A research report can often be simply an information report. On a controversial issue, this means gathering others' opinions and evidence supporting those opinions and then presenting both (or all) sides of the issue, so that you demonstrate a full understanding of the issue and the viewpoints on it.
In a persuasive essay, you do similar research, but come to a conclusion yourself and then present the evidence that supports the conclusion you make. Your goal in that essay is to convince, rather than merely inform, the reader of one point of view and why you believe it is the correct one.
A research report will include information that you both agree and disagree with. It does not require you to form an opinion and try to persuade the reader regarding your opinion. It does not matter that the topic is controversial or not, in fact that makes it even better because you can find more information on the topic and write about different points of view.
A persuasive essay is just the opposite. Your goal here is try to persuade the reader to believe what you believe. You will of course choose a topic that is controversial. You will want to be either for or against an issue. When writing a persuasive paper it is very important to remember to open your paper with a hook. This means you will want to grab the readers attention. You can do this by opening with a quote, a statistic, or a question.
The research report is highly driven by evidence. The research paper is one that attempts to bring out a thesis supported or analyzed with evidence in the field. It is based on what can be proven with data in terms of outside sources. The research paper incorporates the writer's voice in the form of a thesis, or argument to prove, and the writer's grasp of evidence and research in the scope of the topic area. A persuasive paper is similar in its ideas of being able to prove a particular item, but it does so through analysis of the writer as well the ability to assert personal thought into the ability to convince, not as much prove.