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Differences Finder

What is the Difference Between Thesis and Report

Thesis and Report are two commonly confused terms, each with its own unique features, purposes, and formats. While both are written in an academic setting, there are several distinct differences between the two that should …

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difference between thesis and report writing

Thesis and Report are two commonly confused terms, each with its own unique features, purposes, and formats. While both are written in an academic setting, there are several distinct differences between the two that should be taken into consideration.

A thesis is typically a long, research-based essay that is written as part of a student’s degree program. It is an in-depth exploration of a specific topic and involves the student’s own research and analysis. The primary purpose of a thesis is to demonstrate that the student has a comprehensive understanding of the topic, and is capable of applying the knowledge they have acquired during their degree program to a specific problem or issue. A thesis is usually written in the form of a book, which includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and conclusion.

On the other hand, a report is a shorter document that is typically written in response to a specific problem or issue. It may be based on research, but its primary purpose is to provide an accurate description of a current situation or past event. Reports are generally written in a more concise and descriptive format, as opposed to the more analytical style of a thesis. Reports also usually include recommendations for further action based on the findings.

In conclusion, while both a thesis and a report are written in an academic setting, there are several differences between the two that should be taken into consideration. A thesis is an in-depth exploration of a specific topic and is typically written in the form of a book, while a report is a shorter document that is usually written in response to a specific problem or issue. Additionally, the primary purpose of a thesis is to demonstrate that the student has a comprehensive understanding of the topic, while a report is primarily designed to provide an accurate description of a current situation or past event.

Thesis vs Report: An Overview

Thesis and report writing are two distinct processes that are used in academic writing to convey different types of information. To understand the differences between the two, we must first define them. A thesis is an extensive paper that is written as a requirement for a degree or diploma at a university or college. It is typically a long-term project that involves a considerable amount of research and analysis. A report, on the other hand, is a shorter written work, usually composed of facts and figures, that is used to present information in a concise manner.

Thesis vs Report: Content and Structure

The content and structure of a thesis and a report are very different. A thesis is typically an in-depth exploration of a specific topic, and it may include a series of chapters that discuss related concepts, theories, and research. The structure of the thesis typically follows the standard academic format, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction of a thesis typically explains the topic that will be explored and provides an overview of the structure of the document. The body paragraphs of the thesis will then discuss the research, theories, and evidence that relate to the topic. Finally, the conclusion will summarize the research and offer a conclusion or opinion on the topic.

A report, on the other hand, is typically shorter than a thesis and is generally used to present specific information in a concise manner. Reports often contain a title page, an executive summary, a table of contents, and sections that present the data and discuss the implications of the findings. Reports are typically used to present data related to a particular field or topic, such as a market analysis or a financial statement. Reports may also include charts and graphs to help illustrate the data.

Thesis vs Report: Purpose and Style

The purpose and style of a thesis and a report also differ significantly. The purpose of a thesis is typically to explore a particular topic in depth, and the document should be written in an academic style with formal language. The thesis should also include citations to sources that are used to support the arguments that are presented.

The purpose of a report, on the other hand, is typically to present facts and figures in a concise manner. Reports are typically written in a more formal style than a thesis and should include citations to sources when necessary. Reports may also include visuals such as charts and graphs to help illustrate the data. Additionally, reports should be written in a clear and concise manner to ensure that the information is easily understood by the reader.

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Master's Report vs. Thesis Project: What’s the Difference?

Alana Krafsur

January 10, 2020

CoMC Office of Graduate Studies

In the College of Media & Communication Graduate Program , master's students must complete a final research project in the form of a master's report or thesis project . Find out which of the two options is the best fit for your aspirations.

Master's Report

The master's report, MCOM 6050 , is the final course which all master's students on the professional track or sports media track must complete before attaining their degree. Completing an applied research project provides portfolio material and proves that students are masters of their crafts. Similar to an independent study, this course is completed with the help of a professor who serves as an adviser and helps oversee the research project. A “6050 project” takes one semester to complete.

There are three different forms of 6050 projects:

  • A project completed for an organization as an employee, intern or volunteer.
  • A project completed for an organization not as an employee, intern or volunteer.
  • A project in an area of student interest.

Required elements:

  • Secure an idea.
  • Choose a CoMC faculty adviser.
  • Complete an approved project proposal.
  • Collect original data.
  • Write a report.
  • Present work in an oral presentation.

Previous master's report projects have included:

  • Politics, Social Media & the 2020 Democratic Primary – Logan McDonald
  • An Analysis of Best Practices in Industry Application of Neuromarketing Research – Linh Nguyen
  • Reestablishing Trust in News Media – David Olshansky
  • Crisis Management in International Non-Profit Governmental Organizations – Simranjit Singh

Student Testimonials

Casey Montalvo, Sports Media Focus:

"My 6050 project focuses on comparing male and female sports fans based on how the media frames them, specifically Texas Tech fans. As a woman who wants to work in the sports communications industry after I graduate, this topic intrigued me. I am a communications intern for Texas Tech Athletics, and since my research is tailored to TTU specifically, I can give them my results."

Alana Krafsur, Professional Track:

"With a passion for the women's rights industry, I am focusing my 6050 project on a large-scale event I coordinated, “Female Genital Mutilation: A Survivor's Story.” My research seeks to find ways to market human rights issues to increase emotional engagement and generate action. What I like most about the CoMC graduate program is there are many directions you can take for a 6050 project. You can tailor your interests to align with your professional aspirations."

Thesis Project

Master's students on the thesis track must complete original research that increases our understanding of media and communication phenomena and theory. Completing a thesis prepares master's students for in-depth studies in theory and research, and provides the foundation for the pursuit of a Ph.D. degree . A thesis project takes at least two semesters to complete.

  • Choose an adviser and faculty committee.
  • Complete an approved thesis proposal.

Previous thesis projects have included:

  • Why do People Use Memes to Talk About Politics? Application of Uses & Gratifications Theory to Political Memes – Bingbing Zhang
  • Transporting, Identifying and Expanding: Superheroes in Series Television – Jeanette Moya
  • Creativity and Healing: How Creative Media Help Us Cope with Mental Illness – Bethany Pitchford

Bethany Pitchford, Thesis Track:

"While I started out on the 6050 track, I realized early on that I was probably going to want to pursue a Ph.D., so I switched to the thesis track. The overarching question of my thesis relates to how creativity helps people cope with, and communicate about, their mental illness to others. Ultimately, I enjoyed writing a thesis because it provided me the space to explore questions I was, and still am, highly curious about."

Camden Smith, Thesis Track:

"I believe a thesis is absolutely preparing me to go into academia and enroll in a doctoral program. I think if I was more eager to get back to the industry, I would be on the 6050 track; however, this track is really helping keep my eyes on the prize – which is a doctoral dissertation."

To learn more about the graduate program, email [email protected]

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Thesis and Purpose Statements

Use the guidelines below to learn the differences between thesis and purpose statements.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

As you revise your paper, try to phrase your thesis or purpose statement in a precise way so that it matches the content and organization of your paper.

Thesis statements

A thesis statement is a sentence that makes an assertion about a topic and predicts how the topic will be developed. It does not simply announce a topic: it says something about the topic.

