they’ll need to support or prove with said research.

Therefore, a thesis is akin to an in-depth research paper. It’s comprised of research that essentially proves what a student has learned during their program.

What Is a Typical Thesis Structure?

A thesis generally follows a rigid structure that’s decided by the program, department, or university. Here is an example of a thesis structure:

  • The Title Page
  • Summary of Thesis Abstract
  • Table of Maps and Figures
  • The Thesis Body (Sometimes divided into chapters)
  • The Results or Conclusion

Who Needs to Complete a Thesis?

Most master’s degree programs require students to complete a thesis. While some undergraduate programs may also require a thesis, these are generally shorter and narrower in scope.

Some programs will also require a master’s student to defend their thesis in front of a panel or committee.

What Is a Dissertation?

What is “the PhD paper” called? Some people refer to it as a PhD thesis, but it’s most commonly known as a dissertation in the US. Dissertations are the capstone project required at the tail end of a PhD program . It is almost always required, except for a select few one-year PhD programs .

Much like a thesis, dissertations are also academic papers that aim to prove a student’s expertise – while adding to the current body of knowledge – in their field. Thus, a student must look at existing research and conduct their own research .

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

Basically, it’s the magnum opus of a doctoral journey in the United States. A dissertation isn’t just a long research paper; it’s a beast of a project. It demands extensive research, originality, and the ability to make a meaningful contribution to your chosen field. Think of it as a research odyssey guided by a seasoned mentor. Once you’ve conquered this scholarly quest and defended your findings, you’ll proudly emerge with your hard-earned doctoral degree, a testament to your dedication and scholarly prowess.

A dissertation typically comes after a PhD student completes their required courses and passes their qualifying exams. In some programs, the dissertation process is embedded into the coursework. In such cases, students receive a jump start on their work, allowing them to potentially finish their program earlier.

What Does a Dissertation Do?

PhD candidates must present a new theory or hypothesis. Alternatively, they must present their research to question (or disprove) the existing accepted theory on their chosen subject. Students may choose to tackle their topic from a new angle or take their research in a different direction.

Most programs will require students to defend their dissertations. During the defense, candidates must be able to justify the methodology of their research and the results and interpretation of their findings. Defenses are typically oral presentations in front of a dissertation committee , where the students are asked questions or presented with challenges.

Although the defense may seem daunting, PhD students work closely with their advisors to prepare for their dissertations. Students receive feedback and advice to guide their dissertations in their chosen direction.

What Is the Typical Dissertation Structure? 

Dissertations follow a rigid structure typically set by the program, department, or university. Here is an example format:

  • The Acknowledgments Page
  • The Abstract
  • Introduction
  • The Literature Review & Theoretical Framework
  • The Methodology
  • Findings/Results
  • Discussions of the Findings, including analysis, interpretation, and applications
  • The Conclusion
  • List of References
  • Any Appendices

What Is a Doctoral Thesis?

A doctoral thesis is a substantial piece of scholarly work that marks the pinnacle of a doctoral degree program, such as a PhD. Think of it as the academic grand finale. Its primary mission? To showcase the candidate’s mastery in their chosen field and their knack for delving deep into research.

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

In a nutshell, a doctoral thesis is a mammoth project that calls for originality. You’ve got to dig, investigate, gather data, crunch numbers, and present real data-supported findings. All this hard work usually happens under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable mentor. Once you’ve conquered this scholarly mountain and defended your thesis successfully, you’ll be proudly awarded your well-deserved doctoral degree. It’s the hallmark of your expertise and contribution to your field.

And how does a doctoral thesis differ from a dissertation? That’s mainly a geographic explanation. While they’re largely similar in scope and purpose, when comparing a doctoral thesis vs. a dissertation:

  • A dissertation is the PhD capstone requirement in the US .
  • A doctoral thesis is the PhD capstone requirement in Europe .

Related Reading: The Easiest PhDs

Dissertation vs. Thesis: The Similarities

In the master’s thesis vs dissertation discussion, there are plenty of similarities. Both are lengthy academic papers that require intense research and original writing. They’re also capstone projects which are completed at the tail end of their respective programs.

Students must work closely with their respective committees (e.g., faculty members, advisors, professionals) who provide feedback and guidance on their research, writing, and academic arguments. Both thesis and dissertation committees have a committee chair with whom the students work closely.

In some ways, the requirements for theses and dissertations are quite similar. They require a skillful defense of a student’s academic arguments. What’s more, both papers require critical thinking and good analytical reasoning, as well as in-depth expertise in the chosen field of study.

Students must also invest a significant amount of time into both projects while also being able to accept and action feedback on their work.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: The Differences

What are the differences between a PhD dissertation vs. thesis? The first and most distinct difference is the degree program requiring a PhD dissertation or thesis. A dissertation is typically the capstone project for a doctorate, while a thesis is the capstone project for a master’s degree program (or undergraduate program).

Candidates will have to defend their dissertation during an oral presentation in front of their committee. Only some master’s theses require this.

During a thesis, students typically conduct research by reviewing existing literature and knowledge on their chosen subject. During a dissertation, students must do their own research and prove their theory, concept, or hypothesis. They should also expect to develop a unique concept and defend it based on the practical and theoretical results achieved from their rigorous research.

Theses are also typically shorter (around 40 to 80 pages). Dissertations, however, are much longer (between 100 and 300 pages). Of course, the actual length of the paper may depend on the topic, program, department, or university.

Related Reading : PhD Candidate vs Student: What’s the Difference? 

Dissertations and Theses: US vs. Europe

Whether you’re in the US or Europe, dissertations and theses are similar. However, European requirements and conventions differ slightly:

Doctoral Thesis

To ensure your PhD graduation, a dissertation is generally required. Doctoral theses in Europe are much like a PhD dissertation in the US : You must complete your own research and add to the existing body of knowledge in your field.

Master’s Dissertation

It may seem odd to require a dissertation for master’s degree programs, but in Europe, this is exactly what you’ll need. A master’s dissertation is a broader post-graduate program research project , though it’s most typically required for master’s programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few of the most common questions we hear about the meaning of thesis vs. dissertation.

Is a Thesis and a Dissertation the Same?

Yes and no. In some ways, a dissertation and a thesis are the same. For example, both require original writing, critical skills, analytical thinking, plenty of research, and lots of academic effort. However, a thesis is more commonly reserved for master’s – and some undergraduate – programs. Dissertations are generally required by PhD programs in the United States.

Additionally, a thesis typically calls for heavy research and compilation of existing knowledge and literature on a subject. A dissertation requires candidates to conduct their own research to prove their own theory, concept, or hypothesis – adding to the existing body of knowledge in their chosen field of study.

How Long Is a Thesis vs. a Dissertation?

One of the primary differences between thesis and dissertation papers is their length. While a thesis might be anywhere from 40 to 80 pages long, a dissertation can easily run from 100 to 300. It’s important to note that these numbers depend on the specific program and university.

Does a PhD Require a Thesis or a Dissertation?

