The Difference Between An Expository Essay And A Research Paper: Tips For Dummies

With so many different styles. So many different requirements. The world of academia can at times seem like an Alice in Wonderland, befuddling world to the uninitiated. While some of my colleagues who have been doing this in their sleep since they were babies raise their eyebrows, I totally understand that for some the differences between these academic works can seem very confusing. So, I have put together these tips for dummies to help you make sense of it all.

First of all here are my brief definitions of what both are:

The expository style is

In its rawest form this kind of work is an opportunity to investigate an idea and then analyse it. This could be anything from 1-3 pages in length.

The research style is

This is a substantial piece of work, way longer than an essay. You then set about the process of analysing and several sources in response to the original question posed in your thesis.

  • They are handed down from middle school upover

  • You will be introduced to the principle of thse types of papers in high school, but in reality won’t be expected to complete anything of any significance until you are in college or university.

Here are some other differences for you to mull over:

  • One of the main benefits of producing analytical styled work is that it provides students with an opportunity to practise their writing skills while also having to analyse a set topic.
  • Whereas by the time a student gets to the point where they are tasked with preparing a research paper, it will be presumed that their writing skills will already be up to a very high standard. So, the purpose is for them to develop the concept of articulating an idea, justifying, and then backing it up through the careful analysis of multiple sources.

    Both can present significant challenges, however essay writing is generally perceived as a warm up exercise to the biggies:


  • Research Paper Writing

  • Dissertations

  • Theses

One of the other key differences is:

The levels of justification that you will have to. For example, in an expository style piece you are just taking someone else’s idea and analysing the merits of it. Whereas by contrast in a more academic piece you are taking YOUR idea and then having to justify it through multiple sources.

Want an A+ for your college essay?
We can help!