What is Peer Review?

The peer-review process tries to ensure that the highest quality research gets published.

When an article is submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, the editor after deciding if the article meets the basic requirements for inclusion, sends it to be reviewed by other scholars (the author's peers) within the same field.  These reviewers provide feedback to the editor to reject the paper, accept the paper as is, or accept the paper with author revisions.  

  • The peer-review system is not without flaws. The Retraction Watch blog informs the public when articles are retracted due to various reasons, including plagiarism, error, and fraud.

How can I tell if a particular journal is considered peer-reviewed or refereed?

  • Go to the library database Ulrichsweb
  • Search by the title of the journal (not the article title)
  • If you see this icon  (think referee's jersey) then the title is considered peer-reviewed

How can I tell if a particular article is peer-reviewed? Peer-reviewed articles may include some or all of these elements (individual mileage may vary):

  • abstract, introduction, literature review
  • methods, results, discussion, conclusion
  • references, figures & tables

Even if a journal is considered peer-reviewed, not all articles within that journal are actually peer-reviewed, examples include:

  • letters to the editor
  • new briefs
  • editorials
  • review articles
  • book reviews
NOTE: An article may be considered scholarly, for example, a conference proceeding or technical report, but you cannot assume it was peer-reviewed. Need help?  Talk to a librarian!