It all depends on where you are! While a US-based PhD requires you to complete a dissertation, a thesis (or “doctoral thesis”) is more commonly required for PhD candidates in Europe. In the US, a thesis is more commonly reserved for master’s degree programs and occasionally undergraduate programs. In Europe, a “master’s dissertation” is typically required for the completion of a master’s degree.

So, there you have it: an in-depth comparison of the dissertation vs. thesis academic requirements. Now that you know the primary similarities and differences between the two, it might become easier to decide your academic path. Just remember, you may be able to find a master’s program without a thesis or a doctorate without a dissertation requirement if you prefer. Good luck!

Are you ready to jump into your doctorate? Find out if you need a master’s degree to get a PhD .

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

Chriselle Sy

Chriselle has been a passionate professional content writer for over 10 years. She writes educational content for The Grad Cafe, Productivity Spot, The College Monk, and other digital publications.  When she isn't busy writing, she spends her time streaming video games and learning new skills.

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Reference management. Clean and simple.

What is a research paper?

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

A research paper is a paper that makes an argument about a topic based on research and analysis.

Any paper requiring the writer to research a particular topic is a research paper. Unlike essays, which are often based largely on opinion and are written from the author's point of view, research papers are based in fact.

A research paper requires you to form an opinion on a topic, research and gain expert knowledge on that topic, and then back up your own opinions and assertions with facts found through your thorough research.

➡️ Read more about  different types of research papers .

What is the difference between a research paper and a thesis?

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

A thesis is a document students of higher education write to obtain an academic degree or qualification. Usually, it is longer than a research paper and takes multiple years to complete.

Generally associated with graduate/postgraduate studies, it is carried out under the supervision of a professor or other academic of the university.

A major difference between a research paper and a thesis is that:

  • a research paper presents certain facts that have already been researched and explained by others
  • a thesis starts with a certain scholarly question or statement, which then leads to further research and new findings

This means that a thesis requires the author to input original work and their own findings in a certain field, whereas the research paper can be completed with extensive research only.

➡️ Getting ready to start a research paper or thesis? Take a look at our guides on how to start a research paper or how to come up with a topic for your thesis .

Frequently Asked Questions about research papers

Take a look at this list of the top 21 Free Online Journal and Research Databases , such as ScienceOpen , Directory of Open Access Journals , ERIC , and many more.

Mason Porter, Professor at UCLA, explains in this forum post the main reasons to write a research paper:

  • To create new knowledge and disseminate it.
  • To teach science and how to write about it in an academic style.
  • Some practical benefits: prestige, establishing credentials, requirements for grants or to help one get a future grant proposal, and so on.

Generally, people involved in the academia. Research papers are mostly written by higher education students and professional researchers.

Yes, a research paper is the same as a scientific paper. Both papers have the same purpose and format.

A major difference between a research paper and a thesis is that the former presents certain facts that have already been researched and explained by others, whereas the latter starts with a certain scholarly question or statement, which then leads to further research and new findings.

Related Articles

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 28, 2023

Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points

  • Introduction

Some of the basic confusion introduced in our schools has yet to be cleared. It is the reason why we decided to select the often confused topic of the distinction between a thesis and a research paper. Many times in our academic projects, we have a thesis or research paper to work on.

Thesis and research papers are generally submitted as the final

assignment. In our country, we hardly get to see such assignments for the completion of courses, but in foreign countries, we often see such assignments.

Many of our students claim that they find it difficult to understand the difference between a thesis and a research paper. So it is important to familiarise ourselves with and understand these important topics. Although this difference is a bit difficult to understand because of the high degree of confusion,

  • Thesis vs. Research paper

The aspects that are common in a research paper and a thesis are that both are academic documents. But we know that there are a lot of differences between both documents. This difference can be caused by style, purpose, or specific components.

The basic difference between a thesis and a research paper is the purpose. The purpose of a thesis is to present it as a document written to support an academic qualification. It is longer in comparison to a research paper, and thus it is finished in several years. A thesis, also known as a dissertation, is usually connected with PG studies, i.e., taught at the Master’s degree, M.Phil., or Ph.D. level, and is performed under the guidance of an academic professional of the respective university. A guide or supervisor is the person who oversees and guides the progress of the person writing the thesis. One of the supervisor’s tasks is to develop presentation and writing skills and capability for research. In most universities, the guide or supervisor has the responsibility to meet with every student frequently and discuss how progress is going. But a research paper is usually written as a collective part of a topic and is not counted as a separate module or subject. This is the reason why it does not require an individual supervisor or guide.

  • Difference between a thesis and a research paper in tabular form
  • What is a thesis?

The term thesis is taken from the Greek word tithenai. It means "to place." This initial definition was related to the origins of an intentional infinitive, which indicates "putting forth" of something. After this, the Greek word transformed into 'thesis'. In Greek, it means "to put forth something," akin to a proposal. This theme is a matter of argument today and is popularly called a ‘thesis’.

When we discuss a thesis, it is defined as a document that contains the findings and research. Students submit these to get a professional degree.

It starts a debatable point on which one could agree or disagree. In simple terms, it is described as a research report in written format that includes a problem that needs to be dealt with. The researcher presents the conclusion. This researcher also makes statements that support the conclusion. Thesis writing is compulsory. In the thesis, our primary focus is always on the novelty of the research.

Introduction to the thesis statement

The thesis statement is simply a one-line sentence. It is usually presented in written form at the end of the first paragraph. It provides an argument for the person reading it. It is a sort of blueprint for the thesis, which directs the writer when writing a thesis and provides guidance to the reader who reads it.

An important key element of a thesis

Argument: The first important element is that the reason for agreeing with the proposition is more than just focusing on point of view.

Maintenance of Argument: The second element is the maintenance of the argument.

The argument must be cogent enough by presenting appropriate logic and evidence.

Proposition: The third important element in a thesis is the proposition. It propagates an idea or recommendation.

Features of a good thesis .

  • A good thesis adds freshness and new knowledge to a pre-existing thesis.
  • It helps to communicate the core idea of research in a simple, clear, and shorter way.
  • An efficient thesis is an important statement or question.
  • A good thesis gives answers to how and why various questions are associated with a topic.
  • To get rid of confusion. It is presented carefully.
  • The thesis at the end gives a good reason for those who are reading and keeps them engaged.
  • What is a research paper?

A research paper might be defined as a piece of plagiarism-free and original research. Here the term research is associated with the repetition of the term research. Recurring searches in various realms prove that the questions of the central thesis are called research.

A research paper consists of questions about the central thesis, if not regularly, then usually. A research paper can be classified into two parts. In this classification, one is qualitative and the other is quantitative. Academic writing takes the form of a research paper. It is created using the author's unique study on a particular subject, coupled with its analysis and interpretation of the results.

An author typically begins writing a research paper using what he already knows about the subject and then attempts to learn from specialists. Gathering the most information possible also entails a comprehensive and organized study on a certain topic. Simply put, a research paper is a written and published report. It abstracts or make appear the outcomes of a scientific research. In this example, the review article is a critique of a previously published scientific publication. while the original research article is basically a scientific study

In the case of the primary research article, the research paper's author offers crucial details regarding the study.

