How to Write Analytical or Argumentative Research Papers

When writing your research paper, you can go for an analytical or argumentative approach. Your professor may tell you which to choose, but if the choice is yours then it is a good idea to know the difference between the two.

The purpose of your paper is what will help you choose your approach. How you present your topic will be determined by the approach you choose. If you want a piece that is a snapshot of the topic you are writing, then the analytical approach is for you.

If you want your paper to be balanced and for your paper to have a neutral feel about it, then analytical is the way to go. A balanced feel to the paper doesn’t mean you have to conclude by sitting on the fence. You can conclude for or against, on one side, the other side, or in the middle, but the way you present your topic on your paper should be neutral.

An argumentative research paper is one that is not balanced when you present it. Again, you can conclude with a middle-of-the-road point, but the way you present your topic may be very one sided. You may pursue a single argument and spend your entire time proving it is true if you wish.

Analytical = Neutral / snapshot of topic
Argumentative = not neutral / concentrating on some issues more than others

The argumentative research paper

With this paper, you are taking one side, pursuing one course, or answering one question to the exclusion of others. Start with your introduction that gives a little background on your topic. Insert your thesis near the end that states your question or your statement. This is the thing you will be proving, disproving or answering. It is possible to create a research paper without having a thesis statement, but that is very difficult when writing with an argumentative approach.

The body of your text should pursue your question and should show research that points towards proving, disproving or answering your thesis. You will have to show your research methodology. It cannot be a biased form of methodology, or you invalidate your answer. You may be seeking a single answer in the direction of your choosing, but you have to be fair in the way you go about it.

With your results, you can show how the arguments you are making are valid. The same is true when you analyze and evaluate your research results. Your discussion section is ideal for pushing through all your arguments and backing them with the evidence you have found.

When using an argumentative approach it is very important that you recall your thesis so that you may explain, prove, disprove, and/or answer it within the conclusion. Your conclusion is the place where you nail down your arguments and finally give the reader the unavoidable truth that what you are writing is correct. The discussion section may have convinced the reader a little, but the conclusion is where you run the goal home.

The analytical research paper

With an analytical research paper you may still have a thesis, it may be a question or a statement, and you may still address and conclude upon that thesis with an answer, for the statement, against it, or middle-of-the-road. The point is that during the writing process you should not favor one side over the other.

Your introduction should gently give the reader a little information on the topic you have chosen and why you have chosen it. Your methodologies are chosen because they are the best methods to get a neutral view of your research. They are not chosen because they are the most effective at proving a point.

Your results section should give raw data and processed data, but it should not be structured in a way that creates bias or opinion purposefully. It may create opinions or bias, but that shouldn’t be its aim. Its aim should be to create a snapshot of what is true.

Your discussion may use the results to come up with points and theories. You can remain neutral, but not if it means missing important points. You may draw pre-conclusions during the discussion period.

You may conclude in a neutral way if you wish, but if your research has led you to a conclusion that is one way or another, then you may still add it into your conclusion. An analytical approach doesn’t mean avoiding the obvious and apparent because you are trying to stay neutral.

If you are already biased and you are pushing for a certain result on your paper, then why not try taking an argumentative approach. If your professor will not allow you to take an argumentative approach, then you can help make your paper a little more neutral with a negative bias. If you know you are creating a piece that is biased in one direction, then spend some of your time trying to prove your bias answer is incorrect. Purposely try to undermine your personal bias in order to create something a little more neutral.