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Peer Review and Scholarly Articles

This guide will teach you about finding scholarly and peer-reviewed articles and journals. You will learn how to spot them by recognizing certain elements.

Elements of a Peer-Reviewed Article

Articles in peer-reviewed or scholarly journals almost always report original research. The article will usually have these elements:

  • Author(s) credentials or academic affiliation
  • A lengthy abstract
  • Report on the research methodology
  • Conclusion or results of the research
  • Footnotes or in-text references
  • A lengthy bibliography
Is everything peer-reviewed in a Peer-Reviewed Journal?

Not all items that appear in peer reviewed journals are actually peer reviewed. Articles that require a certain level of scholarly effort such as research studies, experiments and literature reviews are peer reviewed. Items appearing in peer reviewed journals that are not peer reviewed are;

  • Letters to the editor
  • Opinion pieces
  • Book reviews
  • Commentaries
  • Introductions

Keep that in mind when you limit your search to peer review. The results list may contain some of the above items that are not peer reviewed. Make sure you check what type of item you are looking at before you assume it is peer reviewed simply because it appears in a peer reviewed journal.

How to limit a database search to peer-reviewed

Most library databases contain a variety of materials including magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers, etc. You can limit your search to include only those articles from scholarly or peer-reviewed journals. Below is an example from the Academic Search Complete database:

how to limit a database to peer-reviewed