How is a research paper started?

I t is very pivotal to entail all the important sequences involved in writing a research paper. Without following all steps, a research paper will not be considered appropriate and right. When someone starts writing a research paper. One should always consider a topic that seems interesting but is also a bit challenging. Here, topic selection must be such that one can manage that topic easily. So, we can avoid these types of topics that are not simple and too technical, and the topic must not be such that very little information is available on it. The approach of researchers is an important factor that determines their efforts.

Steps of writing a research paper.

Picking the topic: The first and foremost step involved in writing a research paper is to choose a topic, which must be simple and as per the reader's interest. If we are starting with a topic that is not simple and per our likings, then it will be difficult for us to go through the topic and prepare a good research paper. So a good topic is indispensable. The selected topic can make a research project good or bad, which is why a lot of assertion is placed on the selection of an good topic.

Topic research : The second step is to do proper research on the topic. The research should be appropriate and factual. A research paper prepared without proper research will include wrong facts and information, which will not make it a good research paper. Research about a topic can be done through various sources to get the research correct, and these sources are selected as per the topic of the research.

Outlining: Outlining is necessary for the purpose of preparing a research paper.  It helps to get what the framework of the research paper is. The framework of a research paper gives a basic outline that needs to be followed while preparing a good research paper.

Performing actual writing: After choosing a topic, researching the topic, and making an outline, the next important step is to perform the actual writing of the research paper. It is possible only in circumstances when the writer has selected the apt topic. Then Conducted appropriate research. After this prepared a good framework to do the work of writing. In the end, after following all the steps, we can easily determine if our research paper is as per the mark or not. If it is not as expected, then changes can be made.

It can be done only when the writer has selected the appropriate topic, conducted proper research, and prepared a good framework to perform the writing. In the end, after following all the steps, we can easily determine if our research paper is as per the mark or not. If it is not as expected, then changes can be made.

Difference between a thesis and a research paper in tabular form .

  • The thesis is a type of document that has a broader description of the subject. In contrast, the research paper includes a less detailed description of that particular subject.
  • While the student submits the thesis for review by a committee of professors or an educational committee. In contrast, the research report is read and evaluated by scientists and other researchers.
  • The primary question or claim of an intellectual argument that calls for additional inquiry is the topic of the thesis. The research article, on the other hand, is concerned with supporting the main contention.
  • A thesis serves as a capstone undertaking. A research article, however, functions more like a journal's research manual.
  •  A document like a thesis is generally for a particular audience, usually at the graduate level. A research paper-type document can be presented for graduate- or undergraduate-level audiences.
  • The fundamental question or claim of a scholarly argument that motivates additional research is the focus of a thesis, whereas the main goal of a research paper is to support that claim.
  • Sometimes the term "thesis" is used in place of "research paper," but this is a rhetorical mistake when a part is used in place of the whole. The research paper normally includes the thesis statement, not the other way around.
  • When we talk about a thesis statement, we can see that it does not include methodology. But a research paper exhibits methodology. It may be quantitative or qualitative.

As we know that there are a lot of anti-foundational theories working against the classical model, as per these models, the lines of inquiry that come up as anti-theses must not be nullified. It might be presented conclusively that a research paper and a thesis have differences and similarities between them. Here the difference cause confusion to those who are dealing in these.

We have discussed various important points that will help you understand the difference between a thesis and a research paper. When the research paper is made public, it opens up job opportunities and fellowships for those who are new researchers. On the other hand, thesis writing helps students get a degree when the course is finished. These sound similar, but this can be elaborated on various grounds, and we hope this will help you understand the difference.

Table of Contents

  • Difference between a thesis and a research paper in tabular form.

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Dissertation vs Thesis: The Differences that Matter

Dissertation-vs-Thesis-The-Differences-that-Matter

As a graduate student, you will have many different types of challenging coursework and assignments. However, the biggest project that you’ll work on when earning your master’s or doctoral degree will be your thesis or dissertation . The differences between a dissertation vs thesis are plenty. That’s because each of these pieces of writing happen at different times in one’s educational journey.

Let’s break down what a dissertation and thesis are so that you have a strong handle on what’s expected. For both a thesis and a dissertation, there is an obvious fluency and understanding of the subject one studies.

Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences.

Photo by  Glenn Carstens-Peters  on  Unsplash

What is a dissertation.

When you enter a doctoral program to earn a PhD, you will learn a lot about how to conduct your own research. At the culmination of your degree program, you’ll produce a dissertation.

A dissertation is a lengthy piece of written work that includes original research or expanded research on a new or existing topic. As the doctoral student, you get to choose what you want to explore and write about within your field of study.

What is a Thesis?

A thesis is also a scholarly piece of writing, but it is for those who are graduating from a master’s program. A thesis allows students to showcase their knowledge and expertise within the subject matter they have been studying.

Main Differences Between a Thesis vs. Dissertation

The biggest difference between a thesis and a dissertation is that a thesis is based on existing research.

On the other hand, a dissertation will more than likely require the doctoral student to conduct their own research and then perform analysis. The other big difference is that a thesis is for master’s students and the dissertation is for PhD students.

Structural Differences Between a Thesis and a Dissertation

Structurally, the two pieces of written analysis have many differences.

  • A thesis is at least 100 pages in length
  • A dissertation is 2-3x that in length
  • A thesis expands upon and analyzes existing research
  • A dissertation’s content is mostly attributed to the student as the author

Research Content and Oral Presentation

Once completed, some programs require students to orally present their thesis and dissertation to a panel of faculty members.

Typically, a dissertation oral presentation can take several hours. On the other hand, a thesis only takes about an hour to present and answer questions.

Let’s look at how the two scholarly works are similar and different:

Similarities:

  • Each is considered a final project and required to graduate
  • Both require immense understanding of the material
  • Written skills are key to complete both
  • Neither can be plagiarized
  • Both are used to defend an argument
  • Both require analytical skills
  • You will have to draft, rewrite, and edit both pieces of writing
  • For both, it is useful to have another person look over before submission
  • Both papers are given deadlines

Differences:

  • A dissertation is longer than a thesis
  • A dissertation requires new research
  • A dissertation requires a hypothesis that is then proven
  • A thesis chooses a stance on an existing idea and defends it with analysis
  • A dissertation has a longer oral presentation component

The Differences in Context: Location Matters

The united states.

In the US, everything that was previously listed is how schools differentiate between a thesis and a dissertation. A thesis is performed by master’s students, and a dissertation is written by PhD candidates.

In Europe, the distinction between a thesis and dissertation becomes a little more cloudy. That’s because PhD programs may require a doctoral thesis to graduate. Then, as a part of a broader post-graduate research project, students may complete a dissertation.

Photo by  Russ Ward  on  Unsplash

The purpose behind written research.

Each piece of writing is an opportunity for a student to demonstrate his or her ability to think critically, express their opinions in writing, and present their findings in front of their department.

