Standards of English Research Paper: US vs. UK


US vs UK research papers

The English language has the highest number of national variants. American and British types are the most common among them. In this regard, UK and US standards for research papers have significant distinguishing features. Comprehend this fact while writing any projects at school or university.


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It seems like English is clear and unambiguous. This language is supposed one of the easiest in the world. Yet, its peculiarity is in a great number of variations.


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Common features for research paper standards of both countries include readability, logic, innovative approach, the relevance of the topic, and impressive content. Universities also use universal rules for documents according to ISBD (International Standard Bibliographic Description) and ISA (International Studies Association).

Here are the main differences between research papers in the USA and GB.

Language. You won’t hear an accent reading a paper; still, you can observe visual differences concerning the following aspects.

  • Spelling. Make sure you distinguish British ‘grey’ ‘colour’ from American ‘gray’ ‘color.’
  • Vocabulary. In Great Britain, you go on ‘holiday’ in ‘autumn’ and in the USA, you take a ‘vacation’ in the ‘fall.’
  • Punctuation.  Don’t forget that Oxford is famous for its comma before ‘and.’

Format standards. Margins, a volume of paper, headings and titles, text formatting, rules of citing, requirements for visual objects differ among American and British educational systems. The most common standards in the USA are APA, Chicago, MLA, LSA. Oxford and Harvard Referencing Styles are used in the UK.

Most common disciplines involved in research. American students choose social science, law, and business fields for research projects more often.  Engineering, science, mathematics are more popular among the British. Their modern research projects are usually devoted to Chemical Engineering and Medical Chemistry.

Priority approach to research. Nowadays, the depth concept is more appreciated in the UK educational system. British colleges are good at highly specialized subjects. The US universities provide greater flexibility and freedom to students, as well as pay more attention to the breadth of the research.

Types collaborations. As a rule, the British use single institution patterns in research projects.  European students prefer to work within one university. In turn, the Americans choose outside region collaborations. They are not afraid to go beyond the borders of their college, and a state as a whole.  

Academic adviser’s role. In both countries, students write their research papers under the guidance of their professors. However, American advisers are more involved in this process in comparison with their European colleagues. They provide significant support and crucial help: numerous consultations, analyses of intermediate results. The main task of British teachers in the universities is a control function.

Recommended certificate for foreign students. If you want to write an academic essay or research paper being a foreign student, you need to prove your level of English. Notwithstanding international coverage of the most popular certificates, you’d better pass IELTS for British education and TOEFL for the American one.

Research papers infographic

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