Research Paper Vs. Personal Reflection Paper: A Comparison


Writing a paper might seem like the commonest of tasks. What’s difficult to understand is the subtle difference that lies between the different kinds. Research papers often cease to remain so and express our personal opinions, turning to a personal reflection paper. Students are assigned both which is why it becomes crucial for them to make a difference in order to score well and proceed academically.


  • Opinion or Facts
  • Both research and personal reflection papers aim to prove a point. However, the approach of a research paper is different – it claims that all its inferences are based on facts. This is what makes citing references so important when writing a research paper. A research paper is also about opinions but it mostly includes those which are favour of the writer’s personal opinion. Here, similar opinions are put together along with one’s own. This is also what makes this kind of paper longer in length.


    A personal reflection paper on the other hand is one which is based on a particular person’s point of view – that of the writer. Though citations are important but they aren’t the base of it. Needless to say, research papers involve a lot of research work whereas a personal reflection paper is more about personal opinion which does not essentially require in depth knowledge about a topic.


  • Critical Analysis – Required for Both
  • Since both the papers involve expressing your opinion about an issue, they call for critical analysis. The writer has to think deeply and understand why certain experts have spoken of a topic in a particular way and then compare it with what others have said. In case of a personal reflection paper, the writer himself or herself must be able to think about the issue deeply in order to be able to formulate a solid opinion.


  • Different Types of Each
  • While research papers can be argumentative, cause and effect, compare and contrast, subject based or analytical. Personal reflection papers are narrative, philosophical or academic. Personal reflection papers are commonly assigned in colleges where students are also expected to write a literature review – expressing their opinions about a particular piece which they had read when studying about this topic.


    The backbone of any research paper is the very research work and its mentions – a personal reflection paper is based more on personal opinion and one’s understanding and feel of an issue.