Good: X has made a significant impact on the teenage population due to its . . . Bad: In this paper, I will discuss X.

A thesis statement makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of the paper. It summarizes the conclusions that the writer has reached about the topic.

A thesis statement is generally located near the end of the introduction. Sometimes in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or an entire paragraph.

A thesis statement is focused and specific enough to be proven within the boundaries of the paper. Key words (nouns and verbs) should be specific, accurate, and indicative of the range of research, thrust of the argument or analysis, and the organization of supporting information.

Purpose statements

A purpose statement announces the purpose, scope, and direction of the paper. It tells the reader what to expect in a paper and what the specific focus will be.

Common beginnings include:

“This paper examines . . .,” “The aim of this paper is to . . .,” and “The purpose of this essay is to . . .”

A purpose statement makes a promise to the reader about the development of the argument but does not preview the particular conclusions that the writer has drawn.

A purpose statement usually appears toward the end of the introduction. The purpose statement may be expressed in several sentences or even an entire paragraph.

A purpose statement is specific enough to satisfy the requirements of the assignment. Purpose statements are common in research papers in some academic disciplines, while in other disciplines they are considered too blunt or direct. If you are unsure about using a purpose statement, ask your instructor.

This paper will examine the ecological destruction of the Sahel preceding the drought and the causes of this disintegration of the land. The focus will be on the economic, political, and social relationships which brought about the environmental problems in the Sahel.

Sample purpose and thesis statements

The following example combines a purpose statement and a thesis statement (bold).

The goal of this paper is to examine the effects of Chile’s agrarian reform on the lives of rural peasants. The nature of the topic dictates the use of both a chronological and a comparative analysis of peasant lives at various points during the reform period. . . The Chilean reform example provides evidence that land distribution is an essential component of both the improvement of peasant conditions and the development of a democratic society. More extensive and enduring reforms would likely have allowed Chile the opportunity to further expand these horizons.

For more tips about writing thesis statements, take a look at our new handout on Developing a Thesis Statement.

difference between thesis and report writing

Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Developing a Thesis Statement

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper



Developing Strategic Transitions


Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

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Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, August 15). How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/thesis-statement/

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.


Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Research Method

Home » Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and Types

Table of Contents

Research Report

Research Report


Research Report is a written document that presents the results of a research project or study, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions, in a clear and objective manner.

The purpose of a research report is to communicate the findings of the research to the intended audience, which could be other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public.

Components of Research Report

Components of Research Report are as follows:


The introduction sets the stage for the research report and provides a brief overview of the research question or problem being investigated. It should include a clear statement of the purpose of the study and its significance or relevance to the field of research. It may also provide background information or a literature review to help contextualize the research.

Literature Review

The literature review provides a critical analysis and synthesis of the existing research and scholarship relevant to the research question or problem. It should identify the gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the literature and show how the current study addresses these issues. The literature review also establishes the theoretical framework or conceptual model that guides the research.


The methodology section describes the research design, methods, and procedures used to collect and analyze data. It should include information on the sample or participants, data collection instruments, data collection procedures, and data analysis techniques. The methodology should be clear and detailed enough to allow other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the study in a clear and objective manner. It should provide a detailed description of the data and statistics used to answer the research question or test the hypothesis. Tables, graphs, and figures may be included to help visualize the data and illustrate the key findings.

The discussion section interprets the results of the study and explains their significance or relevance to the research question or problem. It should also compare the current findings with those of previous studies and identify the implications for future research or practice. The discussion should be based on the results presented in the previous section and should avoid speculation or unfounded conclusions.

The conclusion summarizes the key findings of the study and restates the main argument or thesis presented in the introduction. It should also provide a brief overview of the contributions of the study to the field of research and the implications for practice or policy.

The references section lists all the sources cited in the research report, following a specific citation style, such as APA or MLA.

The appendices section includes any additional material, such as data tables, figures, or instruments used in the study, that could not be included in the main text due to space limitations.

Types of Research Report

Types of Research Report are as follows:

Thesis is a type of research report. A thesis is a long-form research document that presents the findings and conclusions of an original research study conducted by a student as part of a graduate or postgraduate program. It is typically written by a student pursuing a higher degree, such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree, although it can also be written by researchers or scholars in other fields.

Research Paper

Research paper is a type of research report. A research paper is a document that presents the results of a research study or investigation. Research papers can be written in a variety of fields, including science, social science, humanities, and business. They typically follow a standard format that includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion sections.

Technical Report

A technical report is a detailed report that provides information about a specific technical or scientific problem or project. Technical reports are often used in engineering, science, and other technical fields to document research and development work.

Progress Report

A progress report provides an update on the progress of a research project or program over a specific period of time. Progress reports are typically used to communicate the status of a project to stakeholders, funders, or project managers.

Feasibility Report

A feasibility report assesses the feasibility of a proposed project or plan, providing an analysis of the potential risks, benefits, and costs associated with the project. Feasibility reports are often used in business, engineering, and other fields to determine the viability of a project before it is undertaken.

Field Report

A field report documents observations and findings from fieldwork, which is research conducted in the natural environment or setting. Field reports are often used in anthropology, ecology, and other social and natural sciences.

Experimental Report

An experimental report documents the results of a scientific experiment, including the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions. Experimental reports are often used in biology, chemistry, and other sciences to communicate the results of laboratory experiments.

Case Study Report

A case study report provides an in-depth analysis of a specific case or situation, often used in psychology, social work, and other fields to document and understand complex cases or phenomena.

Literature Review Report

A literature review report synthesizes and summarizes existing research on a specific topic, providing an overview of the current state of knowledge on the subject. Literature review reports are often used in social sciences, education, and other fields to identify gaps in the literature and guide future research.

Research Report Example

Following is a Research Report Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance among High School Students

This study aims to investigate the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students. The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The findings indicate that there is a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students. The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers, as they highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities.


Social media has become an integral part of the lives of high school students. With the widespread use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, students can connect with friends, share photos and videos, and engage in discussions on a range of topics. While social media offers many benefits, concerns have been raised about its impact on academic performance. Many studies have found a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance among high school students (Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010; Paul, Baker, & Cochran, 2012).

Given the growing importance of social media in the lives of high school students, it is important to investigate its impact on academic performance. This study aims to address this gap by examining the relationship between social media use and academic performance among high school students.


The study utilized a quantitative research design, which involved a survey questionnaire administered to a sample of 200 high school students. The questionnaire was developed based on previous studies and was designed to measure the frequency and duration of social media use, as well as academic performance.

The participants were selected using a convenience sampling technique, and the survey questionnaire was distributed in the classroom during regular school hours. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlation analysis.

The findings indicate that the majority of high school students use social media platforms on a daily basis, with Facebook being the most popular platform. The results also show a negative correlation between social media use and academic performance, suggesting that excessive social media use can lead to poor academic performance among high school students.


The results of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. The negative correlation between social media use and academic performance suggests that strategies should be put in place to help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. For example, educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students.


In conclusion, this study provides evidence of the negative impact of social media on academic performance among high school students. The findings highlight the need for strategies that can help students balance their social media use and academic responsibilities. Further research is needed to explore the specific mechanisms by which social media use affects academic performance and to develop effective strategies for addressing this issue.


