Posted: January 21st, 2021
An analytical research paper is a text that uses research to augment the paper writer’s own critical interpretation of a text, concept, or theory. An analytical research paper attempts to forward a certain idea about the object it is studying through careful examination of detailed components of the object of study. It does this through the writer’s own insight and ideas, but uses published research to bolster that insight. Analytical research papers differ from analytical essays in one primary way: analytical essays typically do not require the writer to draw on external research.
An analytical research paper is written to present the writer’s own interpretation of the text, concept, or theory the paper is examining. This requires the writer to first establish what this interpretation is, and then to develop that interpretation into a clear thesis statement. For instance, a student may be writing an analytical research paper on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. First, the student would need to decide what he or she was going to write about by taking a stance on some aspect of the text. For instance, the student may decide he or she thinks that Prince Hamlet is truly mad throughout the duration of the entire play. This is the student’s thesis statement. The student would then proceed to defend that thesis by using his or her own interpretive skills by pointing to areas in the text that suggest Hamlet may be insane and also by pointing to multiple pieces of valid scholarly literature that also support the idea that Hamlet is mad. These sources do not necessarily have to have the same thesis as the student’s—they do not even have to be on exactly the same topic. Sometimes, scholarly texts will only address the student’s thesis idea in one paragraph. Other times, a student may point to research that disagrees with the student’s thesis, and point to ways in which that research’s interpretation is faulty. Regardless, analytical research papers should include quotes and paraphrases from several different scholarly texts in such a way as to assist the student’s thesis development.
The process of incorporating these sources into the document requires the student to select only the best quotations and points from each source. Analytical research papers should not rely on the research to make the paper’s main points; rather, the writer should use the research to bolster his or her own points that he or she has determined from independent analysis of the object of study.
An analytic research paper should conclude by pointing to the main points the writer suggested in the essay and indicating what those points imply about the topic in general. This is the place for the writer’s insight on the particular object of study to be fully explained and revealed.
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