Graduate degrees take a lot of time, energy, and hard work to complete. When it comes to writing such lengthy and informative pieces, there is a lot of time management that is involved. The purpose of both a thesis and a dissertation are written proof that you understand and have mastered the subject matter of your degree.

Degree Types

A doctoral degree, or PhD, is the highest degree that one can earn. In most cases, students follow the following path to achieve this level of education: Earn a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s, and then a PhD. While not every job title requires this deep educational knowledge, the salaries that come along with each level of higher education increase accordingly.

Earning Your Degree

Whether you are currently a prospective student considering earning your higher education degree or a student enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program, you know the benefits of education.

However, for some, earning a traditional degree on-campus doesn’t make sense. This could be because of the financial challenges, familial obligations, accessibility, or any other number of reasons.

For students who are seeking their higher education degrees but need a flexible, affordable, and quality alternative to traditional college, take a look at the programs that the University of the People has to offer.

University of the People is an entirely online, US accredited and tuition-free institution dedicated to higher education. You can earn your Master’s in Business Administration or your Master’s in Education . Not to mention, there are a handful of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs to choose from as well.

If you want to learn more, get in touch with us !

The Bottom Line

Regardless of where and when you earn your master’s or doctoral degree, you will likely have to complete a thesis or dissertation. The main difference between a thesis and dissertation is the level at which you complete them. A thesis is for a master’s degree, and a dissertation is for a doctoral degree.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of having to research and write so much. Your educational journey has prepared you with the right time management skills and writing skills to make this feat achievable!

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Frequently asked questions

Should i use a research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement.

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

Frequently asked questions: Writing a research paper

A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question . Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative , descriptive , longitudinal , experimental , or correlational . What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them.

In general, they should be:

  • Focused and researchable
  • Answerable using credible sources
  • Complex and arguable
  • Feasible and specific
  • Relevant and original

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in Chicago style are to:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Include a title page
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center
  • Cite your sources with author-date citations or Chicago footnotes
  • Include a bibliography or reference list

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Set 1 inch page margins
  • Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
  • Center the paper’s title
  • Use title case capitalization for headings
  • Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end

To format a paper in APA Style , follow these guidelines:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page
  • Apply APA heading styles
  • Cite your sources with APA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a reference page at the end

No, it’s not appropriate to present new arguments or evidence in the conclusion . While you might be tempted to save a striking argument for last, research papers follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the results and discussion sections if you are following a scientific structure). The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

The conclusion of a research paper has several key elements you should make sure to include:

  • A restatement of the research problem
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or findings
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

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Planning Tank

Difference between a research paper, dissertation & thesis

When it comes to writing academic papers, students should have the right skills if they must succeed. Whether it is doing a weekly essay assignment, crafting a term paper, or doing research, the best learners are those who have mastered the art of literary composition. You should also note that understanding how each school paper differs from the other puts you ahead of the pack. Most of the schools, universities and institutions require you to undertake research at some point or another in form of coursework .

Often, students mistake research for term papers or thesis for dissertations. The worst-case scenario is when instead of writing a thesis; you end up with a dissertation paper. Such is an occurrence that often denies students marks. And so, the big question we want to answer in this post is what the differences between research, dissertation, and thesis are? Keep reading to learn more.

Writing Research

First things first note that variations between different types of academic papers could be in the form of writing style , definition, presentation of arguments, not to mention the purpose of writing and level of academia.  You should not expect high school students, for example, to partake in thesis writing. But when it comes to writing research papers, it can happen at any level of academia right from high school through college and university.

Note: There are differences in how these terminologies are used. In few countries they are used interchangeably, while in other countries thesis is related to bachelor’s or master’s degree course and dissertation is used in the context of a doctorate degree, whereas in some countries the reverse is true. For example, in Indian context, PhD students are required to submit a “thesis” whereas M. Phil students are required to submit a dissertation. Thesis is considered to be much longer form of research which is opposite in case of USA.

Differences based on the definition

Definitive differences between academic papers simplify things for a college newbie yet to write his or her academic paper. Now, on defining the thesis, research and dissertation, the following are worth noting:

  • A research paper refers to a piece of literary composition, often a class requirement. The most notable aspect of research papers is that before you craft them, you must gather knowledge independently. After collecting data and information, students then put together findings in a descriptive format. Learners must also present their arguments based on their evaluation of a subject under study. A good research paper opens the gates to advanced academic writing which will involve the implementation of findings.
  • A dissertation is a paper that students write as a requirement for the conferment of a diploma or degree. In some countries, Ph.D. students also write dissertations.
  • A thesis is a paper students craft as a requirement for a degree at college or university level. You do realize that all the three types of academic papers lead to something, often an academic qualification that would see one earn a degree or get admitted to the next level of academia.

Length of paper and methodology

While the methodology of writing these papers is similar, often constituting sections such as introduction, abstract, literature review, research method, presentation/finings, discussions, conclusion and recommendations, the length of each paper does vary. Research papers and dissertations are generally long. However, thesis papers tend to be short hence requiring less time to write. Dissertations and research require a comprehensive study of a study and gathering information/data. You, therefore, spend more time on them before and during writing. You may even use an editing service to help you research, write, and proofread your dissertation properly.

Differences based on knowledge inference and hypothesis

A hypothesis is an educated guess. Before you conduct a study, assumptions have to be made that something will turn out in some way. Most importantly, how the outcome will impact a population informs the construction of a hypothesis/thesis statement. In research and dissertation writing, students must exhibit a rigorous understanding of a subject based on a study. It is on this premise that they must come up with/infer a meaningful conclusion. However, when writing thesis papers, the formulation of a hypothesis comes after researching and writing on a subject.

Differences based on the approach

How students go about crafting research, dissertation and thesis is another way of differentiating the three papers. In writing research and dissertation papers, students must use existing pieces of literature to back their findings. However, thesis papers more often rely on existing research work to prove a point. You can, for example, sample different research papers on climate change to prove your study on the same. Ostensibly, you are using existing and published academic papers to ascertain that phenomena or a problem exist.

Mode of publication and utilization

You should also note that academic papers exhibit differences based on the reason for which they get published and also how people use them. Dissertation papers are like complete and newly published books given their voluminous nature. You could refer to yours as an academic book. It makes you a published author. However, thesis and research work are like articles that shed light on a subject but not as comprehensively as dissertations.

Differences based on the level of academia

While students can write research papers at any level, they are most common at the undergraduate level. Completion of a research paper often leads to the conferment of an undergraduate degree. And when it comes to writing dissertation papers, the bargain is qualifying for a master’s degree, thusly; postgraduate, Mphil or MBA.  It means if you are not writing a dissertation to obtain a postgraduate degree, you do so as a means of enrolling in a postgraduate program. Thesis papers lead to the conferment of a Ph.D. degree or a doctorate as some scholars call it. Students who write thesis papers do so within the last two years of their academic life.