One limitation of this study is the use of convenience sampling, which limits the generalizability of the findings to other populations. Future studies should use random sampling techniques to increase the representativeness of the sample. Another limitation is the use of self-reported measures, which may be subject to social desirability bias. Future studies could use objective measures of social media use and academic performance, such as tracking software and school records.


The findings of this study have important implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. Educators could incorporate social media into their teaching strategies to engage students and enhance learning. For example, teachers could use social media platforms to share relevant educational resources and facilitate online discussions. Parents could limit their children’s social media use and encourage them to prioritize their academic responsibilities. They could also engage in open communication with their children to understand their social media use and its impact on their academic performance. Policymakers could develop guidelines and policies to regulate social media use among high school students. For example, schools could implement social media policies that restrict access during class time and encourage responsible use.


  • Kirschner, P. A., & Karpinski, A. C. (2010). Facebook® and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237-1245.
  • Paul, J. A., Baker, H. M., & Cochran, J. D. (2012). Effect of online social networking on student academic performance. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology, 8(1), 1-19.
  • Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657.
  • Rosen, L. D., Carrier, L. M., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Facebook and texting made me do it: Media-induced task-switching while studying. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 948-958.

Note*: Above mention, Example is just a sample for the students’ guide. Do not directly copy and paste as your College or University assignment. Kindly do some research and Write your own.

Applications of Research Report

Research reports have many applications, including:

  • Communicating research findings: The primary application of a research report is to communicate the results of a study to other researchers, stakeholders, or the general public. The report serves as a way to share new knowledge, insights, and discoveries with others in the field.
  • Informing policy and practice : Research reports can inform policy and practice by providing evidence-based recommendations for decision-makers. For example, a research report on the effectiveness of a new drug could inform regulatory agencies in their decision-making process.
  • Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research in a particular area. Other researchers may use the findings and methodology of a report to develop new research questions or to build on existing research.
  • Evaluating programs and interventions : Research reports can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and interventions in achieving their intended outcomes. For example, a research report on a new educational program could provide evidence of its impact on student performance.
  • Demonstrating impact : Research reports can be used to demonstrate the impact of research funding or to evaluate the success of research projects. By presenting the findings and outcomes of a study, research reports can show the value of research to funders and stakeholders.
  • Enhancing professional development : Research reports can be used to enhance professional development by providing a source of information and learning for researchers and practitioners in a particular field. For example, a research report on a new teaching methodology could provide insights and ideas for educators to incorporate into their own practice.

How to write Research Report

Here are some steps you can follow to write a research report:

  • Identify the research question: The first step in writing a research report is to identify your research question. This will help you focus your research and organize your findings.
  • Conduct research : Once you have identified your research question, you will need to conduct research to gather relevant data and information. This can involve conducting experiments, reviewing literature, or analyzing data.
  • Organize your findings: Once you have gathered all of your data, you will need to organize your findings in a way that is clear and understandable. This can involve creating tables, graphs, or charts to illustrate your results.
  • Write the report: Once you have organized your findings, you can begin writing the report. Start with an introduction that provides background information and explains the purpose of your research. Next, provide a detailed description of your research methods and findings. Finally, summarize your results and draw conclusions based on your findings.
  • Proofread and edit: After you have written your report, be sure to proofread and edit it carefully. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and make sure that your report is well-organized and easy to read.
  • Include a reference list: Be sure to include a list of references that you used in your research. This will give credit to your sources and allow readers to further explore the topic if they choose.
  • Format your report: Finally, format your report according to the guidelines provided by your instructor or organization. This may include formatting requirements for headings, margins, fonts, and spacing.

Purpose of Research Report

The purpose of a research report is to communicate the results of a research study to a specific audience, such as peers in the same field, stakeholders, or the general public. The report provides a detailed description of the research methods, findings, and conclusions.

Some common purposes of a research report include:

  • Sharing knowledge: A research report allows researchers to share their findings and knowledge with others in their field. This helps to advance the field and improve the understanding of a particular topic.
  • Identifying trends: A research report can identify trends and patterns in data, which can help guide future research and inform decision-making.
  • Addressing problems: A research report can provide insights into problems or issues and suggest solutions or recommendations for addressing them.
  • Evaluating programs or interventions : A research report can evaluate the effectiveness of programs or interventions, which can inform decision-making about whether to continue, modify, or discontinue them.
  • Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies.

When to Write Research Report

A research report should be written after completing the research study. This includes collecting data, analyzing the results, and drawing conclusions based on the findings. Once the research is complete, the report should be written in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.

In academic settings, research reports are often required as part of coursework or as part of a thesis or dissertation. In this case, the report should be written according to the guidelines provided by the instructor or institution.

In other settings, such as in industry or government, research reports may be required to inform decision-making or to comply with regulatory requirements. In these cases, the report should be written as soon as possible after the research is completed in order to inform decision-making in a timely manner.

Overall, the timing of when to write a research report depends on the purpose of the research, the expectations of the audience, and any regulatory requirements that need to be met. However, it is important to complete the report in a timely manner while the information is still fresh in the researcher’s mind.

Characteristics of Research Report

There are several characteristics of a research report that distinguish it from other types of writing. These characteristics include:

  • Objective: A research report should be written in an objective and unbiased manner. It should present the facts and findings of the research study without any personal opinions or biases.
  • Systematic: A research report should be written in a systematic manner. It should follow a clear and logical structure, and the information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand and follow.
  • Detailed: A research report should be detailed and comprehensive. It should provide a thorough description of the research methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Accurate : A research report should be accurate and based on sound research methods. The findings and conclusions should be supported by data and evidence.
  • Organized: A research report should be well-organized. It should include headings and subheadings to help the reader navigate the report and understand the main points.
  • Clear and concise: A research report should be written in clear and concise language. The information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand, and unnecessary jargon should be avoided.
  • Citations and references: A research report should include citations and references to support the findings and conclusions. This helps to give credit to other researchers and to provide readers with the opportunity to further explore the topic.

Advantages of Research Report

Research reports have several advantages, including:

  • Communicating research findings: Research reports allow researchers to communicate their findings to a wider audience, including other researchers, stakeholders, and the general public. This helps to disseminate knowledge and advance the understanding of a particular topic.
  • Providing evidence for decision-making : Research reports can provide evidence to inform decision-making, such as in the case of policy-making, program planning, or product development. The findings and conclusions can help guide decisions and improve outcomes.
  • Supporting further research: Research reports can provide a foundation for further research on a particular topic. Other researchers can build on the findings and conclusions of the report, which can lead to further discoveries and advancements in the field.
  • Demonstrating expertise: Research reports can demonstrate the expertise of the researchers and their ability to conduct rigorous and high-quality research. This can be important for securing funding, promotions, and other professional opportunities.
  • Meeting regulatory requirements: In some fields, research reports are required to meet regulatory requirements, such as in the case of drug trials or environmental impact studies. Producing a high-quality research report can help ensure compliance with these requirements.

