Analytical vs. Argumentative Research Papers
When writing a research paper, you have the choice of two main approaches: analytical and argumentative. Sometimes your research assignment may specify which approach you should use, but sometimes the decision on how to approach your topic rests on your shoulders. The scope and purpose of your paper determines which approach is more suited to your topic.
While there are distinct differences between writing an analytical research paper and writing an argumentative research paper, there are some common principles as well:
- Logical thinking is necessary.
- Smart evaluation of information fuels what is included.
- Comprehensive research of source material is conducted.
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.
The analytical research paper
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.
This type of research paper is not a simple regurgitation of information. Instead, it is your thoughts, conclusions and evaluations of a topic that is backed up with logical information. Several things are vital in formulating an analytical research paper:
- You answer the research questions objectively.
- You have no preconceived notions or opinions about the topic.
- You evaluate the topic and draw conclusions from factual information from reliable sources.
- You piece findings together to present the purpose of the paper.
- You use serious contemplation and a critical evaluation to answer the research question.
The argumentative research paper
Taking one side of an issue or topic is the central point of an argumentative research paper. Your stance is built into the thesis statement, which makes the argument you feel is more logical for the given topic. The biggest goal of this type of paper is to convince your readers to agree with your point of view by backing up your position with a logical argument supported by facts and information from credible sources.
An argumentative research paper does not simply demand readers agree with you based solely on your opinion. Instead, careful and structured research is used to demonstrate the viability of your argument by providing information that allows readers to draw the same logical conclusion. There are several things that are crucial in writing this type of paper:
- You use logical persuasion to build your argument in order to convince readers.
- You clearly state your argument or stance in the thesis statement.
- You introduce the topic sufficiently before taking a stance.
- You use credible sources to back up your position and include information about the opposing view.
- You use critical evaluation to create a logical argument.
Regardless of which research paper type you are undertaking, the backbone of writing a great paper starts with conducting thorough and structured research, using effective note-taking strategies and forming a strong thesis statement. While the thesis statement you start with may evolve as you write your paper, an analytical research paper has a more fluid thesis than an argumentative one; the thesis statement may undergo more changes as you begin outlining, writing a rough draft or finalizing your paper.
As you work through the organization process of writing a research paper, stay aware of which approach your topic requires to stay focused on the right aspects of the topic. If you are writing with an analytical approach, use an objective and logical presentation of facts to answer your research question. If you are writing with an argumentative approach, use logical thinking and an accurate representation of both sides of an issue while persuading your audience to reach the same conclusions you do.
The Differences between an Analytical and an Argumentative Paper
When you are considering how to write a research paper, one of the things to ask yourself is what you are trying to achieve with it, which will govern whether you use the analytical or the argumentative style.
The purpose of the analytical approach is to define, explain and interpret information such as an event, book, poem, play, work of art, or even a person. You will us this approach to give an answer to a particular question objectively. It requires that you approach the subject with no pre-conceived conclusions.
When writing a paper using the argumentative approach, also sometimes known as the persuasive approach, you make a statement proposing only one side of an argument. It is an attempt to convince your reader of the validity of your opinion as opposed to others, through evaluation and persuasion.
The Analytical Paper
If you are taking the analytical approach to writing a research paper you will need to assemble data from reliable sources, which you cite by paraphrasing. You must have a very real knowledge of the subject if you select the analytical approach as it is meant to make use of your research in order to provide an objective picture of the data that is available on the subject. This enables you to present a conclusion based on all available information, not just your opinion. Once you have achieved familiarity with the topic, you will be able to restructure and relocate the concepts that underlie the basic topic in your paper. When writing your analytical paper, remember to use the present tense, avoid the first person, as well as the use of contractions.
The Argumentative Paper
When constructing an argumentative paper, your aim is to create a thesis that presents your opinion of why the reader should only consider one particular side of an argument. To do this, you must investigate your topic thoroughly and evaluate the evidence you discover in your research in order to be able to establish a position on the topic. You must then support your position by providing credible and trustworthy sources from previously published materials. In persuading your readers to your point of view, you may need to produce empirical research results by collecting data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments.
Your resulting paper will demonstrate your ability to counter any arguments to the contrary of your stated chosen position using trustworthy data and sound reasoning. Be sure to use good transitional words and phrases when moving between arguments to demonstrate your logical progression of thought.
Tips on Formatting
As mentioned earlier, you will need to cite references in order to demonstrate a strong analysis or argument for your paper. When you refer to works by other authors, it is important that you cite them accurately so your reader can validate the references. The citation style will vary based upon the writing format given to you by your professor, whether APA, MLA, or another.
To ensure that you do not lose points for formatting errors, you can use formatting software for accuracy. By using the proper software, you can save time during the editing process and this will allow you to focus your attention on what matters most, the content.
David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
info @ referencepointsoftware.com
Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).