What is a peer-reviewed article?
A peer-reviewed article is published in a peer-reviewed journal only after it has been subjected to multiple critiques by scholars in that field. Peer-reviewed journals follow this procedure to make sure that published articles reflect solid scholarship and advance the state of knowledge in a discipline.
These articles present the best and most authoritative information that disciplines have to offer. Also, through the careful use of citations, a peer-reviewed article allows anyone who reads it to examine the bases of the claims made in the article. Peer-reviewed articles lead to many articles in a chain of information.
One drawback to the peer-review process is that articles may not appear for one or two years after they are written. For this reason they are not the best sources to seek for hot, news-driven topics.
Are scholarly and peer-reviewed articles the same thing?
Peer-reviewed and scholarly journals are related but not identical. Not all scholarly journals go through the peer-review process. However, one can assume that a peer-reviewed journal is scholarly.
How can I tell if an article is a peer-reviewed article?
- First of all, make sure it is an ARTICLE. Not everything that appears in a peer-reviewed journal is an article. Peer-reviewed journals also contain items such as editorials and book reviews, and these are not subjected to the same level of critique
- The presence of several of the following traits often indicates that an article is peer-reviewed:
- A lot of citations: these may appear in-text, and/or as footnotes, endnotes, works cited, reference list, bibliography
- An Abstract (brief description of the article)
- The organization of the article into discrete sections such as Methodology, Results, and Conclusion
- Charts, tables, or graphs
- Complex, formal language that is specific to the field
- Notes indicating when article was submitted and when it was accepted
- If you want to be certain that the journal in which the article appears is peer-reviewed, you can explore the Homepage of the journal on the Internet. Peer-reviewed journals are usually proud to announce that they are peer-reviewed.
Can databases help me identify peer-reviewed articles?
Some databases allow you to select for "peer-reviewed" results only. This can be very helpful, but beware: not all these results will be ARTICLES or peer-reviewed. Some will be book reviews and editorials, and these are not subjected to the same level of critique.
When searching from the "Search by Subject" page, a graduation cap icon signals that the item is from a peer-reviewed journal — but again, be careful to assess whether the item is an article!