Limitations of Research Report

Despite their advantages, research reports also have some limitations, including:

  • Time-consuming: Conducting research and writing a report can be a time-consuming process, particularly for large-scale studies. This can limit the frequency and speed of producing research reports.
  • Expensive: Conducting research and producing a report can be expensive, particularly for studies that require specialized equipment, personnel, or data. This can limit the scope and feasibility of some research studies.
  • Limited generalizability: Research studies often focus on a specific population or context, which can limit the generalizability of the findings to other populations or contexts.
  • Potential bias : Researchers may have biases or conflicts of interest that can influence the findings and conclusions of the research study. Additionally, participants may also have biases or may not be representative of the larger population, which can limit the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Accessibility: Research reports may be written in technical or academic language, which can limit their accessibility to a wider audience. Additionally, some research may be behind paywalls or require specialized access, which can limit the ability of others to read and use the findings.

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Reports and essays: key differences

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Know what to expect

Explore the main differences between reports and essays and how to write for your assignments

You'll complete assignments with different requirements throughout your degree, so it's important to understand what you need to do for each of them. Here we explore the key differences between reports and essays. 

This page describes general features of academic reports and essays. Depending on your subject you may use all of these features, a selection of them, or you may have additional requirements. 

There is no single right way to write a report or essay, but they are different assignments. At a glance: 

  • Reports depend heavily on your subject and the type of report.
  • Essays usually have specific content and a planned structure with a focus on sense and flow. You subject might need different types of information in your introduction –  some disciplines include a short background and context here, while others begin their discussion, discuss their resources or briefly signpost the topic.

Differences between reports and essays

This table compares reports and essays and provides an outline of the standard structure for each. Your assignment will also depend on your discipline, the purpose of your work, and your audience – so you should check what you need to do in your course and module handbooks, instructions from your lecturer, and your subject conventions.

Table adapted from Cottrell, 2003, p. 209.

The structure of reports

Most reports use an IMRaD structure: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion.

Below are some common sections that also appear in reports. Some sections include alternative headings.

1. Table of contents

Your contents shows the number of each report section, its title, page number and any sub-sections. Sub-section numbers and details start under the section title, not the margin or the number.

2. Abstract or Executive summary

This brief summary of the report is usually the last thing you write.

3. Introduction

Your introduction describes the purpose of the report, explains why it necessary or useful, and sets out its precise aims and objectives.

4. Literature review

This describes current research and thinking about the problem or research question, and is often incorporated into the introduction.

5. Methods or Methodology

This describes and justifies the methods or processes used to collect your data.

6. Results or Findings

This section presents the results (or processed data) from the research and may consist of mainly tables, charts and or diagrams.

7. Discussion, or Analysis, or Interpretation

This section analyses the results and evaluates the research carried out.

8. Conclusion

The conclusion summarises the report and usually revisits the aims and objectives.

9. Recommendations

In this section the writer uses the results and conclusions from the report to make practical suggestions about a problem or issue. This may not be required.

10. Appendices

You can include raw data or materials that your report refers to in the appendix, if you need to. The data is often presented as charts, diagrams and tables. Each item should be numbered : for example, write Table 1 and its title; Table 2 and its title, and so on as needed.

Structure of essays


Your essay introduction contextualises and gives background information about the topic or questions being discussed, and sets out what the essay is going to cover.

Your essay body is divided into paragraphs. These paragraphs help make a continuous, flowing text.

The conclusion summarises the main points made in the essay. Avoid introducing new information in your conclusion.

Bibliography or Reference list

This is a list of the resources you've used in your essay. This is usually presented alphabetically by authors’ surname.

Reference for the Table of Distinctions above: 

Cottrell, S. (2003).  The Study Skills Handbook  (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Download our report and essay differences revision sheet

Download this page as a PDF for your report and essay revision notes.

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essay about formalist approach

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The Great Gatsby pp 9–17 Cite as

The Formalist Approach

  • Stephen Matterson  

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Part of the The Critics Debate book series (TCD)

Formalism may be defined as a critical approach in which the text under discussion is considered primarily as a structure of words. That is, the main focus is on the arrangement of language, rather than on the implications of the words, or on the biographical and historical relevance of the work in question. A strictly formalist critic would, for example, approach The Great Gatsby as a structure of words, ignoring the details of Fitzgerald’s life and the social and historical contexts of the novel. However, formalism, or the concept of strict literary formalism, has often been attacked by individual literary critics or schools of criticism on the grounds that it reduces the text to nothing more than a series of words, thereby limiting its meaning and power. It is true that the Russian Formalists in the early years of the century attempted to examine the text in this way, but Western formalist approaches have tended to be much less theoretical. In practice, such critics have been very responsible to the meaning and themes of the work in question, rather than adopting a linguistic approach. For example, from the 1930s onwards, a movement in Britain and America, loosely called the ‘New Criticism’ began to dominate critical activity and teaching methods.

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© 1990 Stephen John Matterson

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Matterson, S. (1990). The Formalist Approach. In: The Great Gatsby. The Critics Debate. Palgrave, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-20768-8_2

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  • Research Papers
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  • Literature ›

A Formalist Approach to “The Story of an Hour”

The following sample literature essay is 1087 words long, in apa format, and written at the undergraduate level. it has been downloaded 23141 times and is available for you to use, free of charge., send via email.

Kate Chopin’s short story “ The Story of an Hour ” is filled with little surprises. She sets the reader in one direction with a specific image, and then startles you with a change of direction. Our initial look at the protagonist of the story is one of a delicate woman, easily harmed. “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (Chopin 1894). The writer cleverly does two things in this opening line that will be used later in the story to surprise the reader. The first is creating an image of a delicate woman. The second is making us aware she has a heart condition. We are drawn in immediately by the news that she is about to be informed she is a widow. The use of surprise and plot intrigue is clearly evident in this short story, lending it to be easily observed from a formalist approach. Our textbook states: “This approach is most widely used in literary comparison and criticism; it focuses on the form and development of the literary work itself” (Clugston, 2010). Chapter 16.2 of our text asks why is the plot intriguing? Did surprise occur? The surprise twists in this short story are what make it stand out, and what makes the piece memorable. The first sentence of the story will come back to haunt the reader in a short while, with a surprise ending to the story. This story suits the formalist approach as it is filled with surprise twists.

After hearing of her husband’s death, the woman reacts strongly: “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself, she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow” (Chopin 1894). With these lines the image of an exceptionally grief-stricken widow comes to mind. The reader sees the utter collapse of this woman, wildly thrashing in grief, and then removing herself to grieve alone. She goes upstairs and sits by a window, staring at the spring scene budding below her. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life” (Chopin 1894).  To the reader, this image of budding spring contrasts deeply with the image of a weeping widow, facing an empty life and dealing with death instead of the spring of life. Chopin writes about the spring scene, a metaphor for life, with its blue sky and bird song.

As we are led into this image of life and contrasting death, Chopin begins leading us to our first surprise. She uses a foreshadowing technique to keep us interested: “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air” (Chopin 1894). The reader feels a foreboding, still the feeling of death lingers, and we expect bad news. The first surprise is striking. We are awaiting disaster, yet the young widow, with her unlined face streaming tears feels released “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free!” (Chopin 1894). The reader is left aghast. 

Chopin describes an ordinary love between husband and wife. The widow will “weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome” (Chopin 1894).