Final Thoughts

Many factors distinguish academic papers. But regardless of the methodology or purpose of these papers, the most important thing is that students showcase their literary skills. Moreover, academic paper tests the knowledge of students on different issues and subjects. Whether it is writing about how past events led to present-day situations or how human activities will lead to something happening in the future, knowledge dispensation helps societies grow.

In the interest of time, research work involved in crafting academic papers is meant to unearth critical findings on a subject and provide solutions to an existing problem. As a rule of the thumb, students who write research, dissertation or thesis papers must demonstrate their understanding of the society and problems that bedevil it. It is through doing so that recommendations for solving a problem become trustworthy, dependable, acceptable and applicable. Most importantly, learners must meet a set academic threshold before writing the above papers.

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Research Paper vs Research Proposal v Thesis: 5 differences

Research Proposal vs Research Paper

Some students may be confused concerning the difference between a research proposal and a research paper. This is understandable if it is the first time a student is writing either of the two types of research.

This is because some students may have been used to writing essays that take a much simpler format and approach in writing the content.

Therefore, if you are one of those students who are not sure of the difference(s) between a research proposal and a research paper, do not worry.

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

Research Proposal vs Research Paper

Now, what is the difference between a research proposal and a research paper? This section will elaborate on the differences between the two while exploring their comparisons with other types of academic papers. 

A research proposal is a preliminary paper that is submitted to the instructor so that the researcher can be granted permission to proceed with the actual research paper. It proposes what the research project will be all about. On the other hand, a research paper is an academic piece that presents what one found out after in-depth research on a specified topic.

Let us understand each of them in deeper detail. What this means is that a research proposal “proposes” what the researcher will be going to tackle within the main paper.

As such, they should clarify or provide details as to what the main research paper will be tackling the topic, the expected hypothesis and claims, the type of studies used, the methodologies, the population in which the research will be conducted, and the expected implications of the research. 

A research proposal needs to demonstrate the importance of the actual research to the discipline and society in general. Without this, then the research proposal would not pass, and no actual research will be conducted to produce the research paper.

When it comes to the actual research paper, it can be regarded as the work that will be produced after the research proposal has been approved and a research go-ahead has been granted to the researcher(s).

Therefore, the research paper will be a complete paper that reports what has been researched, the findings of the studies conducted, and the discussions concerning the findings. It will not be like a research proposal that will be proposing things that will happen in the future.

It should be noted that this is a major or simplified difference between a research proposal and a research paper. The next sections of this article will discuss in detail the main differences between them, plus their differences with other types of papers. 

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What is a research proposal.

A research proposal can be regarded as an academic preliminary request for research that is meant to be submitted to the instructor before the writer or student is given the go-ahead to proceed with writing the research paper.

Research Proposal

What this means is that a research proposal will ‘propose’ what the research paper will be all about and the merits of the research to the discipline and society in general. 

Therefore, a research proposal is written before a research paper is written.

If a research proposal fails to be approved, then the researcher or student will not be allowed to write a research paper.

What is a Research Paper?

A research paper can be regarded as a formal academic piece written by students or researchers after the instructor or academic committee has approved their research proposals to tackle a particular research topic in a specific discipline to find solutions through qualitative and/or quantitative studies. 

Therefore, a research paper is a long piece of academic writing that utilizes the research proposal’s topic and claims to test a hypothesis. The research paper aims not to propose a study but to conduct an actual study that would benefit the discipline and society. 

Differences between a Research Proposal and a Research Paper

As we have noted above, there is a big difference between a research proposal and a research paper. Below are some of the major differences between the two:

1. The Time of Being Written

One of the most notable differences between a research proposal and a research paper is that a research proposal is written before a research paper. This is because a research proposal is meant to ‘propose’ what the writer, student, or researcher is going to write in their main research paper. As such, a research proposal has to be approved before a research paper is written. 

The second difference between a research proposal and a research paper is the purpose of the two pieces of writing. The main aim of a research proposal is to present to the instructor what will be tackled within the research paper. 

On the other hand, the purpose of a research paper is to academically present research that has already been conducted by the writer or the researcher. A research paper is a final presentation concerning a particular topic. 

3. Use of Grammatical Tenses

Another difference between a research proposal and a research paper is that while the proposal uses future tense (will be, shall be, and so on), a research paper uses a grammatical tense that describes things that have already been done.

This is because the research has already been conducted. When it comes to the analysis of the findings and discussions, the present tense can be used because things are unfolding. 

4. Context and Audience

rhetorical triangle

The context of a research proposal is to present “proposals” of ideas that will be used to build upon a research paper.

As such, the audience will be the instructor or a research committee that is meant to gauge the relevance of the proposal to the topic. 

On the other hand, a research paper is not formulated to lead to research but to describe the research.

Therefore, a research paper will target the instructor and any reader who is interested in the topic, discipline, or study. 

Finally, the difference between a research proposal and a research paper is the length. A research proposal is considerably shorter compared to a research paper because of the content. A research paper will contain a lot of detail concerning the topic, the type of research, the findings, discussions, and conclusions because research has already been conducted. 

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Difference Between a Thesis and a Research Proposal

The main difference between a thesis and a research proposal is their purpose. A thesis is a formal academic piece of writing done on a particular topic that has not yet been explored. This is why a thesis has a prospectus stage where the student has to consult with a committee. On the other hand, a research proposal proposes the topic and the research to be done.

Therefore, a research proposal will not require a prospectus stage or a committee, and it can be written by any student within an institution of higher learning.

However, an undergraduate student can also write a research proposal to their instructor to ‘propose’ a research paper.

Difference Between a Thesis and a Research Paper

The major difference between a thesis and a research paper is that a thesis is a longer and more detailed piece of writing that is written by post-graduate students, while a research paper will be comparatively shorter with fewer details because undergraduate students mostly write it.

Thesis vs Research Paper

As such, a thesis can take a very long time to write, for example, 20 years if it tackles socio-economic or environmental issues that may take a lot of time to unfold.

However, a research paper takes a shorter time to write. It may take even 3 months to complete a research paper because it does not explore very complex issues. 

The length also matters. A thesis is longer than a research paper by far. Check out the optimal length for a thesis compared to a research paper length and notice the difference.

Check out the guide on the differences in thesis vs theory vs hypothesis to get a wider idea of the three. This will help you know how these three are applied in a dissertation of a research paper.

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Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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Your instructor may ask you to provide a thesis statement, rather than a research question. The main difference between a thesis statement and a research question is that a thesis statement makes a claim upfront that you will attempt to validate in your paper. A thesis statement:

  • States your position on a topic
  • Is not always required when writing a research paper
  • Is often your research question reworded as a statement with a position

For more information on writing thesis statements, see UMGC's Online Guide to Writing and Research: Thesis Statement and Controlling Idea .

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  • Last Updated: Nov 9, 2023 10:44 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.umgc.edu/research-tutorial

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Thesis Vs. Dissertation — Know the difference and similarities!

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The academic world is filled with many different types of writing assignments, each with its own unique set of requirements and expectations. One common source of confusion for students is the distinction between a thesis and a dissertation. Both are long-form academic works, but there are several key differences between the two that are important to understand.

