The Differences between an Analytical and an Argumentative Paper

When you are considering how to write a research paper, one of the things to ask yourself is what you are trying to achieve with it, which will govern whether you use the analytical or the argumentative style.

The purpose of the analytical approach is to define, explain, and interpret information such as an event, book, poem, play, work of art, or even a person. You will use this approach to answer a particular question objectively. It requires that you approach the subject with no pre-conceived conclusions.

When writing a paper using the argumentative approach, also sometimes known as the persuasive approach, you make a statement proposing only one side of an argument. It is an attempt to convince your reader of the validity of your opinion as opposed to others, through evaluation and persuasion.

The Analytical Paper

If you are taking the analytical approach to write a research paper, you will need to assemble data from reliable sources, which you cite by paraphrasing. You must have a genuine knowledge of the subject if you select the analytical approach as it is meant to make use of your research to provide an objective picture of the data that is available on the subject. This enables you to present a conclusion based on all available information, not just your opinion. Once you have achieved familiarity with the topic, you will be able to restructure and relocate the concepts that underlie the basic topic in your paper. When writing your analytical paper, remember to use the present tense, avoid the first person, as well as the use of contractions.

The Argumentative Paper

When constructing an argumentative paper, you aim to create a thesis that presents your opinion of why the reader should only consider one particular side of an argument. To do this, you must investigate your topic thoroughly and evaluate the evidence you discover in your research to be able to establish a position on the topic. You must then support your position by providing credible and trustworthy sources from previously published materials. In persuading your readers to your point of view, you may need to produce empirical research results by collecting data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments.

Your resulting paper will demonstrate your ability to counter any arguments to the contrary to your stated chosen position using reliable data and sound reasoning. Be sure to use good transitional words and phrases when moving between arguments to demonstrate your logical progression of thought.

Tips on Formatting

As mentioned earlier, you will need to cite references to demonstrate a strong analysis or argument for your paper. When you refer to works by other authors, it is essential that you cite them accurately so your reader can validate the references. The citation style will vary based upon the writing format given to you by your professor, whether APA, MLA, or another.

To ensure that you do not lose points for formatting errors, you can use formatting software for accuracy. By using the proper software, you can save time during the editing process, and this will allow you to focus your attention on what matters most, the content.


For more information about APA or MLA formats, contact us today.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

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