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.
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 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. Scroll down the databases screen to see the complete list of background information databases.