The difference between a research paper and an essay is a research paper tends to be longer then an essay. An essay is generally from three to five paragraphs long where as a research paper is several pages long. A research paper requires you to do some research by gathering information and getting other people to prove your initial idea whether right or wrong. An essay usually is focused on a specific question and is written to answer the question. Minimum research is required since your idea comes from your own thoughts and experiences. Basically an essay is based off the individual who is writing the essay. There are several types of essays and can be written as a narrative, descriptive, elaborative, to include many others. Usually you select the tone of an essay according to what the topic is about and how you plan on presenting the essay. A research paper also requires you to answer a question but these questions are real matter of concern and require you to do some research. Yes your own idea and personal thoughts are included but you also have other authors and writer’s ideas to back up, improve, or will influence your own idea about the topic you are writing on. Just like an essay a research paper also contains an introduction, main body and a conclusion. However on a research paper the main body is an interpretation; an argument of your point of view verse other authors personal opinion. Bottom line is a research papers requires a little more time to complete and needs more understanding and research on what you are writing about.