As a reader, I was shocked at this turn of events, yet accepted this statement that she loved him, yet felt released. As Chopin continues to write descriptively about the widow’s reaction to her husband’s death, this sympathy waned somewhat. The widow is really truly elated at the prospect of widowhood. To add a bit of historical perspective here, one could look at the author’s own history of widowhood and independence, and occasional “scandalous” writing. One of her novels, “The Awakening” was criticized because it dealt with a woman’s strength despite her adulterous life, and Chopin often wrote about her personal quest for freedom (Clugston, 2010). The content and message of “The Awakening” caused a stir in local society, and Chopin was denied admission into the St. Louis Fine Art Club after its publication. In the remaining short five years of her life she wrote only a few short stories (Wyatt 1995).

The ending of the story contains the final surprise. After the reader is completely aware of the widow’s elation at her sudden freedom, even despite having loved her husband, he walks in the front door very much alive. The widow drops dead at the sight of him. “When the doctors came, they said she had died of heart disease – of joy that kills” (Chopin 1894). This is the final irony and twist in this short interesting story. Esther Lombardi in her article, “How to Become a Critical Reader” states: “Consider the title. What does it tell you about what the book, essay, or literary work is about?” (Lombardi).  “The Story of an Hour” is filled with twists and plot intrigue, describing the reality of what one-hour can hold in the course of life’s surprise ups and downs. Kate Chopin does a wonderful job of manipulating the story to mirror the unexpected events that can occur at any time in our lives.

Chopin, K. (n.d.). "The Story of an Hour". Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved September 18, 2013, from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/

Clugston, W. (2010). Responding to Literary Experience, Literary Criticism: A Brief Overview. Journey into Literature (pp. Ch 2, Ch 16). San Diego CA: Bridgepoint Education Inc.

Lombardi, E. (n.d.). How to Become a Critical Reader . Books & Literature Classics. Retrieved from http://classiclit.about.com/od/forstudents/ht/aa_criticalread.htm

Wyatt, N. (n.d.). Biography of Kate Chopin. Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/katebio.html


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Writing a Formalist Literary Analysis

Using formalism, a critic can show how the various parts of a work are welded together to make an organic whole. This approach examines a text as a self-contained object; it does not, therefore, concern itself with biographical information about the author, historical events outside of the story, or literary allusions, mythological patterns, or psychoanalytical traits of the characters (except those aspects described specifically in the text.)

A formalist critic examines the form of the work as a whole, the form of each individual part of the text (the individual scenes and chapters), the characters, the settings, the tone, the point of view, the diction, and all other elements of the text   which join to make it a single text. After analyzing each part, the critic then describes how they work together to make give meaning (theme) to the text.

Point of View Setting Characters Plot Symbols Theme

A thorough analysis of the text is important to write a good paper here. Remember the judgment you make about a literary work will reflect your own values, biases, and experience; however, you MUST respect the author ' s words and intentions as presented in the text. Do not analyze a work in terms of what you would like to see; analyze it in terms of what you actually observe. Remember to clearly separate your assumptions from the author ' s assumptions.

·     Before you begin to write, re-read your notes, considering which approach seems most appropriate. Write your answers to the following questions in FULL sentences.

o    Did a particular aspect (literary element) of the novel make an impact on me?

o    What relationships between the various parts of the novel (and literary elements) do I see?

o    What lesson (meaning or theme) did the author want me to learn from reading this novel?

·     Write a thesis which clearly and directly states the point you want to make about the novel. Consider this example of a thesis statement:

Example 1 :

Setting in "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty is effective: the descriptions are beautiful.

·     Next underline key words:

Setting in "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty is effective : the descriptions are beautiful .

·     Answer these questions about the example:

1. Does this thesis limit and focus what the writer has to say about the story?

Definitely not! This thesis (and I use the term loosely) is very vague. The key terms are so general that they fail to provide any focus for the paper. To provide specific examples to support this statement will be very difficult.

2. Can this thesis help to explicate the novel ' s theme?

Again, this statement has no real connection to what the author is saying (the meaning) in the story.

Eudora Welty uses the setting of "A Worn Path," presented in the vivid descriptive phrases of the protagonist ' s strenuous journey through the wild country of Natchez Trace, to connect the reader with Phoenix , both as a character and as a symbol .

1. Does this thesis limit and focus what the writer has to say about this story?

Yes! This paper will be give examples from the text which show how the description of the setting (during this character ' s journey) characterize the protagonist as a person and a symbol. In addition, repetition of the underlined key words will help this writer build coherence in the paper.

2. Can this thesis help to explicate the novel ' s meaning (theme)?

No, at least not directly. While connecting the setting along the journey to the main character will definitely get at the author ' s theme, the theme is not made clear. In fact, though both the character and the symbolism, almost assures this paper will discuss theme, the actual reference to the story ' s theme is missing. However, this thesis would address the assignment response for looking at form (structure) and how the story is built.

Example 3 :

Through Phoenix ' s strenuous journey in the wild country of Natchez Trace, Eudora Welty uses her protagonist to symbolically show the struggle of African-Americans toward equality and integration in the South after the Civil War.

Yes! This paper will give examples from the text showing how the character ' s journey symbolizes the African-Americans struggle for equality and integration. Repetition of the underlined key words will help this writer build coherence in the paper.

Yes! It connects the setting with the symbolic journey to get at the author ' s theme. In fact, looking at the journey, the character and the symbolism almost assures this paper will discuss theme. This thesis would address the assignment response for looking at meaning (theme).

Once you have arrived at the thesis, make a brief outline of the examples (including quotes and paraphrases--and page numbers for each) which will support the thesis you have written.

After preparing an optional outline, complete with examples, begin writing the paper.  Always avoid allowing the quotes and paraphrases from the text to take over the paper. You are the critic, and this paper is YOUR formalist interpretation of the novel. Quote only the words necessary to make your point; avoid long passage of diaglor , etc. Also use the specific quotes and paraphrases as support for YOUR ideas and always interpret them for the reader, by showing how the quoted material connects to the point you are making.  Do not expect a reader to interpret a scene or event from the text in the same way that you have.  Always make the connections for the reader.

What is the point of view? 

Point of view is the viewpoint from which you view the setting, see the action, observe the characters, and hear the conversations. Depending on the powers the author has granted this narrator, you may even be able to see inside a character ' s mind, learning what he or she thinks and feels. (. . .ever wish we all had these powers. . .?)

  • In first person point of view, "I" and "we" are used. Sometimes the first person narrator is a participant in the story of the novel; sometimes, he/she is an observer. The reliability of first person narrators should be evaluated on the basis of their involvement in the story).
  • In third person point of view, "he," "she," and "they" are used.  Third person narrators may be omniscient (all-knowing), offering editorial comments on or an objective report of the characters and situations. Third person narrators may also be limited omniscient, functioning as a sort of central intelligence, though limited by the fact that they are also a character in the story; hence, they usually cannot see into minds, know the future, etc. A note of caution-- It is important to avoid confusing the narrator with the author in reading fiction.

