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Difference between a Thesis and a Research Paper

Difference between a Thesis and a Research Paper

What is a thesis?

In Greek, the term ‘Thesis’ (tithenai) means ‘to place’.

Earlier, it meant discovering the topographical and locative origins to put forth of something in a pre-defined place.

To put forth a proposal is related to the theme of scholarly argument.

Dissertation: it is derived from the Latin word dissertātiō. It means ‘path’. Dissertation is also used as another name for a thesis.

Oxford Dictionary defines a dissertation as ‘a long essay on a particular subject or topic especially written for a university degree or diploma.’

It can vary in scope, length, and nature but the purpose and the aim are the same.

A thesis is, “a dissertation advancing an original point of view as a result of research, especially as a requirement for an academic degree”

(Webster’s II New College Dictionary, 1995).”

According to Beckson and Ganz, a thesis is “a proposition to be maintained, especially one laid down for formal defence or proof (Literary Terms: A Dictionary, 1993).”


Research Paper

It is a piece of original research.

Research means repetitive searches in different directions to prove the central problem of the paper. There can be a qualitative and quantitative research paper.

How are they different?

The thesis is a single scholarly argument that can initiate different lines of inquiry into infinite speculations and possibilities. The central line of inquiry in a thesis remains the same although there are various possibilities towards which the thesis can go.

A research paper has both speculative and variable constants to prove the central question.


Major Differences


1.     It focuses on the central problem or idea which for argument leading to future research

2.     It is written to obtain a degree

3.     Creation of thesis and anti-thesis or nullification of all anti-thesis.

4.     Original thinking is required to put a proposal.

5.     It can take many years to write a thesis

6.     You need a supervisor to guide you while writing a thesis


7.     It is written in the range of 200 to 300 pages.

Research Paper

1.     It is only about proving the central idea or argument

2.     It is written to provide something new in the area of research

3.     Collection of data to prove a central argument and exploring and nullifying them for future alternatives for a central argument.

4.     Resistance to justify central questions.

5.     It should not take as much time as a thesis to write a paper.

6.     You do not need a supervisor while writing a research paper.

7.     It is written between 6 to 15 pages.


Parija, ‎ Subhash Chandra  & Kate, Vikram. Thesis Writing for Master’s and Ph.D. Program. Springer Nature, 2018.

Meeran, J. Ahamed Research methodology for PG students. N.p., OrangeBooks Publication, 2023.

Sinha, M.P. Research Methods in English. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors (P) Limited, 2004.


Dr. Prabhat Jha

Assistant Professor

Department of English

Patna  Women’s College (Autonomous)

Patna University