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Research paper examples

In this post, we are going to cover some different types of research papers. If you’re looking for specific examples of research papers. You can register at Avidnote for free (click here) and begin searching for research papers inside the app.

Examples of different types of academic papers

Term papers

A term paper is a formal piece of writing which a student is mandated to write during an academic term [or semester], as part of his or her grading. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a major written assignment in a school or college course representative of a student’s achievement during a term”.  A term paper should be an original work that discusses a topic in detail.

Most term papers usually consist of several typed pages and are often required to be submitted at the end of the semester. There is often some misunderstanding about the terms research paper and term paper. A term paper was originally a written assignment, usually a research-based paper, which the student was required to submit at the end of the “term” [either a semester or quarter, depending on the unit of measure used by the school]. However, all term papers are not based on academic research, and all research papers are not term papers.

Seminar papers

In a tertiary institution, a seminar paper is a work of original research which a post-graduate student has to present as part of his or her degree coursework. It is usually a distinct course on its own that is evaluated and graded albeit it usually serves as a dress rehearsal for a thesis.

On completing the paper, students are required to present a summary of it in the form of a seminar [often in PowePoint format on a projector] to a select audience of lecturers in the department after which they are scored. The scores are determined by the strength of the paper as well as the oral presentation. In terms of size, a seminar paper is usually larger than a term paper and smaller than a thesis.

Journal articles

A journal is a scholarly publication made up of a compilation of articles written by researchers, including professors and other subject matter experts. Journals publish the most recent research studies and usually concentrate on a specific discipline or field of study. Unlike newspapers and magazines, journals are meant for an academic or technical audience.

Most journal articles are:

  • written by experts
  • peer-reviewed by colleagues familiar with the field
  • present original research
  • display current results
  • cite works from other studies and
  • include bibliographies

Journals often have both a print version and an online version (although print is becoming less popular).

Most journals are published at specific time intervals (monthly, quarterly, etc.). They are also sequentially numbered. Each copy is an issue and a collection of issues constitutes a volume (usually, all the issues for one year make up a volume). Like newspapers and magazines, journals are also referred to as periodicals or serials.

Undergraduate projects

An undergraduate research project is part of the coursework required to award a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. It is written during the student’s final year in the institution. The Council on Undergraduate Research defines undergraduate research as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.”

Undergraduate research is a somewhat recent development in academia, originating around the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was particularly popularized by the establishment of MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) in 1969. Expectedly, research approaches and methods vary according to the field of study. But whatever approach adopted, the major goal is that the project produces original work that helps develop the student’s organizational, analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. 

Master’s thesis

In tertiary education, a thesis is a research paper that a postgraduate student [mostly master’s degree level] is required to write before he or she successfully completes the program. It often takes months [sometimes years] to finish a thesis. The major objective of thesis writing is for the student to demonstrate their ability to conduct research and hence:

  • the capacity to identify pertinent educational/societal problems
  • critically analyze the literature
  • communicate the procedures for and results of the research
  • present a detailed methodology and accurate results
  • verify knowledge claims and sources meticulously
  • contribute to the existing stock of knowledge in the field

Doctoral dissertations

A dissertation [or doctoral thesis], is a research study that a student is mandated to conduct before being awarded a doctorate degree. It usually commences after the student must have completed his or her coursework. Hence, it is the last step for the completion of a Ph.D. or other doctoral program. Typically, a dissertation is an opportunity for students to research and present their findings in response to a pertinent question, problem, or proposition that they choose themselves.

The aim is to scrutinize the independent research skills which the doctoral candidates must have internalized during their time at the university. They are then graded based on the strength of their performance. Although the doctoral student is guided by his or her supervisor, they are expected to write the dissertation independently. In social science and science programs, the dissertation usually involves empirical research.

In some countries, a dissertation can mean the same thing as a thesis. In others, a dissertation strictly refers to a Ph.D. project while the term thesis denotes a master’s project.  For most students, a dissertation will be the longest, most tedious, and most important academic task they’ll face while at their university, often requiring months of preparation and hard work including voracious reading and frequent consultations. However, it can also be very rewarding because it helps to hone the student’s intellect and professional expertise as well as help turn him or her into an authority in the field.

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