Difference between a Research Paper and a Review Paper

Difference between a Research Paper and a Review Paper

Christopher Smith

9 Jun 2021, 10:16 — 7 min read

While working on scholarly papers, we need to keep in mind that these papers are of different kinds. In some, you analyse other’s research and give a critical outlook to it while in others you have to bring out your unique hypothesis.

Thus one must learn to differentiate between such papers so as to accomplish the desired results. Such differences are also found between a research paper and a review paper.

A research paper comprises a topic that you choose. Then you refer to research done before on that topic, by different people, and also research yourself on that topic. The research includes facts, figures that can be collected by field works as well as by online research.

Basically, you are providing evidence for your study in these papers and then you conclude by summing up your arguments. Even if the structure of the research paper remains the same, minor changes can be made as per the requirements of the institution.

A review paper differs largely in its content as per the genre it's being reviewed on. For example, book reviews, magazines, film reviews, etc. In the case of a review paper, you refer to an already conducted research and then give your views on that research.

Reviewing means establishing the merits and success of the research and the extent of its relevance to the topic chosen. Films and book reviews may focus on the extent to which they have obeyed the norms of their genre and how well they were able to accomplish their purpose.

Review papers need extensive research to be conducted and views of other people to be analyzed while giving a review. You must be well acquainted with the field you are giving a review on else the credibility of the paper is challenged. 

Thus key differences between a review paper and a research paper are:


  • Purpose: A research paper is based on the author’s original findings and then his analysis of the research whereas a review paper’s purpose is to check the critical and analytical ability of the individual. The reviewer presents his views on a piece of already published literature.
  • Basis:  A research paper is a piece of primary literature based on one’s original research and analysis. On the contrary, a review paper is a piece of secondary literature that is based on the already published material and does not have any original findings.
  • The structure: A research paper writing comprises findings on a particular topic in the form of raw data collected from the original study, analysis, and interpretations based on that finding that is later compiled and ready to be read. In the case of a review paper, writers take up a particular topic, brief about it to the readers and then give a critical review on it based upon their understanding, while comparing it with pieces of literature.
  • Length: The length depends on the limit specified by the journal it is to be published in. The length may vary from 3000 to 6000 to sometimes even 12000. While in the case of a review paper, the length is comparatively shorter ranging from 3000 to 5000 words. It can be even shorter depending on the demand of the journal.
  • Reported Content: Every minor, as well as major detail, is put into a research paper. You write about the places you visited (basically the field work done by you), the people you interacted with, the methodologies you used to gather information and what conclusion you reached after studying everything in great detail. You also offer some alternative viewpoints to your study and the contribution made by your research in the field of literature. Since a review paper’s purpose is to critically analyze the existing literature, his study reports the method used by the person who worked upon the original piece, compares it with similar works and highlights the loopholes in his study thereby giving suggestions for improvement. A reviewer always views an article with a balanced perspective.
  • Suitability: A research paper is conducted by a person considering different time spans, as in analyzing the past, present, and future perspectives but in the case of a review paper, the relevance of the particular article and its adherence to present times are critically analyzed.
  • Results: In case of research paper writing information is extracted contributing something new to the field. In the case of a review paper, the writer presents the outcomes of the original work along with his suggestions on the topic.
  • Time Taken: A review paper takes less time than a research paper.
  • Types:  Research papers can be argumentative where the writer establishes his view on a point and tries to convince readers, and analytical where the writer presents his facts and figures and then brings out analysis based on that. A review paper can be narrative where the reviewer just analyzes previous research on that topic, systematic where the reviewer hunts for an answer to the question posed in the research, and meta-analysis where a comparative study of previous researchers is done.


Thus review and research paper writing are both inter-dependent. Through research content is provided for review and through review a possible criticism is provided to the research. There are some essay writing services that can also provide you some insights to add to your research paper.

Both are equally important and require the writer’s critical and analytical ability to be at play while working on it. Besides these are not essay papers that can be casually written. Rather they have set a pattern of writing as mentioned above.


Also read: Market research: The key to building a great startup


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