The difference between a research paper and a review paper


While researching for your assignments or labs, you will come across different types of articles including research papers and review papers. Both of these are scholarly sources but it’s important to understand each of these types and also how they contrast from one another. Many people fail to distinguish between the two. How can we tell whether we are looking at a research paper or a review paper? Are they both same or different? This post will help you clarify your doubts and delusion regarding the same.

Here are 4 differences between a Research paper and a Review paper:

  • A research paper is termed as the primary source. It is based on original research. Raw data in the form of experiment, survey and interview are collected and analyzed by the authors, and conclusions are drawn based on the results of that analysis.

Whereas, a review paper is referred as the secondary source. It is based on existing published articles and does not report original research.

  • A research paper serves the purpose of reporting a detailed original study so that other researchers can repeat the experiment. It represents the authors’ distinctive investigation on a specific research question.

On the other hand, a review paper serves the purpose of synthesizing and analyzing research, already conducted on primary sources. It generally summarize the current state of the research done and provides us with an overview.

  • A research paper reports each step of the study in detail. This typically includes abstract, the hypothesis, background study, methodology, results and discussion. It also includes the possible outcome of the results, of how the research contributes to the study for further research.

On the contrary, review paper distinguishes & reports similarities between the results of the chosen topic. If there are disagreements then the authors try to provide reasons for conflicting results.

  • The length of the research paper depends on the word count stated by the journal and usually ranges between 3000 to 6000 words. Though for some journals the word limit might reach to 12000, based on requirement.

The word limit for a review paper usually ranges between 3000 to 5000 words. While in few cases, a longer or relatively short review paper may also be published in respect of the requirement of journal.

I hope the above facts help you clear your doubts and conception between a Research paper and Review paper. I would eagerly want to know what you feel about the Research v Review debate and how would you differentiate between the two? Write to us.

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