A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Thesis and Research Paper

Being a university student, making a thesis and research papers is common. However, are you sure about what exactly a thesis is and what is a research paper? If you have been confused about both, this blog is likely to help you. It is a common reason for the students to fail their assessments as they cannot understand why a thesis or research paper is different. Most students consider them the same and do not understand the key difference between the two. It is vital for the students to learn this difference before they work on any of these so that they can successfully manage it effectively. A thesis is a unique document from a research paper. These two differ from each other in terms of content, structure, language, references and writing style. So, we take the differences between the two one by one to know exactly what makes them so apart.


  • Definitions
    • Well, a thesis is an elaborated piece of content, i.e. it is a document written by the student for his higher education. This helps in gaining an academic degree. A thesis is a huge document which requires huge academic evaluation.
    • A research paper is an academic paper the student writes which on a particular topic and helps in qualifying a course. A research paper is brief but requires quality content.
  • Purpose
    • The purpose of the thesis is to prepare a detailed account of a topic by conducting thorough research and referring several resources from scholars.
    • A research paper is different since its purpose is to prove a key argument. The research paper is brief and mentions key points only so that it addresses the purpose.
  • Length
    • You need to invest ample time in writing a thesis. A thesis is very lengthy and can go up to 20,000 – 30,000 depending upon the institution or researcher. It can take several months to complete a thesis.
    • A research paper can have 1000-3000 words based on the university. A research paper can be written in a month.
  • Structure
    • As stated above, the thesis is very lengthy, so it has a fixed structure; Introduction, Literature Review, Method, Findings, Results. These sections are vital for addressing the purpose of the thesis appropriately.
    • A research paper also has several sections including Introduction, Body and Conclusion. The body of the paper varies from topic to topic. In certain instances, universities can provide fixed sections while in certain situations, researchers can have the liberty to choose.
  • Writing Style
    • Writing a thesis is difficult and you need to be well-organised to develop it effectively. Since it is lengthy so you have to plan it well in advance so that you can plan all the sections well. A thesis has to be written in a well-defined way so that content can be effective.
    • A research paper is concise because of which the researcher has to focus on the sections that he prepared in the blueprint. A research paper revolves around the argument, either for or against the topic.
  • Conclusion
    • So by now, we are sure that you are familiar with the differences between a thesis and a research paper. You should use the right writing style when doing a research paper or a thesis. You ensure that you understand this difference well so that you can write a thesis or a research paper, whatever needed appropriately.