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What is a scholarly (peer-Reviewed) journal? How do I identify peer-reviewed articles?


A scholarly (peer-Reviewed) journal, sometimes called a “refereed” journal, contains articles that have been critiqued or reviewed by peers in a specific academic field or discipline. Peers are defined as colleagues or authorities in the same field. For example, the Journal of Psychology is a scholarly (peer-Reviewed) journal. Therefore, you can assume that the articles in this journal have been critiqued or reviewed by scholars in the psychology field. This review process prior to publication ensures that the articles are of high quality.

Here are some tips for identifying a peer-reviewed article:

1.    If the journal title contains the term “journal” this will often indicate that the journal will be scholarly (peer-reviewed). Some publications, however, contain the word journal but are not scholarly (peer-reviewed), for example, newspapers such as The Daily Journal or The Wall Street Journal.

2.    In a scholarly (peer-reviewed) article, the author(s) will most likely list their academic credentials and affiliations at the beginning of the article.

3.    The scholarly (peer-reviewed) article will usually begin with an abstract (summary) section.

4.    The scholarly (peer-reviewed) article will either introduce an original study or experiment, or alternatively will be a literature review that evaluates research by other scholars.

5.    The scholarly (peer-reviewed) article’s tone is not opinionated, biased, or advisory. Rather, the scholarly (peer-reviewed) article will present a hypothesis and support the hypothesis with facts, original research, and other scholars’ cited works.

6.    The scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles cited references will be listed at the end of the article. This list of references or bibliography usually will be labeled with the term “References” or “Works Cited”.

7.    The scholarly (peer-reviewed) article will treat the subject matter in a serious manner, not an entertaining or humorous manner. Images and illustrations are used sparingly and only when visual displays are deemed more appropriate than written text. Also, since a scholarly (peer-reviewed) article treats subject matter in a serious manner, the article is usually fairly long.

8.    The scholarly (peer-reviewed) article uses scholarly terminology rather than slang. For example, a non-scholarly article about teenagers might use the term “teens,” while a scholarly article is more likely to refer to this cohort group as “adolescents.”

How can I identify if a print journal is peer reviewed?

If you have the print copy of the journal that contains the article, you can turn to the editorial policy page toward the front of the issue and check if the editors state that the journal contains peer reviewed or refereed articles.

How do I identify if an online journal is peer reviewed?

Many of the library’s databases provide the option to limit your search to scholarly/peer-reviewed articles. Although this limit option will limit the search results to articles published in scholarly/peer-reviewed journals, the results may also include letters to the editor, editorials, and book reviews, all of which have not gone through a peer-review process.

To find out whether a journal is peer reviewed or not, you can Search the journal title in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (accessible on campus only):

·         Ulrich’s is a database that lists thousands of journal titles in all academic and popular subjects; it will also tell you whether a journal is peer–reviewed or not

·         Please note that Ulrich’s does not contain all journal titles

To get to Ulrich’s from the Library website:

·         Go to the Library’s home page and search for Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to access it online

·         In Ulrich's, Type the title of the journal in the search box, e.g. Journal of Popular Cultureand click Search

·         The quotation marks will make Ulrich’s find the exact phrase

·         If this icon appears: Refereed next to a journal title, it means that the journal is peer-reviewed, or refereed, as they call it in Ulrich’s. That icon is supposed to be a referee’s shirt

·        Click the title of the journal that you’re searching to see its full record. There will be a line saying “Refereed” and “Yes” if it’s peer-reviewed. If it’s not peer-reviewed, it will either say “No” or the “Refereed” line won’t be there at all

What if I still am unsure if a periodical is scholarly (peer-reviewed)?

If you are still unsure if an article is scholarly (peer-reviewed), ask a Reference Librarian for assistance.

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