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PSYCH 122 - Research Methods

Use this guide to complete your Psychology 122 research assignment

Peer Reviewed / Refereed Journals

What is a journal?

  • Scholarly journals exist to disseminate new & important information within an academic discipline or professional fiel.
  • Journal articles are written by experts who work within these disciplines and fields
  • Journal articles are aimed at an audience of other experts within that discipline or field
  • Journals often contain studies and experiments

Picture of an issue of JAMA Picture of an issue of JSWP


How can I identify a journal?

Look for: 

  • Author credentials such as advanced degrees and professional/academic affiliations
  • Articles that are often substantially longer than articles in magazines and newspapers
  • Heavy use of discipline-specific vocabulary and concepts. 
  • Extensive bibliographies of cited sources.

Where does peer review fit into all of this?

Peer review is a process that some  scholarly journal publishers use to ensure the articles they publish represent the best scholarship currently available. Peer-reviewed journals are sometimes called "refereed" journals. When an article is submitted to a peer-reviewed/refereed journal, the editors send it out to other scholars in the same field to get their opinion on the quality of the scholarship and its relevance and importance to the field. This means that when an article is finally published in a peer-reviewed publication, there is a consensus among experts that the information communicated in that article is of the highest quality.

Not all scholarly publications are peer-reviewed, though it is very common for professors to request peer-reviewed articles to ensure you are exposed to the most credible information within your discipline.

Journals sound intense!

The specific nature of journal articles, combined with the use of specialized vocabulary, means they are not always easy to read for the non-expert. It it is recommended that students have some basic knowledge about their topic before delving into scholarly information. This basic knowledge might be gleaned, for instance, from some of our Background Information databases below. Be sure to scroll down the databases page to see these.

Use Library Databases to Find Peer-Reviewed Journals

The MJC Library subscribes to several databases providing access to peer-reviewed journals. Not only do these databases provide access to this type of material, but they allow you to limit your searches to retrieve only peer-reviewed content. Take a look at the videos on the left for step-by-step instructions on how to limit your searches on various databases.

Video Instructions for Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

Use the videos below to see how easy it is to find academic journal articles in two of our most used databases.


Using Google Scholar to Find Peer-Reviewed Journals

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a vertical search engine, searching only a select portion of the web. It searches across many disciplines to find journal articles, books, theses, court opinions, and content from academic publishers, professional societies, and a select academic web sites. 

Only some of the sources on Google Scholar arei available in full-text format, though you can also connect Google Scholar to the MJC Library so it will identify those sources available through the Library databases. To configure this, go to "hamburger menu" and choose Settings, then choose Library Links. You can link to the Modesto Junior College by typing it into the search box and selecting it. 

There is no way to limit to peer-reviewed journals, but you can easily search journal names to determine their status.

An MJC Librarian can help you access Google Scholar, add the MJC Library to the settings, conduct effective searches, and determine if the journal articles you find are peer reviewed.