In Shakespeare’s day, a candidate for a master’s degree would write a thesis, an original paper in which he maintained a certain proposition. Whereas, completion of a doctoral program required submission and defense of a dissertation. He would read his thesis to his committee, after which he sat in silence while two faculty members gave point-by-point refutations of everything the candidate said.

The focus here was on the student’s ideas and his ability to arrange and express them clearly. If a student wished to advance further in academia he could pursue a dissertation. This was more of a  literature review . He would read widely in a particular area and write up his findings, discussing the various authorities and their opinions. The point was to demonstrate that he was well-versed in the literature of the field. While the confusion between the two terms is understandable, we shall tackle the dissertation vs. thesis topic in this article and provide unambiguous insights on it.

Table of Contents

What Is a Thesis?

A thesis is a critically written scholarly piece of research work. Typically, it is submitted by students graduating from a master’s program. The purpose of a thesis is to allow students to showcase their knowledge and expertise within the subject matter they have been studying as part of the program.

What Is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a comparatively lengthier piece of scholarly writing that accounts for your research work throughout the doctoral program. A researcher earns the Ph.D. after submitting and defending his/her dissertation. It includes all information about the original research or expanded research on a new or existing topic conducted by the Ph.D. candidate.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Differences

  • The primary difference between a thesis and a dissertation is the time when they are completed. As mentioned earlier, a thesis is presented at the culmination of a master’s program, whereas, a dissertation is presented to earn a Ph.D.
  • A thesis is a compilation of research ensuring that the researcher is well-informed and has knowledge about the research topic learned in the study program. On the other hand, a dissertation provides an opportunity for the researcher to contribute new theories and information to the existing literature in the research field.
  • A thesis is a presentation of learned and existing information, while the purpose of a dissertation is to develop a unique concept and defend it based on theoretical and practical results.
  • A master’s thesis is approximately 100 pages in length. However, a Ph.D. dissertation should be much longer than a thesis and must include background and research information. A dissertation must include your research proposal, grant proposal, literature review , ideation of research topic, and every other minute detail about your research. Ideally, a dissertation inclusive of all details mentioned above should be three times the length of a master’s thesis.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Similarities

  • Both a thesis and a dissertation are considered final projects and are required to graduate from respective programs.
  • The thesis and dissertation both require a deep and accurate understanding of the research problem.
  • Both forms of scholarly written pieces must address specific research questions.
  • Academic writing skills are imperative for a thesis as well as a dissertation.
  • Ethical practices must be followed while collating and documenting research data.
  • Plagiarism is not accepted in either.
  • Both require analytical skills to support the findings.
  • It is essential that both undergo intense dissertation/ thesis editing  and  critical proofreading  before final submission.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Europe

In Europe, the original distinction between a thesis and a dissertation has been largely retained. A doctoral thesis is a focused piece of original research that is performed to obtain a Ph.D. A dissertation is part of a broader post-graduate research project.

smartshorts_2

However, the thesis has evolved since original research nowadays requires plenty of background research . So, a thesis will contain extensive citations and references to earlier work, although the focus remains on the original work that comes out of it.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: USA

In the United States, the definition of a thesis is almost the opposite of that in Europe. Because a thesis is shorter than a dissertation it gradually came to mean a preliminary degree on the way to a doctorate. A thesis is now performed to earn a Master’s degree. In scientific fields, a master’s candidate takes advanced coursework and gains hands-on experience in a research project but does not direct the project to the same extent that he would in a doctoral program. In a master’s project, the student’s ideas are welcomed and expected but the focus is on obtaining technical expertise, not doing original research. Engineering students commonly obtain Master’s degrees and seldom go on to get PhDs. In other fields such as Chemistry, the opposite is true, with a Master’s degree no longer being required as the first step for a doctorate. Almost everyone I know who received a Master’s degree in Chemistry got one because they dropped out of graduate school and wrote their truncated research as a Master’s project.

In a Nutshell

Needless to say, the dissertation vs. thesis facts are real. Therefore, using one term instead of another is not acceptable as an academic. One must remember the purpose of each and use them accordingly. However, one is not undermined by the other. Whether you are writing a thesis or a dissertation, both must be done with the same seriousness. Both require critical technical and soft skills. Improving your time management and academic writing skills plays a major role in acing both forms of scholarly writing.

How do you decipher dissertation vs. thesis? Should the interchanged usage of these terms be acceptable? How is your approach to writing a thesis different from that of a dissertation? What are the other differences associated with the thesis and dissertation? Let us know in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions

"Dissertation" and "thesis" are used interchangeably but differ in: Academic Level: Thesis for master's, dissertation for doctoral degrees (US). Scope and Depth: Thesis shorter, demonstrates mastery; dissertation extensive, original research. Originality: Thesis may involve original analysis; dissertation presents significant new insights. Time and Effort: Dissertations require more resources and time than theses.

The length of a dissertation varies depending on factors like academic discipline, research topic, institution, and country. Generally, dissertations are longer than theses, ranging from 10,000 to over 100,000 words. However, word count alone does not reflect the quality or depth of the research. Guidelines from the academic institution should be consulted for specific requirements.

The length of a thesis varies depending on factors like academic discipline, research topic, institution, and country. Generally, the word count ranges from around 10,000 to 50,000 words. Specific guidelines from the academic institution should be consulted for precise requirements.

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Thesis and Purpose Statements

Use the guidelines below to learn the differences between thesis and purpose statements.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

As you revise your paper, try to phrase your thesis or purpose statement in a precise way so that it matches the content and organization of your paper.

Thesis statements

A thesis statement is a sentence that makes an assertion about a topic and predicts how the topic will be developed. It does not simply announce a topic: it says something about the topic.

Good: X has made a significant impact on the teenage population due to its . . . Bad: In this paper, I will discuss X.

A thesis statement makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of the paper. It summarizes the conclusions that the writer has reached about the topic.

A thesis statement is generally located near the end of the introduction. Sometimes in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or an entire paragraph.

A thesis statement is focused and specific enough to be proven within the boundaries of the paper. Key words (nouns and verbs) should be specific, accurate, and indicative of the range of research, thrust of the argument or analysis, and the organization of supporting information.

Purpose statements

A purpose statement announces the purpose, scope, and direction of the paper. It tells the reader what to expect in a paper and what the specific focus will be.

Common beginnings include:

“This paper examines . . .,” “The aim of this paper is to . . .,” and “The purpose of this essay is to . . .”

A purpose statement makes a promise to the reader about the development of the argument but does not preview the particular conclusions that the writer has drawn.

A purpose statement usually appears toward the end of the introduction. The purpose statement may be expressed in several sentences or even an entire paragraph.

A purpose statement is specific enough to satisfy the requirements of the assignment. Purpose statements are common in research papers in some academic disciplines, while in other disciplines they are considered too blunt or direct. If you are unsure about using a purpose statement, ask your instructor.

This paper will examine the ecological destruction of the Sahel preceding the drought and the causes of this disintegration of the land. The focus will be on the economic, political, and social relationships which brought about the environmental problems in the Sahel.

