When it comes to research papers, there are three primary types that you may be asked to write. In most cases, you will be assigned a specific type, but some professors will allow you to choose the type of research paper that will best fit your research and intended direction. You will not be able to effectively use these until you understand their purpose and when it is best to use them.
A report is simply a paper where you thoroughly research the topic. This tends to be quite broad and will require you to conduct extensive research. While this type of paper will analyze your writing ability, it will look more at your ability to effectively research, organize, and analyze different types of information. It will also look at how well you present research.
This is a paper that focuses on analysis and will look at a specific problem and not a set of problems, according to Purdue Online Writing Lab. You will look at the different solutions after you fully analyze the issue, and you will analyze it from both current and historical perspectives. The tone is generally neutral and you should not be advocating any position throughout the paper. It is important to be very clear and completely explore all angles and solutions.
Advocacy or Persuasion
With this type of paper you will take a stand and conduct the necessary research to defend it. The stand you take should be on a relatively small topic so that it is easier to research. You will deflect arguments against your stand and put up arguments that support your position. It is important to try and keep emotions out of it and support your position by using straight facts and objective analysis.