Types of Research Papers

Most research assignments ask you to engage in one of two approaches:

  1. Explore and evaluate (present an analysis)
  2. Persuade (present an argument)

The tabs below will give you more information about each type. Your professor may allow you to choose between these strategies or may ask you to use only one. If you’re not sure which type you should use, be sure to ask!

Analytical PapersArgumentative Papers

A person writing a paper while surrounded by stacks of research.

In a paper that explores and evaluates, you may present a specific analysis of a literary text, you may examine how a historical figure came to his or her beliefs, or you may analyze how changes in a particular animal’s habitat have affected its breeding patterns.

Your purpose isn’t to rebut another critic’s reading of that text, challenge another writer’s analysis of that historical figure’s growth, or disprove another experimenter’s theorem. Instead, your focus is on researching and presenting your own analysis of a set of materials or experiments.

Examples of Analytical Questions

In what way is Coleridge’s poem, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” an extended metaphor of colonial exploration?

Why was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stance against the Vietnam War late in his life so controversial in the civil rights movement?

What methods are available to governments and zoos to ensure the preservation of endangered tigers?

Business woman pointing aside with a critical look

An argumentative paper takes a position on a debatable question. Here, you review the various arguments surrounding that question and present material arguing for a particular answer.

A good argument paper not only fairly and clearly presents the views of those with whom you disagree, but also points out where and how you believe those arguments are flawed.

In this paper, you need to show why your argument presents a stronger response to the question than the responses of others who might disagree with your position.

Examples of Argumentative Questions

Should employers be allowed to monitor the content of their employees’ email and internet browsing?

Should the U.S. government subsidize the development of ethanol-based biofuels?

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