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Thesis v/s Dissertation v/s Research Paper

A Comparative Study Between Dissertation, Thesis, and Research Paper

29 Jul 2022

7 minutes


Overview of Research Paper, Thesis, and Dissertation

When getting your hands on bulky and informative projects like research paper, thesis, and dissertation, you need to be prepared for burning the midnight oil for several days as these projects require a long period of time.

We often see that dissertation is treated same as thesis and used interchangeably at some institutions. Besides writing lots of words, referring numerous books, and spending hours on a computer behind these research projects, everything lies to be different.

Let’s say no more and delve into these terms.

What Is a Research Paper?

An academic writing material that is mainly presented by students in schools/colleges as a requirement in a scholastic session.

What Is a Thesis?

It’s a part of your journey after graduation to attain a professional degree by showcasing your critical and rational ability.

What Is a Dissertation?

A doctoral presentation, presented by PhD scholars as their own findings, which is the by-product of their research.

Take a Look On: “How I Wrote My Dissertation?” A Ph.D. Scholar’s Guide You Shouldn’t Miss

Now when you have a clue about these terms, let’s get further in this study.

Primary Differences Between Research Paper, Thesis, and Dissertation

While discussing and writing research paper, thesis help and dissertation, one often gets confused with their usage and guidelines. But you won’t, as the reader of this blog, you now have a clear understanding of all these terms.

Now let’s see the difference between thesis v/s dissertation v/s research paper on the basis of:


  • Let’s start with the basic qualification which is school, where you are generally asked to prepare the research paper. As the term ‘school’ has been used smartly used here, research paper is generally required during the school times.
  • If we talk about a thesis, it is  usually undertaken when you’re about to wrap up your Master’s program.
  • Whereas, the dissertation is presented at the time of undergoing PhD.

Nature of Study

  • While writing the research paper, you can own the research topic of your choice and put your ideas in it. Since this is your original write-up, you got the liberty of working it out on your own. As stated above, that it is coursework into academic writing, it should only contain formal communication.
  • In the case of writing a thesis, as discussed earlier, your critical ability takes up the point. It involves in-depth study as you need to act like a critique and give analysis upon the topic. So while choosing the topic, you should have a clear idea of your next step as it will help you to choose your professional career.
  • Writing a dissertation requires a study that is previously done to comment upon. As a result, your research should generate some new theories, ideas or new concepts that can prove your point of doing this research in the first place. Your study should discuss the loopholes, problems of previous study, and how your research has overcome these issues. It should be open-ended research, leaving a point of discussion for the upcoming researchers.

This Might Interest You: A Detailed Roadmap for Topic Selection for Dissertation Writing

Differences Based on Composition

After discussing the differences between thesis, dissertation, and research paper based on their scope of the study, let’s discuss what they consist of and their format in terms of:

Length (May Vary According to Country)

  • The approximate length of a research paper is about 50-60 pages. It usually takes a few days to complete writing the research paper.
  • This limit goes up to 100-130 pages at the time of writing a thesis. It might take a few weeks to a month for writing a thesis.
  • As said by Purdue University, compiling a PhD dissertation is a lengthy work to do and it may vary from 300 to 330 pages.

Center Point

  • The major difference between dissertation, thesis and research paper lies while choosing the center point. The research paper is built around a single research goal and consists of a center point.
  • Your study may result in more than one goal during writing thesis because you got more than one argument to comment upon.
  • Whereas, while writing a dissertation, the specific area is covered in the study on which the research hasn't been made yet. Creating a hypothesis, then applying your original research on it and forming the conclusion based on that hypothesis is what a scholar should perform.

All you need to know: Introduction To Conclusion: Write Your Dissertation With Perfection

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