Thursday, May 1, 2014

What is peer review?

Have your professors ever asked you to look for "peer-reviewed" articles to use for your paper? Perhaps you nodded thoughtfully and took notes, all the while wondering, "What the heck is peer review?!"

What Is It?
First, you should know that an academic journal is a periodical (newspaper, journal, or magazine) with articles written by academics or scholars on a specialized topic.

Second, although most periodicals have an editing and review process, academic journals with peer review take this a step further.  Published articles must pass a rigorous review by the scholar's peers, who are experts on a given topic.  Peer reviewers often use criterion such as research methodology, relevance to the field, the author's credentials, and more. 

Academic/scholarly vs. peer-reviewed journals
The phrases academic journal, scholarly journal and peer-reviewed journal are often  used interchangeably*.  However, not all academic journals use peer review. 

How to check your article for peer review
If you click Peer-reviewed when searching any of our databases, the articles in your results should fall into this category. 

To double-check that your article is peer-reviewed, enter the EXACT title (with quotation marks around it) into Ulrich's database (click Databases: A-Z on our homepage to find it).  If it is peer-reviewed (also known as "refereed") you will see a black and white referee shirt icon like the one in the picture.

Note: multiple search results for the same title often occur for different formats, such as print, online, and microform.  For a more detailed search, use the Advanced Search feature.

A "referee shirt" icon indicates that a periodical is peer-refereed (or reviewed).

*Some academic or scholarly journals can also be "open-access," which means that you do not have to be subscribed to a database to read them. Here is an example.

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