Good morning everyone!
Jon here, and today I woke up this morning thinking about the differences between term papers and research papers. You know, these terms are always used as if they mean the same thing, but guess what, they are not! That isn't to say that there are no similarities, and of course sometimes they overlap, but there are some big differences.
Difference One: You have to do heavy-duty research for a research paper.
You can write a term paper about the life of Adam Smith (the economist, for all of you literature majors out there), and that's fine, but an actual research paper will really go in-depth not only about his life but also his ideas, innovations, and possibly even the effects his ideas continue to have on us today. So while you will have to do some work to write a term paper about Adam Smith, you will really have to get down to it to write a reseach paper about him.
Difference Two: Research Papers usually have a thesis, whereas term papers don't generally have them.
By thesis, I mean a statement which you are going to prove, something you propose which you then support in your writing. For example, in a research paper about Adam Smith, you might propose that his ideas are out-dated and should not be used in economics today. You will have a tough row to hoe on that one, but that's all right! The more interesting, the better, as far as research papers are concerned. All you need to do is make sure you do the leg-work of collecting good sources so you can support your thesis.
Difference Three: Depth, Depth, and more Depth
See what I'm saying? Term papers are what they are; research papers are DEEP. You have to dig deep, in the library as well as your own head, to write a research paper, while term papers, again, are less intensive.
Kate will be back soon with more!