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White papers, working papers, research articles: What's the difference?


Journalists rely on three types of research papers most often in their work: White papers, working papers and peer-reviewed journal articles.

How are they different? And which is best?

Below, we explain each, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses. As always, we urge journalists to use care in selecting any research to ground their coverage and fact-check claims.


Peer-reviewed article

13 Questions Journalist Should Ask


Academic research is one of journalists’ best tools for covering public policy issues. It’s also a tool that takes skill to use.

Experienced journalists use research to ground their work and fact-check claims made by politicians, policymakers and others. Many journalists, however, are not trained in research methods and statistical analysis. Some have difficulty differentiating between a quality study and a questionable one.

4 tips for understanding statistics from FiveThirtyEight's Christie Aschwanden


Reporting on academic research can push journalists out of the comfortable realm of words and into the less-familiar territory of numbers. Like it or not, though, statistics often comprise a key element of scientific studies, so it’s helpful to have some familiarity with the basics.