Sample purpose and thesis statements

The following example combines a purpose statement and a thesis statement (bold).

The goal of this paper is to examine the effects of Chile’s agrarian reform on the lives of rural peasants. The nature of the topic dictates the use of both a chronological and a comparative analysis of peasant lives at various points during the reform period. . . The Chilean reform example provides evidence that land distribution is an essential component of both the improvement of peasant conditions and the development of a democratic society. More extensive and enduring reforms would likely have allowed Chile the opportunity to further expand these horizons.

For more tips about writing thesis statements, take a look at our new handout on Developing a Thesis Statement.

what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Developing a Thesis Statement

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

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Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

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What Is The Difference Between Thesis And Research Paper? Discover Here!

What Is The Difference Between Thesis And Research Paper Discover Here!

Are you confused about the difference between thesis and research paper? Well, we all have heard about these two in our graduation and master’s but are unaware of their characteristics. 

A thesis is a long-form academic writing document presenting the author’s original research and findings. In contrast, a research paper is a short, highly focused academic paper that can be written for various purposes. There are more differences other than this, which are further discussed in this blog.

Furthermore, if you want to pursue higher education , consider visiting the Bansal Group of Institutes . They offer software engineering , computer science engineering , electrical engineering, and various other courses. Now, let us understand the major difference between thesis and research paper.

Table of Contents 

1. What Is A Thesis?

2. What Is Thesis Statement?

3. What Is Research Paper?

4. How To Start A Research Paper?

5. Difference Between Thesis And Research Paper

6. The Final Say

What Is A Thesis?

A thesis is a long-form academic writing document which presents the author’s original research and findings. It is generally submitted in the final semester of a master’s or bachelor’s degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience, but it is also an opportunity to showcase your research skills and knowledge in a particular field.

A thesis consists of three parts:

1. Introduction

This includes briefly describing the thesis statement. It should also provide background information on the topic and explain the significance of the research.

It is the main content of the thesis that includes the research work and results in support of the thesis statement. This part needs to be organised into chapters or sections, each addressing an aspect of the research.

3. Conclusion

This should include a thesis statement and an overall summary of the main findings of the research. It should also discuss the findings’ implications and suggest research prospects for the future.

A thesis should be well-written and organised and use clear and concise language. It should also be free of errors in grammar and mechanics.

What Is Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence that states the main point or claim of the research. It is usually expressed in one sentence containing the topic and the working idea.

A good thesis statement should be:

  • Specific : The thesis statement should be specific that can be supported with relevant evidence.
  • Concise: The thesis statement should be concise and easy to understand. 
  • Arguable: It should be a claim that can be debated or argued. It should not be a casual statement of fact that everyone already agrees with.
  • Supported: It should be supported with evidence (references) from previous research findings. 

What Is Research Paper?

A research paper is a written document that shows the results of original research or an evaluation of research conducted by others. It is a short, highly focused academic paper that can be written for various purposes. It is usually based on secondary research and does not require the researcher to contribute much to the project.

Understanding The Different Sections of the Research Paper

The different sections of the research paper are:

The title of the research paper should be clear, concise, and informative.

2. Abstract

An abstract is a summary of the research paper. It should be no more than 250 words long. It should include the overall gist of the research and the significant findings.

3. Introduction

The introduction should state the thesis statement, which is the main argument or claim of the research paper. It should also provide background information collected from various references on the topic and explain the significance of the research.

4. Literature Review

The literature review is a survey of the existing research on the topic. It should identify the current theories and findings and discuss how the research paper will contribute to the existing knowledge.

5. Materials & Methods

This section should describe the major materials and methods used in conducting the research. It should include:

1. Information about the research protocol

2. The data collection methods

3. The data analysis methods etc.

The results section should describe the research findings. It should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.

7. Discussion

The discussion section should interpret the findings of the research. It should discuss the implications of the findings, and it should suggest future research directions.

8. References

The references section should list all the sources used in the research paper.

How To Start A Research Paper?

Here are a few points that need to be focused on while writing a research paper:

1. One should always go for an interesting and challenging topic to start writing a research paper. 

2. The key to choosing the topic is to pick the one you can manage. So, avoid topics that are very technically specialised and those for which data is not readily available. 

3. Also, do not go for any controversial topic as it may create irrelevant problems in discussion.

Difference Between Thesis And Research Paper

The differences between thesis and research paper are:

The Final Say

There are key differences between thesis and research paper. A thesis is a lengthy, detailed academic writing document typically required to complete a master’s or doctoral degree. 

A research paper, on the other hand, is a short, highly focused academic paper that can be written for various purposes. It is usually based on secondary research and does not require the researcher to contribute much to the project.

If you want to pursue a master’s degree program , consider checking out the Bansal Group of Institutes. They offer a range of subjects, including engineering , M.Pharma, Nursing etc.

1. What is a research paper?

A research paper, on the other hand, is a short, highly focused academic paper that can be written for various purposes. 

2. What is a thesis?

A thesis is a lengthy, detailed academic writing document typically required to complete a master’s or doctoral degree.

3. What is a thesis statement?

 A thesis statement is a sentence that states the main point or claim of an essay or research paper. 

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Critical Writing Program: Decision Making - Spring 2024: Researching the White Paper

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Research the White Paper

Researching the White Paper:

The process of researching and composing a white paper shares some similarities with the kind of research and writing one does for a high school or college research paper. What’s important for writers of white papers to grasp, however, is how much this genre differs from a research paper.  First, the author of a white paper already recognizes that there is a problem to be solved, a decision to be made, and the job of the author is to provide readers with substantive information to help them make some kind of decision--which may include a decision to do more research because major gaps remain. 

Thus, a white paper author would not “brainstorm” a topic. Instead, the white paper author would get busy figuring out how the problem is defined by those who are experiencing it as a problem. Typically that research begins in popular culture--social media, surveys, interviews, newspapers. Once the author has a handle on how the problem is being defined and experienced, its history and its impact, what people in the trenches believe might be the best or worst ways of addressing it, the author then will turn to academic scholarship as well as “grey” literature (more about that later).  Unlike a school research paper, the author does not set out to argue for or against a particular position, and then devote the majority of effort to finding sources to support the selected position.  Instead, the author sets out in good faith to do as much fact-finding as possible, and thus research is likely to present multiple, conflicting, and overlapping perspectives. When people research out of a genuine desire to understand and solve a problem, they listen to every source that may offer helpful information. They will thus have to do much more analysis, synthesis, and sorting of that information, which will often not fall neatly into a “pro” or “con” camp:  Solution A may, for example, solve one part of the problem but exacerbate another part of the problem. Solution C may sound like what everyone wants, but what if it’s built on a set of data that have been criticized by another reliable source?  And so it goes. 

