Written assignments in university can vary in length from a one-page essay question on an examination to a 20- or 30-page research paper. They can also vary in the level of analysis as well as in the amount and type of research required. You may be asked simply to describe a process or event, or to analyze or evaluate how and why that process or event occurs. Some assignments will require you to read and discuss a single work assigned to you, while others will require you to conduct some kind of library research to find out about your topic and to bring together in your paper information from a variety of sources. This is called secondary research, and requires you to learn to properly acknowledge your research sources when you write. (See more information: , , , , and ).
The term essay is used broadly for many different kinds of papers. Essentially, an essay is a written document which discusses, explains, analyzes, interprets or evaluates a topic in an organized and coherent manner. The terminology used to refer to an assignment and the requirements for length, level of analysis, and amount of research vary not only between disciplines but also between courses within a discipline. Following are some examples of terminology which may be used in various disciplines.
The 4 Types of Evidence ~ Writing Simplified
An assignment requiring a literature review or research review may be asking you to choose a specific topic and then to read journal articles written by experts about their own research. In this kind of paper you will be summarizing and comparing the results of research conducted on that topic. In some advanced courses you may also be required to do some critical evaluation of the kind and quality of research being done. The term 'literature,' as it is used in this assignment, refers to published research material rather than English literature or fiction. (See information on .)