The variety of academic assignments is quite astonishing, isn’t it? Yet, some teachers use the types interchangeably. There are theses called dissertations and vice versa, case studies being a part of essays, and meta-analysis considered a part of SLRs by default. And what about term and research papers? What should one know before starting to prepare one?

If you don’t like to get into details, you can buy a paper just like many other students buy essay online from professionals. Yet, if you would like to figure out how one is different from another, we suggest that you go through the points listed below. 


Topic Selection

The rules of topic selection are the same for both papers. You are either assigned a topic or can choose it yourself. Of course, it should be related to the matters discussed during lectures and in study materials. However, it is not a must to get approval before starting writing something in contrast to the cases with final papers, theses, or dissertations.

Basic Requirements

As with any academic assignment, both are expected to be properly formatted and have one referencing style. If one is not indicated in instructions, you can stick to MLA or APA – the most common ones. The other rules are as follows:

  • bibliography section is a must;
  • plagiarizing or using a lot of direct quotes is a don’t;
  • the general flow “Introduction, Body, Conclusion” is applicable to both assignments.

Term Paper Can Be a Research One

That’s the last similarity that can bring a lot of confusion. So, are term papers a more general type of assignment? At some institutions, they can be. Even in an occasional Essay Hub review, one can see these terms used interchangeably. If the assignment is to investigate a topic based on evidence, using a methodological approach, and produce a term paper reaching at least 10 pages, then it’s a research paper as well. Do clarify it with your teacher to avoid ambiguities.



The structural differences are the main ones that help distinguish between the two. Research papers should be split into the following chapters.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Results/Findings
  • Discussion/Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Reflection (optional)

Usually, term papers don’t have questions or hypotheses to explore or test. There are also no appendices, but an annotated bibliography can be requested by some teachers. 


An addressed problem like a literature gap or a contradiction in it is a sign of a good research paper. The latter won’t get a pass if it simply summarizes knowledge, but a term one is all about summarizing what students processed during a course.


Term papers can be voluminous in comparison to some essays, but not as long as research ones. The latter can start from 10 pages (considering one page contains 275 words) and have up to 40, if not more. 

Meanwhile, term papers rarely reach even 20 pages and can be as long as 1000 words too. Basically, they are the bridge between essays and research: they don’t presuppose serious data collection and analysis yet, but they are not about creative writing anymore as well.

Deadline & Grade

As it is clear from the name, a term paper is related to the assessment at the end of a course. It is given at the end of a semester and always determines the final grade. Although research papers can also influence your grade, it differs based on the assignment criteria. 

For example, a 10-page research paper won’t influence your grade a lot. It’s not the reason to underestimate this task, though. The skills acquired during its completion may be of great help for you in the next years at college or university. In addition, it never hurts to earn some extra points to be on the safe side.

Style of Writing

Both types of tasks require analysis, but it’s much simpler to meet the criteria for a term one. It allows the author to include their personal opinion if it’s supported with some evidence. Yet, in research, it’s all about the evidence and problem-solving steps, while a personal opinion is acceptable only in such sections as Reflection. 

Primary Data

Unless a term paper presupposes conducting research as exemplified in the similarities, it shouldn’t have primary data (interviews, questionnaires, experiments, photos taken by the author, etc.). First of all, gathering such data is a time-consuming process. Second, you simply won’t be able to squeeze all the details into a 3-4-page term paper.


To inexperienced students, term and research papers can seem like almost identical tasks. However, as you can see, the approaches are quite different. Whenever you are given an academic assignment, ask for all possible guidelines and marking criteria. They are the first documents that should guide your writing process. And if you’re not provided with any, consider the points above to complete the assignment correctly.

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