For example, if you are trying to write a white paper on the opioid crisis, you may focus on the value of  providing free, sterilized needles--which do indeed reduce disease, and also provide an opportunity for the health care provider distributing them to offer addiction treatment to the user. However, the free needles are sometimes discarded on the ground, posing a danger to others; or they may be shared; or they may encourage more drug usage. All of those things can be true at once; a reader will want to know about all of these considerations in order to make an informed decision. That is the challenging job of the white paper author.     
 The research you do for your white paper will require that you identify a specific problem, seek popular culture sources to help define the problem, its history, its significance and impact for people affected by it.  You will then delve into academic and grey literature to learn about the way scholars and others with professional expertise answer these same questions. In this way, you will create creating a layered, complex portrait that provides readers with a substantive exploration useful for deliberating and decision-making. You will also likely need to find or create images, including tables, figures, illustrations or photographs, and you will document all of your sources. 

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  2. 6 Major difference between Thesis and Research Paper

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  3. Thesis vs. Dissertation vs. Research Paper

    what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

  4. Dissertation vs. Thesis: What’s the Difference?

    what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

  5. Dissertation vs Thesis: What You Need to Know

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  6. Thesis vs. Dissertation vs. Research Paper

    what is the difference between a thesis and a research paper

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  1. THESIS VS. DISSERTATION VS. RESEARCH

  2. Differences Between Thesis Abstract and Research Article Abstract

  3. Thesis or Research paper writing for beginners

  4. What is a thesis Statement

  5. Why was my Thesis/Research Rejected???

  6. Parts of Thesis & Research Paper

COMMENTS

  1. Thesis vs. Research Paper: Know the Differences

    Research Paper: A research paper is also an academic document, albeit shorter compared to a thesis. It consists of conducting independent and extensive research on a topic and compiling the data in a structured and comprehensible form.

  2. Research Paper vs Thesis: What's the Difference?

    Introduction to Research Paper vs Thesis When it comes to academic writing, research paper and thesis can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Despite their similarities, they have several distinct differences that make them unique entities. Research Paper: It is a piece of scholarly work or an in-depth analysis on a specific topic.

  3. Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper: Unraveling the

    Difference Between Thesis and Research paper (Tabular Form) Difference Between Thesis and Research paper Purpose and Objective Thesis Research Paper Scope and Depth Thesis Research Paper Originality and Contribution Thesis Research Paper Structure and Formatting Thesis Research Paper Evaluation and Audience Thesis Research Paper

  4. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  5. Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

    Comparison Chart What is Thesis? The thesis is a document containing the research and findings that students submit to get the professional qualification or degree. It has to be argumentative, which proposes a debatable point with which people could either agree or disagree.

  6. Thesis vs. Research Paper: What's the Difference?

    A thesis is a lengthy document representing original research and findings for an academic degree, while a research paper is an analysis or argument based on existing literature. Key Differences A thesis and research paper both pertain to academic writing but serve different functions.

  7. How to Format a Thesis for a Research Paper

    Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly What is a thesis statement in a research paper? A thesis statement is a single sentence in a research paper that plainly and succinctly explains the main point the research attempts to prove.

  8. What is the Difference Between Thesis and Research Paper

    The main difference between thesis and research paper is that thesis is a long academic paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree, while research paper is a piece of academic writing on a particular topic.

  9. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research ...

  10. Dissertation vs. Thesis—What's the Difference?

    In American English, a dissertation is a research paper that's required to earn a doctorate degree, while a thesis is a research paper required to earn a master's degree.

  11. Dissertation vs Thesis: Your 2024 Guide

    Frequently Asked Questions Conclusion What Is a Thesis? A thesis is an academic paper or project that's completed towards the end of a master's degree program. It is typically completed as the capstone project, meaning it's the final project required for a student to graduate.

  12. What is a research paper?

    A research paper is a paper that makes an argument about a topic based on research and analysis. Any paper requiring the writer to research a particular topic is a research paper. Unlike essays, which are often based largely on opinion and are written from the author's point of view, research papers are based in fact.

  13. Thesis vs. Research Paper

    A thesis, also known as a dissertation, is usually connected with PG studies, i.e., taught at the Master's degree, M.Phil., or Ph.D. level, and is performed under the guidance of an academic professional of the respective university. A guide or supervisor is the person who oversees and guides the progress of the person writing the thesis.

  14. PDF Thesis

    Thesis Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs

  15. Dissertation vs Thesis: The Differences that Matter

    Differences: A dissertation is longer than a thesis. A dissertation requires new research. A dissertation requires a hypothesis that is then proven. A thesis chooses a stance on an existing idea and defends it with analysis. A dissertation has a longer oral presentation component.

  16. Should I use a research question, hypothesis, or thesis ...

    Should I use a research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement? The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper. A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement.

  17. Difference between a research paper, dissertation & thesis

    A thesis is a paper students craft as a requirement for a degree at college or university level. You do realize that all the three types of academic papers lead to something, often an academic qualification that would see one earn a degree or get admitted to the next level of academia. Length of paper and methodology

  18. Research Paper vs Research Proposal v Thesis: 5 differences

    Research Paper vs Research Proposal v Thesis: 5 differences Published by Josh Jasen at October 25, 2023 Some students may be confused concerning the difference between a research proposal and a research paper. This is understandable if it is the first time a student is writing either of the two types of research.

  19. research process

    A masters thesis (thesis is Greek for 'I believe') can be either an assembly of new knowledge from new published research or simply a critique and integration. It might have propositions (not hypotheses) that the masters student offers as a conclusion from bringing together new knowledge from different sources.

  20. UMGC Library: Research Tutorial: What Is a Thesis Statement?

    The main difference between a thesis statement and a research question is that a thesis statement makes a claim upfront that you will attempt to validate in your paper. A thesis statement: States your position on a topic; Is not always required when writing a research paper; Is often your research question reworded as a statement with a position

  21. Dissertation vs. Thesis: A Comparison

    The primary difference between a thesis and a dissertation is the time when they are completed. As mentioned earlier, a thesis is presented at the culmination of a master's program, whereas, a dissertation is presented to earn a Ph.D. A thesis is a compilation of research ensuring that the researcher is well-informed and has knowledge about ...

  22. Thesis and Purpose Statements

    UW-Madison Writer's Handbook Writing Process and Structure Thesis and Purpose Statements Thesis and Purpose Statements Use the guidelines below to learn the differences between thesis and purpose statements. In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

  23. What Is The Difference Between Thesis And Research Paper?

    A thesis is a long-form academic writing document presenting the author's original research and findings. In contrast, a research paper is a short, highly focused academic paper that can be written for various purposes. There are more differences other than this, which are further discussed in this blog.

  24. Capstone Project vs. Thesis: What's the Difference?

    The thesis, also called a "dissertation," is a super-sized form of a research paper that serves as the final project before you complete your master's degree or doctoral degree. One of the primary differences between a thesis and a capstone is the scholarly nature of the thesis, which allows you to contribute valuable research to your ...

  25. Researching the White Paper

    Researching the White Paper: The process of researching and composing a white paper shares some similarities with the kind of research and writing one does for a high school or college research paper. What's important for writers of white papers to grasp, however, is how much this genre differs from a research paper.