essay, paper, dissertation

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Is there difference between essay, paper, and dissertation? Or are they all the same, but just different names?
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    "Essay" and "paper" are general terms for written compositions that are typically required in high school and college. "Paper" can also refer to a research paper published in an academic journal.

    "Dissertation" is reserved for a longer paper that contributes something original to a field of study. Dissertations are often required for an advanced degree.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I don't disagree with what Owlman says, but I would add: Essay is also used for an article in a newspaper or magazine (or online) expressing a personal point of view. Paper can also refer to a policy statement, such as one issued by a government official or a political candidate.

    Dissertation, in my experience, is used only as Owlman says.
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