              Ask yourself the following questions in analyzing point of view:

  • How does the author ' s choice of point of view affect the reader ' s understanding and feelings about the story?
  • Does the point of view in the novel have a particular use?
  • What advantages does the author gain by using this viewpoint?
  • What changes in the novel would have to be made if the point of view were changed?
  • Does the author ' s choice of point of view reveal or illuminate his/her theme?

What is the setting?

Setting is more than just the place and time a story takes place.  Setting also includes the atmosphere:  the social and cultural context of the story. A novel may have many settings or occur at different times; however, each time and place were selected by the author for a particular reason. As yourself the following questions:

  • Does the setting play an important role in revealing any element of the novel?
  • What information does the setting give me about a situation or a character?
  • What influence does the setting have on the characters or their actions?
  • Does the setting contribute to the novel ' s theme?

Who are the characters?

Characters are the lifeblood of every novel, and some characters are more important than others. Characters may be round (more like real life with positive and negative traits) or flat (usually stereotypes that symbolize a certain type of person/place/thing). Characters may also be dynamic (changing and growing as the novel ' s events unfold) or static (those who remain unchanged no matter what happens to them).

         In addition, note the following important character types as you read through the novel:

  • the protagonist - the main character around whom the novel ' s action revolves (usually). Don ' t be trapped into thinking this character must be human because he/she/it may not   be .
  • the antagonist - the important character with whom the protagonist is locked in conflict. The antagonist may be a person or some other animate life form (or a collection of said life forms), a place, or a thing.
  • the foil - a minor character (usually) who is offered as a contrast to point out or emphasize a distinctive characteristic of the protagonist.

Ask yourself the following questions about the important characters of the novel?  

4.         Are the character physically described? How detailed are these descriptions, and who gives them to you? ( a narrator? or another character? reliability?)

5.         How do the character ' s words and actions characterize him/her/it?

6.         What is the character ' s motivation for the decisions and actions he/she/it makes?

7.         Are the character ' s actions believable, given the setting and situations in the novel?

8.         How do the characters, their actions and motivations, contribute to the novel ' s theme?

What are symbols?

Symbols extend beyond one-to-one comparison. Be cautious when looking for symbols. A symbol is a like signpost, used and oftentimes repeated at key junctures, that alludes to a larger meaning than the signpost normally would indicate. Symbols can be public or private.

Public symbols have traditional meanings. The rose which is a well-known symbol of love, and the apple is a religious symbol for forbidden knowledge as in the Adam and Eve story. 

Private symbols can mean anything the author wishes them to mean, and this meaning is only apparent from the way in which they are used in the novel. Sometimes authorial and traditional symbols merge having both the traditional meaning, and one that is more closely related to the novel.

Symbols most often reveal characters to us and/or strongly allude to the theme of a novel. Readers of a novel may not always agree on a particular symbol ' s interpretation or even if a particular item is a symbol, so be careful to offer plenty of supporting evidence and reasoning to back up both your selection and interpretation of any symbol. 

What is Theme?

Theme is the point of the book, the author ' s message to us: the readers. Theme is often complex, and thus, it may be difficult for two people out of ten to interpret the same theme.  Though certain readers may see similar themes, most likely the themes they interpret will be different in some way or another to varying degrees.

Hence, theme is a matter of individual interpretation. However, the interpreter must not be too cavalier in assuming he/she can choose any theme whatsoever.  The theme must logically come from the text; therefore, the theme must be supportable by using specific text examples.  Care should be given to interpreting these specific text examples in the context that they are used in the novel.  Care should also be given to avoid "stretching" or "reaching" too far to make a text example fit into our interpretation of the theme.  In addition, the wise reader/interpreter will avoid associating the author or the author ' s life too closely with the main character or his/her life.

Questions to ask to get to the theme: 1. What lesson does the author want me (the reader) to learn from this book? 2. What lesson does the author want me (the reader) to learn about life?

* Important note -   Be doubly sure to state the theme in an arguable statement.  See the following examples:

  In Way of the Peaceful Warrior , Dan Millman writes about living in the present.  (This statement is not a theme; it announces the topic but does not make an arguable statement about it.)

 In Way of the Peaceful Warrior , Dan Millman concludes that living in the present is the key to unreasonable happiness. (This statement gives us the topic "living in the present" and makes a point about it "is the key unreasonable happiness")

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In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Stylistics

Introduction, classics and history.

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Stylistics by Lesley Jeffries LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017 DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0048

Stylistics is the study of textual meaning. Historically, it arose from the late-19th- and early-20th-century Russian formalist approach to literary meaning, which endeavored to identify the textual triggers of certain literary effects from their structures. As a result, for much of its history, stylistics has been concerned with the style, and consequent meaning, of literary works. However, the burgeoning of modern linguistics in the early part of the 20th century and the simultaneous rise of mass media (newspapers, radio, and television in the first instance) led stylisticians toward two new concerns. First, they wanted to establish whether there was anything unique about the language of literature that differentiated it absolutely from other language use. For this project, new insights from descriptive linguistics were crucial as an objective and rigorous way of describing—and comparing—texts in terms of their style. The eventual consensus that developed from such work was that there is no absolute division, in linguistic usage, between literary and nonliterary texts, though genres of all kinds (including nonliterary genres) may have stylistic preferences that help to identify them. Second, stylisticians wanted to find out how style affected such important issues as political and social change, through the texts encountered by citizens in their daily lives. The result was the adaptation and application of stylistic analysis to nonliterary texts for the purpose of highlighting ideology—particularly hidden ideology—rather than for the purpose of explaining aesthetic effects. This development ultimately gave rise to what is now called “critical discourse analysis,” though this term now encompasses many studies that are minimally linguistic in their concerns. The initial enthusiasm for the insights that linguistics could bring to literary study, together with some of the principal notions from Russian formalism, such as “defamiliarization,” produced stylistics’ early theoretical core notions, such as foregrounding, external and internal deviation, and parallelism. These continue to be central to much stylistic scholarship, and for this reason it has not been possible to group texts relating to foregrounding and deviation together here, as they also range widely across the other categories necessary to map out the field. It is also worth noting that the increasing use of computational methodologies borrowed from corpus linguistics means that today it is possible to examine not only foregrounded, but also background features of style. Meanwhile, stylistics has continued to follow the “new” subdisciplines of the field (sociolinguistics, pragmatics, psycholinguistics, etc.), as well as developing connections with other disciplines, notably psychology, to develop a range of more subtle tools of analysis to understand how the texts that are its central concern make meaning.

It is generally true that each item in this list could have been categorized differently, but an attempt has been made to identify the publications that have most clearly made an impact on thinking about style that continues to the present day. These debates include the dissatisfaction of literary scholars with the lack of clarity of literary criticism where it has no shared framework of analysis or descriptive language, as seen in Ehrlich 1965 , an introduction to stylistics first published in 1955; the question of whether advances in rigor and systematicity tend to produce analysis that is lacking in understanding of textual/literary meaning, in particular the many critical reviews that followed Sebeok 1960 ; the two parallel threads of a developing stylistics, arising from literary criticism on the one hand (as in Epstein 1978 ), and from linguistics, on the other (as in Sebeok 1960 and Fowler 1971 ). Other entries here, such as Fowler 1971 ; Fowler 1986 , merge the two approaches more completely, and, in the case of Leech and Short 2007 (first published 1981), have been judged by peers to have made the largest contribution to the discipline in the last twenty-five years, as determined by the Poetics and Linguistics Association.

