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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.

TIP: Peer Review vs. Article Review

Review articles and Peer-reviewed articles are not the same thing! Review articles synthesize and analyze the results of multiple studies on a topic; peer-reviewed articles are articles of any kind that have been vetted for quality by an expert or number of experts in the field. The bibliographies of review articles can be a great source of original, peer-reviewed empirical articles.

Peer-Reviewed Articles & Journals

Peer reviewed materials are publications reviewed by "experts in the field" or referees prior to the publication of the material. After reading and evaluating the material, the referee informs the publisher if the document should be published or if any changes should be made prior to publication. Peer reviewed materials are also referred to as Refereed. Peer reviewed materials are significant to the research and the literature of most academic fields because they assure readers that the information conveyed is reliable and timely.

Non-refereed materials such as trade journals or magazines use less rigorous standards of screening prior to publication. In some publications, each article may be only screened by the publication's editor. While knowledgeable, no editor can be an authority on all the subject matter printed in a journal. 

The term "scholarly materials" is often used to describe refereed materials, but this term is not exclusive to refereed material. Non-refereed materials may not by scrutinized as intensely as refereed materials, but they can still be considered scholarly. Also, trade journals and magazines can be valuable sources of information in their own right, depending on what you are looking for.

What is Peer-Reviewed?

When a source has been peer-reviewed it has undergone the review and scrutiny of a review board of colleagues in the author's field. They evaluate this source as part of the body of research for a particular discipline and make recommendations regarding its publication in a journal, revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication.

Peer-Review in 3 Minutes

Published on May 1, 2014

How do articles get peer reviewed? What role does peer review play in scholarly research and publication? This video will explain.
This video is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license.

No One is Perfect

Peer review isn't perfect! Sometimes reviewers miss things. Whether it's unintentional mistakes or deliberate fraud, misinformation can get through the process but hopefully is caught post-publication by eagle-eyed researchers and readers.