What Is The Difference Between A White Paper And An Academic Research Paper?

Are you confused about the terms white paper and academic research paper? Do you think that they are the same? The answer is no; there is a big difference between them. The white paper describes in detail the product description or service of any company and how it is benefits them in addressing a problem. In contrast, an academic research paper describes the information about something new in the research field. It uses scientific knowledge and previous research findings to produce new research or cover current literature gaps. Mainly it is used by graduation students to write a paper for their degree programs. However, due to the difficulty level, some students get research proposal help to complete it. This article will discuss the difference between white papers and academic research papers. First, let’s discuss the objectives and methodologies of both in detail.

What is White Paper?

A white paper refers to a report showing a problem and its particular solution based on in-depth research and knowledge of an organisation’s expert. Corporations use white papers to offer clients information about specific products and services. It is an informational document that provides accurate details about the service’s features and how they are beneficial. However, it is not used for advertising, though it can provide in-depth analysis and offer a particular solution to the problems faced by the industry. It is usually written by a company member or an expert in the field. Most of the time, white papers compose an argument for the commercial issues and then provide a solution with claims and supporting evidence. The white paper has become a marketing tool that presents the products and services of the organisation.

The Audience For A White Paper:

White paper readers are usually read by the public, or they may be read by different companies who are facing a similar issue. It is a recommendation for the clients and other businesses. For this purpose, you must focus on the client’s needs and the market problems. If you address a situation that another organisation may face, then they will be interested in how you got the solution. The white paper is about getting the readers’ attention to your services and products by an indirect approach. Before starting your white paper, you must analyse the problem and grab your reader’s interest.

Purpose of a White Paper:

It is mainly used by organisations or businesses to grab the attention of a new product or service for the client. An excellent white paper engages the audience towards the product. In other words, it enhances the company’s credibility and market presence. A white paper also helps in establishing startups and small businesses. They can start by writing and pointing out the specific services and get a presence in the market. It plays a significant role for the businessman to share necessary information about their perspectives.

Methods to Write White Paper:

A white paper provides clear and concise information to the readers. You can see the templates of white papers to get an idea. A well-organised white paper generates organic traffic to your services. You must follow some steps to write an excellent white paper essay.

  1. Choose a Topic for Research.
  2. Create an Outline for your Paper
  3. Create an engaging introduction
  4. Provide useful information
  5. Format your white paper correctly as it increases readability
  6. Organise the draft of the white paper
  7. Start to write
  8. Conclude your paper
  9. Proofread

What is Academic Research Paper?

An academic research paper may be written for the university professor in the final year of graduation, or it may be your course research paper. You can publish your papers in journals to show your research findings. The purpose of an academic research paper is to persuade the readers that your results or thoughts are beneficial and are fulfilling some research gap. It is in academic writing style, which means it needs in-depth analysis, evaluation and interpretation by providing supporting evidence. You need to have strong knowledge about the topic, support your arguments with other researchers’ points, claim the conflicts that occurred and give your reasoning on a specific problem, or it can be about new findings in your research. 

What Steps Are Necessary Before Writing An Academic Research Paper?

You must follow the following steps to write a successful academic research paper.

  1. Select your topic, and make sure it should be unique
  2. Create an Outline for the academic research paper
  3. Understand the problem or topic and brainstorm to formulate a research question
  4. Research on the topic to gather relevant data or information
  5. Make a thesis statement summarising your research paper within two to three sentences
  6. Collect supporting evidence
  7. Start writing your academic research paper
  8. Cite reference sources correctly
  9. Conclude your research
  10. Proofread the paper

Differences Between White Paper and Academic Research Paper:

After reading the above discussion, you will see a vast difference between white and academic research papers. White papers are written for the company to enhance their product or services in the eyes of customers. For this purpose, the company staff need to recognise the facts and determine a new plan that addresses the current problem in the organisation. Collect information about the issue and how the solution will address it and benefit the company. Mostly the writers take two to 3 days to complete it. Final approval is by the company’s CEO or by the director.

While undergraduate students write research papers to discover new data, it may cover a gap in the research on a particular topic. The researchers analyse and interpret the data by conducting surveys or interviews. The university’s faculty members check the papers and approve them for publication. However, it is a very lengthy task and usually takes six months to over a year.


Each of the above are written to display a particular type of academic writing. Both need to be based on some form of research, but the approach is different and so is the overall look. White papers are generally more fact and figures based, while academic papers contain a lot more commentary and opinion. The format can also vary between the two, even though they both appear to be using similar types of formatting. Both papers propose a theory (even if it is not stated explicitly). The main difference lies in knowing that White papers tend to focus on the practical aspects of the theory, while Academic Research papers are more interested in its theoretical underpinnings.

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