Crystal, David, and Derek Davy. Investigating English Style . London: Longman, 1966.

An early, and at the time unique, application of linguistics to the study of stylistic differences between nonliterary texts. Crystal and Davy’s aim was a practical and systematic method for identifying textual style, based on regularity of occurrence of certain linguistic features in texts, linked to (situational and other) external features.

Ehrlich, Victor. Russian Formalism: History, Doctrine . 2d ed. The Hague: Mouton, 1965.

A critical but balanced study of the formalist origins of stylistics, this book traces the impetus for a new discipline with objectivity and rigor resulting from the impatience of literary scholars with “impressionistic criticism” and introduces the Russian formalists through the work of its most distinguished pioneer, Roman Jakobson. First published 1955.

Enkvist, Nils Erik. Linguistic Stylistics . The Hague: Mouton, 1973.

DOI: 10.1515/9783111348926

Enkvist showcases the methods and techniques of stylistics that drew most strongly on new insights from linguistics. His emphasis was on systematicity and transparency.

Epstein, E. L. Language and Style . London: Methuen, 1978.

This book attempts to use linguistic description to address the question of whether there is a qualitative difference between personal (i.e., unique) style and public patterning of language. This ambition appears implicitly linked to the quest for a definition of literary and particularly individual author style as separate from “everyday” language, but it has been superseded by a more holistic view of style as being on a continuum between genre and individual author.

Fowler, Roger. The Languages of Literature . London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971.

A collection of papers republished from elsewhere that attempt to make the case for a linguistic approach to literature, though often reviewed negatively in failing to adequately illustrate with examples of analysis, beyond those dealing with meter. The collection reprints both sides of Fowler’s argument with F. W. Bateson about the value of linguistic criticism.

Fowler, Roger. Linguistic Criticism . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

This is one of the ground-breaking books of early stylistics which introduces the precision and systematicity of linguistic approaches to literary meaning. It explains in a clear style how the analytical insights of linguistics can illuminate the reader’s understanding of literary works and it illustrates from poems, plays and fiction. Whilst now relatively old, this remains a very good introduction to the field for readers new to stylistics. First published 1971.

Freeman, D. C. Essays in Modern Stylistics . London: Methuen, 1981.

This collection of articles demonstrates a range of applications of linguistics to the style and interpretation of literature. It includes studies of individual authors, such as the poets John Keats and William Blake, as well as essays that consider the place of stylistics alongside literary studies and linguistics.

Leech, Geoffrey, and Mick Short. Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose . 2d ed. London: Pearson Education, 2007.

Like many stylistics books, this one is partly aimed at students, though it also breaks new theoretical ground, particularly in relation to speech presentation and demonstrates the accuracy with which linguistically trained scholars can describe features of literary works. The second edition has new material. First published 1981.

Lemon, L. T., and M. J. Reis, eds. Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays . 2d ed. University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

This reissued book collects together four of the most influential essays by Russian formalist scholars from the early 20th century—work that laid down the foundations of what we would today call “stylistics.” The essays include two by Viktor Shklovsky, one that introduces defamiliarization, and one that puts forward a theory of narrative through analysis of Tristram Shandy . The others are Boris Tomashevsky’s “Thematics” (1925), which looks at the components of stories, and Boris Eichenbaum’s “The Theory of the ‘Formal Method’” (1927), which defends formalism from various criticisms.

Sebeok, Thomas Albert, ed. Style in Language . Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1960.

The papers and some of the discussion from a gathering at Indiana University in 1958. Participants came from a range of disciplines, including psychology and anthropology, as well as linguistics and literary studies, and the volume includes contributions from two of the discipline’s most renowned scholars, Roman Jakobson and I. A. Richards.

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Literary Research: Formalism

What is formalism.

"Formalism refers to the critical tendency that emerged during the first half of the twentieth century and devoted its attention to concentrating on literature's formal structures in an objective manner... There are three critical movements that represent a formalist approach to literature. The first movement is Russian Formalism , from the 1910s to the 1930s (which, when suppressed by the Soviets in the 1930s, was continued by members of the Prague Linguistic Circle). The second is the New Criticism , which emphasized close reading, dominant in British and American education. The third movement is Structuralism , a dominant trend in mid-century France."

Brief Overviews:

  • " Formalism ." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas.
  • " Form and Formalism ." Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature.
  • " Russian Formalism ." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism .
  • " New Criticism ." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism .
  • ' Structuralism ."  The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism .

See also: Structuralism and Semiotics

Notable Scholars

Russian Formalism:

Boris Eichenbaum

  • In original Russian .

Roman Jakobson

  • Selected Writings (8 volumes).

Jakobson, Roman. Language in Literature . Belknap Press, 1987.

Victor Shklovsky

Shklovskiĭ, Viktor. On the Theory of Prose . Translated by Shushan Avagyan, Dalkey Archive Press, 2021.

In original Russian: O teorii prozy ( print ) and eBook .

The Prague School / Prague Linguistic Circle:

René Wellek

  • Wellek, René. The Literary Theory and Aesthetics of the Prague School . University of Michigan, 1969.

New Criticism:

Cleanth Brooks

  • Searle, Leroy. " Cleanth Brooks ."  Oxford Bibliography  in Literary and Critical Theory, 2021. doi: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0112
  • Brooks, Cleanth. The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry . Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1956.
  • Brooks, Cleanth. Modern Poetry and the Tradition . University of North Carolina Press, 1967.

Kenneth Burke

  • Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action . Louisiana State University Press, 1941.

Northrop Frye

  • Collected Works (30 volumes)

I. A. Richards

  • Richards, I. A. and C. K. Ogden, C. K. The Meaning of Meaning: a Study of the Influence of Language Upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism . Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1938.
  • Richards, I. A. and C. K. Ogden, C. K. The Foundations of Aesthetics.  International Publishers, 1925. ( Print and eBook .)

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Literary Theory and Criticism

Home › Uncategorized › Russian Formalism: An Essay

Russian Formalism: An Essay

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on March 17, 2016 • ( 10 )

Russian Formalism, which emerged around 1915 and flourished in the 1920s, was associated with the OPOJAZ (Society for the Study of Poetic Language) and with the Moscow Linguistic Society (one of the leading figures of which was Roman Jakobson) and Prague Linguistic Circle (established in 1926, with major figures as Boris Eichenbaum and Viktor Shklovsky) The school derives its name from “form”, as these critics studied the form of literary work rather than its content, emphasizing on the “formal devices” such as rhythm, metre, rhyme, metaphor, syntax or narrative technique.

Formalism views literature as a special mode of language and proposes a  fundamental opposition between poetic/literary language and the practical/ordinary language. While ordinary language serves the purpose of communication, literary language is self-reflexive, in that it offers readers a special experience by drawing attention to its “formal devices”, which Roman Jakobson calls “literariness’ — that which makes a given work a literary work. Jan Mukarovsky described literariness as consisting in the “maximum of foregrounding of the utterance”, and the primary aim of such foregrounding, as Shklovsky described in his Art as Technique , is to “estrange or “defamiliarize”. Thus literary language is ordinary language deformed and made strange. Literature, by forcing us into a dramatic awareness of language, refreshes our habitual perceptions and renders objects more perceptible.

