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Research Paper and Term Paper: Spotting the Difference

The two terms, term paper and research paper are mostly used interchangeably. Most students don’t know the difference between the two. Until you have come across the two assignments, you won’t be able to differentiate them. 

However, the right understanding of the two will equip you with the ability to meet up with your instructor’s standard. Both research papers and term papers have things in common. Likewise, they have differences. 

But until they are assigned to students, they tend not to understand the difference. This article will guide you on the differences between the two and how to write top research papers. 

What is a Term Paper? 

A term paper is an assignment assigned to students at the end of a semester term. A custom term paper will have its elements like introduction, body, conclusion, and bibliography. In each of the chapters, you give support to your main idea or thesis in paragraphs. 

In term papers, a specific word limit that you must satisfy can be given.  You also have the liberty of choosing your topic if one has not been assigned to you. 

A term paper can be an assignment that contains the review of all that you have learned in a term. It enables students to carry out research and give detailed information on a topic. Instructors usually grade each term paper to make students handle it with seriousness.

What is a Research Paper? 

A research paper is known to be in-depth research on a specific topic. It is also written with a particular structure and style. Outlines of a research paper include abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussions, conclusion, and reference page. 

In writing a research paper, the students are provided with specified guidelines. This guide helps them to present their findings in line with the supervisor’s or instructor’s standard. 

A research paper can be longer than a term paper depending on the required word limit. The area of studies, such as MLA or APA, can determine the format of a research paper. Majorly, a research paper is a literature review presented formally. It may also be an extension of previous research already done by someone. 

Hints on Writing your Research Paper or Term Paper 

Both term paper and research paper can prove challenging to write. However, students can hire an expert writer to assist with the assignment. An expert writer can also offer you a sample that can guide you through the work. An expert writer can as well offer services like proofreading, formatting, and editing.

When choosing a topic for either your research paper or term paper, you should select a problem you have adequate knowledge about. It must be a topic of your interest to avoid making mistakes in your presentation. Also, to ensure a neat work, draft out your outlines and paragraphs before finalizing your project. 


The significant difference between a research paper and a term paper is the period at which they are assigned. Term papers are only given at the end of a semester term. Research papers, on the other hand, can be given at any time in the course.