Research papers are common assignments for college students. The papers are original written works of several typed pages in length, which use information gathered through a search of other sources to describe an event, explain a concept, or argue a point. Each type of research paper has its own stylistic traits and purposes. Two of the most common types of research paper are the argumentative research paper and the analytical research paper.

Common Elements of Research Papers

There are two common traits all research papers share. First, research papers include information from other sources, which may be primary or secondary sources. Second, research papers are original works. Plagiarism, or the representation of someone else's work as your own, is a serious offense at the college level. To avoid plagiarism, information from other sources must be properly cited and all direct quotations must be properly formatted.

Argumentative Research Paper

An argumentative research paper presents two sides of an issue and aims to persuade the reader that one side is more correct than the other. In the introduction, you clearly state the issue and include a thesis statement that informs the reader which side you intend to argue for. In the body of the paper, you present the two sides of the issue one at a time. Your explanation of each side should include both pros and cons, and be supported by evidence from primary and secondary sources. In the conclusion, you restate your thesis and explain why the evidence you have provided in the body proves that your viewpoint on the issue is the most valid.

Analytical Research Paper

An analytical research paper presents several points of view on an issue but, unlike an argumentative research paper, does not aim to persuade the reader than any side is more correct than the rest. In the introduction, you clearly state the issue and provide a very short summary of each point of view you are going to examine. In the first section of the body, you provide a more in-depth summary of each point of view. In the second section, you make a claim about how the points of view presented interact, contradict and/or support each other, followed by an analysis that supports this claim using information from the first section as evidence. In the conclusion, you summarize your findings and may also choose to suggest avenues for further research.

Other Types of Research Papers

Other types of research paper that you may come across include critical analysis research papers, descriptive research papers, expository research papers, opinion research papers, exploratory research papers and definition research papers. With any research paper, it is helpful to know the requirements and structure of the type you are using before you begin.