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What is a Peer-Reviewed Article? (Loyd Sealy Library)
In academic publishing, the goal of peer review is to assess the quality of articles submitted for publication in a scholarly journal. Before an article is deemed appropriate to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, it must undergo the following process:
The author of the article must submit it to the journal editor who forwards the article to experts in the field. Because the reviewers specialize in the same scholarly area as the author, they are considered the author’s peers (hence “peer review”).
These impartial reviewers are charged with carefully evaluating the quality of the submitted manuscript.
The peer reviewers check the manuscript for accuracy and assess the validity of the research methodology and procedures.
If appropriate, they suggest revisions. If they find the article lacking in scholarly validity and rigor, they reject it.
Because a peer-reviewed journal will not publish articles that fail to meet the standards established for a given discipline, peer-reviewed articles that are accepted for publication exemplify the best research practices in a field.
Primary & Secondary Sources
Primary Sources are records of events or evidence as they are first described or actually happened without any interpretation or commentary. It is information that is shown for the first time or original materials on which other research is based.
Original written works (poems, diaries, court records, interviews, surveys, original research or fieldwork, research published in a peer-reviewed journal)
Secondary Sources offer an analysis or restatement of primary sources. They often try to describe or explain primary sources. They tend to be works which summarize, interpret, reorganize, or otherwise provide an added value to a primary source.
Books and articles that interpret, analyze, critique, or review original fieldwork
Popular v. Scholarly
(UC Santa Cruz Library)
Features of a Peer-Reviewed Article (Loyd Sealy Library)
When you are determining whether or not the article you found is a peer-reviewed article, you should consider the following.
Does the article have the following features?
Is the journal in which you found the article published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society, professional association, or university academic department? Does it describe itself as a peer-reviewed publication? (To know that, check the journal's website).
Did you find a citation for it in one of the databases that includes scholarly publications? (Academic Search Complete, PsycINFO, etc.)? Read the database description to see if it includes scholarly publications.
In the database, did you limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed publications? (See video tutorial below for a demonstration.)
Is the topic of the article narrowly focused and explored in depth?
Is the article based on either original research or authorities in the field (as opposed to personal opinion)?
Is the article written for readers with some prior knowledge of the subject?
If your field is social or natural science, is the article divided into sections with headings such as those listed below?