Crafting Your Contribution: Research Notes or Research Papers?


At IAPSS Politikon, we value the diverse voices and insights that enrich the field of political science. That's why we accept a range of contributions, from compact research notes to in-depth research papers. Both research notes and research papers undergo a thorough peer-review process to ensure quality and impactful publication. But how do you know which format is right for you? Making the right choice not only aligns with your content but also enhances your chances of successful publication.

The primary difference between a research note and a research paper lies in their length, scope, and depth of content. Both serve as vehicles for sharing research findings, but they cater to different levels of contribution and significance within the scholarly community. 


Research paper: A research paper is a comprehensive and in-depth academic article that typically ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 words, excluding references and appendices. 

Research note: A research note is typically more narrow in scope compared to a research paper. It is a short academic article, usually between 2,500 and 5,000 words. 


Research paper: A research paper is expected to present original research that significantly contributes to the scholarly literature. It requires a detailed and extensive discussion of the research question, a comprehensive review of relevant literature, a thorough explanation of the research methodology and data analysis techniques, and a comprehensive presentation of results. The content is rich and detailed, allowing for a deep exploration of the research topic.

Research note: A research note focuses on a more specific aspect of research and is often used to communicate smaller-scale findings or novel methodologies. While it still follows a standardized format, a research note might provide less extensive details about the research design and methodology compared to a research paper. It is meant to quickly communicate a valuable insight, finding, or method to the research community.


Research paper: Research papers contribute substantially to the existing body of knowledge within a specific (sub)field. They present comprehensive research that has undergone rigorous analysis, making a significant impact on the understanding of a particular phenomenon.

Research note: Research notes, while shorter, still offer valuable contributions. They might introduce new angles, minor findings, preliminary results, or innovative methodologies that provide valuable insights or prompt further research. They are particularly suitable for sharing findings that might not warrant an entire research paper but are still worth sharing.


Research paper: Research papers are well-suited for making comprehensive conceptual or theoretical contributions. These contributions involve introducing new frameworks, models, paradigms, or theories that reshape the understanding of a particular phenomenon. Research papers offer the space and depth needed to thoroughly explain and explore these new concepts. The paper would typically include a detailed literature review to contextualize the new concept within the existing knowledge landscape, an extensive explanation of the concept's underlying principles, and possibly examples or empirical evidence to support its applicability. Theoretical contributions made in research papers often have the potential to significantly influence the direction of the field and guide future research endeavors.

Research note: In addition to communicating empirical findings, research notes can also introduce new concepts, albeit in a more compact manner compared to research papers. They often highlight novel ideas, emerging trends, or preliminary frameworks that offer fresh perspectives to the scholarly community. These conceptual contributions might not be fully developed theories but can lay the groundwork for further exploration. Research notes are particularly valuable for quickly sharing innovative concepts and sparking interest among researchers. However, due to the limited length, the elaboration on the new concept might be more concise than in a research paper.


Research Paper:

What? Explaining a major concept or presenting findings of a comprehensive empirical study.

How? Detailing a new concept or methodological framework with lots of explanation.

Why? To reshape how scholars understand a concept, event, or phenomenon.


Research note:

What? Sharing a quick insight.

How? Briefly introducing a new idea or approach.

Why? To catch the attention of other researchers and get them thinking about something fresh.


In a nutshell, research notes are like quick sparks of insight, while research papers are like comprehensive guides that transform the way your fellow scholars think about politics. The choice depends on how much you want to share about your new idea.