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Find Peer-Reviewed Articles

A quick lesson defining peer-reviewed articles and providing tips on how to identify them.

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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.