Scholarly peer review (or "refereeing") is a process of having experts in a field evaluate a research paper or book for quality prior to publication. The opinion of the experts (so the "peers" of the author of the paper or book) helps the editors of an academic journal or publisher decide if the work is good enough (or original enough, done with the best methodology, etc.) to publish. The reviewers also usually give recommendations on how the author can improve their work. Peer review is meant to assure that quality research is published.
How peer review is conducted:
- The author submits their work to the editor of a journal/scholarly publisher who decides if the article topic fits their scope for publishing. If it fits, they forward the article to expert peer reviewers in that field for review.
- The reviewers evaluate the quality, accuracy, methodology, and validity of the manuscript.
- Reviewers suggest changes and recommend if the manuscript should be published or not.
How to Identify Peer Reviewed Resources
- Limit searches to "Peer Reviewed" items:
- OneSearch (the main library search bar) allows you to filter results to "peer reviewed" items.
- Many databases also allow you to do this; for example, Academic Search Premier has this feature on the initial search screen - click on the pertinent box to limit the search.
- In some databases you may have to go to an “advanced” or “expert” search screen to do this. Some databases do not have this filter option.Peer-reviewed articles and publications will generally be from reputable journals or publishers. Do an internet search to find out more about the publisher and author. Peer-reviewed scholarly articles will have a specific format: look for an abstract, introduction, literature review, methods section, discussion, conclusion and bibliography. Generally, they will not have illustrations or be in "popular" publications for the general public.
- The database Ulrichsweb.com (enter this name in the library main search bar) can be used to determine if a journal is indicated peer-reviewed.
- Type in the exact title of the journal including any initial A, AN, or THE in the title.
- If your journal title IS displayed, check to see if the journal is refereed (peer reviewed) by looking at the column on the left with the little striped referee shirt symbol. If that symbol is present, that journal is peer reviewed.
- Examine the journal itself for a declaration of peer-review. You can look on the main website for the journal or on the "masthead" (imprint) of the publication, which is a section at the beginning (or maybe end) of an individual issue that names the editors and affiliated staff.
- In electronic journals, you will often find a link to "journal homepage" from any article you open.
- You may need to search the homepage to find their peer review policy, which should include their process for conducting peer review.