The major difference between the two research paper types is made in the process of writing, or presenting the topic. Analytical papers create a balanced, neutral approach to presenting a snapshot of an overall topic from which you draw conclusions, and argumentative papers create a debate between differing sides with a logical argument that favors one side of an argument over another.
Forming a research question is the basis of an analytical research paper. The question is neutral and provides direction for you to evaluate and explore the topic as it relates to answering the question. Your thesis statement presents the research question, and the remainder of your paper supports your thesis.
To address the other side of the argument you plan to make, you'll need to "put yourself in their shoes." In other words, you need to try to understand where they're coming from. If you're having trouble accomplishing this task, try following these steps:
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When choosing similarities and differences, mention those that are the most important, the most descriptive, or the most informative. For example, when comparing-contrasting cars, focus on those elements that truly differentiate them based on their purpose. If a car's purpose is to move people and things from one place to another safely, car color is not that important. However, the difference in the power of the engines would be. Elaborate in such a way that similarities and differences are clear and distinct.
A cause-effect essay first presents a reason or motive for a particular event, situation or trend and then explains the results or consequences of that situation. The study of science and history most often use the cause-effect structure.
A compare-contrast essay focuses on the similarities and differences between and among situations, processes, objects, or ideas. The purpose is to develop and explain the relationship between two or more items in order to better understand both.
When selecting causes and effects, choose those that are the most important, the most descriptive, or the most informative. For example, all ships on the North Atlantic the evening the Titanic sank had to contend with the same weather, ice, and light conditions. Not all ships ran into an iceberg and sank. So, while the weather conditions contributed to the sinking of the Titanic, they were not a primary cause. Similarly, when looking at the effects of an event or situation, we focus on the long-term effects, not the immediate effects. Although 1500 people died the night the Titanic sank, we want to focus on the actions taken after the sinking that contributed the safety of life at sea.
A problem-solution essay addresses a complex philosophical dilemma with no clear right answer, develops criteria for addressing the problem, and informs readers about possible actions that might be taken to remedy the situation. No matter what sort of complex problem is encountered, the chances of solving it improve if it is approached analytically, conscious of the steps one can take and escape routes available if the steps become too rigid.
Students in middle and high school need help structuring their analytical thinking and writing as they are often expected to write about, explain, and analyze fact-based concepts — concepts they can't make up. Analytical writing in all content areas falls into the following six categories. In a longer non-fiction work, such as a book, the author will mix things up, using text structures within text structures:
After describing the problem, the essay should outline a realistic solution. Begin by choosing one possibility. Assess any difficulties involved. Perhaps there are rules and regulations that need to be followed. Perhaps the solution will be prohibitively expensive. Where will the money come from? Discuss the solution in detail. Move onto other possibilities, if required, only after the first solution has been explained in full.
A concept-definition essay provides a personal (but still factually accurate understanding of a particular concept or term. The essay conveys what research, understanding, and experience have taught the writer about the concept or term. What a concept "is not" is often part of the definition.