Whether you are attending a college or university or pursuing a career in a trade like medicine, there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing plenty about a “research paper” and a “journal article.”
Both forms of writing are popular methods used by educators and employers to gain perspective on a topic or subject from colleagues and students.
To understand the difference between both methods of writing, one should understand what each form is and how people utilize them.
This article will look at both writing styles and dissect the differences between the two.
History professor, Dr. Jane Simonsen once said with regards to research papers that, “the work and design are your own, but you can’t do it without relying on the efforts and wisdom of others.”
Simonsen is correct with her notion. A research paper is a form of writing, usually used in the world of academia by students in colleges or universities assigned to investigate and research a topic, in which they find their conclusion.
The student is encouraged and often required to support their findings with facts from reputable sources. A typical research paper can range anywhere from 5-15 pages in total length.
A student’s work will organize in the structure after compiling all the appropriate information from sources. Instructors often do this to teach the student balance in their writing skills, while encouraging structural discipline and accepted formatting.
Furthermore, according to A Research Guide for Students, research papers take the original information of the topic, and after gathering the data from the investigative stage, the student sums it up with clear and concise analysis and disposition or thesis.
Indeed, most research papers feature a thesis statement from the assigned topic. Also, Purdue.Edu states that a student may be required to write one of the two types of research papers.
Argumentative Research Paper
The student will take a controversial subject, create an intro, inform the audience of the topic and explain their stance known as a thesis.
Analytical Research Paper
The student is required to critique a subject, which is usually in the form of a question mostly known as an essay or exploration.
A research paper uses all major citation formats (APA, MLA, Chicago), and is aligned with a clear focus, clear thesis, and dives into a topic or subject separating fact and opinion, or reliable and bias while reaching a conclusion or position. You may have heard research paper referred to a research project, research paper, or term paper.
According to Simon Fraser University, a journal article is an article that is written about a very specific topic. Furthermore, you’ll typically see a journal article authored by an expert in some field written by another expert in the same respective field. This kind of writing is also called “peer reviews.”
A journal article is a short paper on a particular topic that gets mainly published in issues or periodicals. It will often include up to date research on that subject, including recent developments, reviews on a method or product, short papers previewing ideas.
With a journal article, you may find information, for example, on the latest medicine or techniques in a certain field. For example; “The latest methods used in 21st-century medicine to eradicate a headache.”
Other examples of journal articles include peer reviews, case studies, scholarly articles, scientific and social science articles. Journal articles get published in a publication after extensive research in that corresponding field has been done. Publication Manual calls journal articles a way to categorize primary literature or review articles.
Now, what are some of the key differences between these two methods of writing?
Research papers are written traditionally by a student at a university or college, and the work is typically assigned. A journal article is an article, about a subject that has recently researched or reviewed and written by an expert in that field.
While both forms utilize the same techniques, a research paper gets done under the evaluation of a teacher or instructor.
Another small difference is the extent of the references used. Most often in a journal article, a reader can expect to find an extensive bibliography, whereas a research paper won’t warrant as extensive of a reference list.
A research paper doesn’t get published in any publication unless it’s in reference on how to write one, where journal article gets submitted to periodicals or magazines.
A journal article reviews a possible or current idea and writes about the impacts. A research paper may offer a thesis, but it’s not quite as in-depth.
Formatting and lengths, traditionally, are opposites as well. A journal article could be 15 pages, but often it isn’t. The structure in communicating the research will look different than that of a research paper, which may include double spacing and indenting.
Finally, a research paper isn’t authored to present original research, but rather to show empirical data, where a journal article will explain to the reader of its original findings.
In addition to the differences between these methods, there exist some similarities i.e.: they both use clear and concise formatting or grammatical structuring as well as list references and conclusions.
Examples of how the two are different:
The research paper will have the student’s name, class, date, and instructor all in the left corner of the paper, while the title is centered.
The journal article will have the title of the work at the top and center. The author/s names will be below, and the format will follow much as a magazine article would.
The key difference is the use of each. One is for practice in writing, and the other is a certain practice for fellow practitioners.
That said, one (research paper) is used more as a way to educate a student on how to write clearly and effectively about a topic, while the other (journal article) is written to educate the reader on a subject or idea.