Though Formalism focused primarily on poetry, later Shklovsky, Todorov and Propp analysed the language of fiction, and the way in which it produced the effect of defamiliarization. They looked at the structure of a narrative and explored how elements like plot and characterization contributed to the narrative’s effect. Propp studied folk narratives () and Shklovsky treated Sterne’s Tristram Shandy , as a novel that parodied earlier conventions of writing.

Jakobson and Todorov were influential in introducing Formalist concepts and methods into French Structuralism. Formalism was strongly opposed by some Marxist critics, proponents of Reader Response theory, Speech Act theory and New Historicism – all reject the view that there is a sharp and definable distinction between ordinary language and literary language.


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Formalist Strategies in Literary Criticism Essay

The fundamental aspect of a formalist critic is to visualize a literary work from the perspective of “ language, structure and tone ” (Meyer 1538). This form of criticism is more about the vibe of literature rather than the interpretation of its structural foundation. This is a new tool in the hands of a writer and the writer can benefit from it immensely as it provides the opportunity to explore a whole new world of literary understanding of insight, sensitivity, perception, and perspective.

If we analyze the approach of a formalist critic we would see that this form of criticism is more dependent on imageries presented in the text rather than the basics of the literature. Its approach appears to be more suited for criticism of poetry rather than novel or academic writings. However, this form of criticism can be beneficial if used properly. Maynard Mack’s “The World of Hamlet” is such an example of the able use of the approach. He interprets the character of Hamlet in a completely new level of understanding, and this is regarded as one of the finest examples of formalist strategies. Again, in Kate Choplin’s story “The Story of an Hour”, with a formalist approach, one can derive the ironic situation of the main character of the story. These are the occasions when a formalist critic can analyze and evaluate the fundamentals of a text without even describing the plot or the characters of the literature.

Thus, it is obvious that the formalist critic depends on the basic vibe of the literature rather than the literature itself. It can be well stated that this form of analysis or criticism is more intricate and sensitive. It can be stated as a responsive method because it directly deals with the inner core of the plot or structure of the literature and not the plot itself with the help of literary tools like ironies or paradoxes. It is also more susceptible in a sense because while dealing with elements like metaphors and symbols, it evokes the intention of the author in a more perceptive manner. It is difficult to reach such an outcome with the help of traditional tools of criticism like plot, settings, or characterizations of the literature.

Thus, it is obvious that the analysis of tone is more sensitive than analysis of plot or criticizing with the help of structure is more insightful than the use of characterizations. Similarly, with the use of language and its evaluation one would be able to present an intuitive vibe that, otherwise, would not evoke through a traditional style of criticism with the help of setting of the text. As a result, Shakespeare’s depiction of Hamlet as the principal avenger of the play along with his dealing with the senses of loss and frailty reaches a new level with the formalist discussion. Similarly, the symbolic equivocations in the story, along with the thematic depiction of renewal and rebirth, set the character of Mrs. Mallard alive in a different aspect.

However, it is not the objective to prove traditional criticism as an obsolete or unhelpful tool, rather it can be stated that the use of Formalist criticism has provided a new perspective of literal analysis that was not present earlier. In conclusion, it can be stated that Formalist criticism and strategies are a special part of literature review, and they just enrich the literature by deploying new avenues of discussion.

Works Cited

Meyer, Michael. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing . St. Martin’s: Bedford, 2008.

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IvyPanda. (2021, December 31). Formalist Strategies in Literary Criticism. https://ivypanda.com/essays/formalist-strategies-in-literary-criticism/

"Formalist Strategies in Literary Criticism." IvyPanda , 31 Dec. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/formalist-strategies-in-literary-criticism/.

IvyPanda . (2021) 'Formalist Strategies in Literary Criticism'. 31 December.

IvyPanda . 2021. "Formalist Strategies in Literary Criticism." December 31, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/formalist-strategies-in-literary-criticism/.

1. IvyPanda . "Formalist Strategies in Literary Criticism." December 31, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/formalist-strategies-in-literary-criticism/.


IvyPanda . "Formalist Strategies in Literary Criticism." December 31, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/formalist-strategies-in-literary-criticism/.

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Literary Theory Essay Sample: Examples of Formalism

literary theory essay

Formalism is a branch of literary theory that became widespread at the beginning of the 20th century. It has evolved as a reaction to the traditional position on the priority of content over form. Formalists argued that the content of literature changes due to historical causes, while the forms of art have historical stability. For example, novel structure has not significantly changed in several centuries. In the following literary theory essay the author has shown several examples of formalism in literature.

What Are Some Good Examples of Formalism in Literature? Formalism is a method of criticism which “examines a literary text or artwork through its aesthetic composition such as form, language, technique and style” (Formalism, 2018). Formalism began in Russia during the 20th century by a group of linguists who desired a straightforward analysis to text examination. Rather than incorporating societal, historical, or cultural influences into a critique of a literary work, proponents of formalism believe in examining the work as it is. Although outside influences can improve one’s understanding of a composition, there must first be a focus on the composition itself. One story that is closely examined in a formalist fashion is Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. A man named Gregor Samsa is suddenly transformed into a bug. His “abrupt and unexplained transformation is juxtaposed with a lot of really mundane day-to-day details” (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). From a close reading, one can get a glimpse of the loneliness that Gregor feels on a daily basis and the transformation could be a literal manifestation of Gregor’s alienation from society. Another literary work that can be closely examined is Translations from the Natural World by Les Murray. In this poetry book, “Murray makes birds, cows, bats, and other favorites of the animal kingdom talk” (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). The structure, language, and literary devices presented in each poem provide a unique way in which Murray can express a different emotion. By closely analyzing the text, one can appreciate the artistry of his words while also understanding the importance of viewing life through a different lens. Academia has long relied on a formalist approach to literary work. Students are first encouraged to study the intricacies of the text before integrating the external influences. To analyze a piece of art, one must first be acquainted with the way it is presented. Only then can it be appreciated for what it is, rather than how it relates to broader context. Works Cited Formalism. (2018, January 9). Retrieved January 9, 2018, from http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/virtualtheorist/formalism/ Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). The Metamorphosis. Retrieved January 9, 2018, from https://www.shmoop.com/metamorphosis/ Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Formalism Texts – Translations from the Natural World by Les Murray (1992). Retrieved January 9, 2018, from https://www.shmoop.com/formalism/translations-from-the-natural-world-text.html

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Thanks for the info! Borrowed for my essay 😉

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Great sample though.

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Home / Essay Samples / Literature / Literary Criticism / “Desire” – Formalist Criticism Example of the Story

“Desire” - Formalist Criticism Example of the Story

  • Category: Literature
  • Topic: Book Review , Literary Criticism , Literature Review

Pages: 2 (1046 words)

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  • Rheynely Follow. (2015, July 08). Formalism ppt. 
  • A Brief Guide to Formalist Criticism: How to Go About It - A Research Guide. (2018, August 21).
  • Crossman, A. (2018, December 07). What is Feminist Theory? 

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