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Quantitative Research Methods - PSYC/SOCI 325 Research Guide: Understand Peer Review

The study of applied research in the behavioral and social sciences, with an emphasis on design, methodology, results interpretation, and theory building

What Is Peer Review?

Peer review is the process by which an article is screened and evaluated by a panel of experts before it is published. 

The reviewers will evaluate the article for:

  • Quality.
  • Credibility.
  • Accuracy.
  • Clear writing.
  • New contributions to knowledge.
  • Sound methodology.
  • Conclusions supported by the data. 

Peer-reviewed journals are also known as refereed or juried journals. 

Words of Caution

Peer-reviewed journals do contain some information that is itself not refereed, such as editorials, opinions, letters, and book reviews.  So, you need to consider whether the individual article or essay has been reviewed and approved by other scholars.

How Can I Limit My Searches to Peer-Reviewed Journals?

Many databases have an option for limiting to peer-reviewed journals.  Check the limit options on the advanced search screen of a database to see if you can limit your search to articles that have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Look for options such as

  • Peer Reviewed.
  • Refereed
  • Academic or scholarly journals.  (Be advised that journals can be academic or scholarly without being peer reviewed.)

 

How Can I Know If a Particular Journal is Peer Reviewed?

The Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection and SocINDEX with Full Text databases each has a publications section in which you can look up a journal title.  The last field in the description of a journal tells you if it is peer reviewed or not. To do this:

  1. Access the database.
  2. Click on Publications in the blue banner near the top.
  3. Type the journal title in the lower of the two boxes and click on Browse.
  4. Look at the Peer Reviewed field, the last line of the publication record.

If a journal is not listed in either of those two databases, try these options:

  • Access the PsycARTICLES database's publications section.  If a journal title is included in it, the journal is peer reviewed.  All journals in PsycARTICLES are peer reviewed.
  • Look at the website of the journal for descriptive information about the publication or for instructions for authors interested in submitting a manuscript.  If the journal is peer reviewed, that will be stated.  Another website to check is that of the publisher of the journal.
  • Look for this same type of information in the first few pages of the journal itself.  The front or back cover may also indicate the publication is peer reviewed.

Why Is Peer Review Important?

It helps ensures that published articles are of high quality and that new knowledge is being created.

As a student, you can be confident that you are using authoritative sources.

To Learn More about Peer Review

Watch these two videos produced by other libraries:

Acknowledgement

This page has been adapted from the "Understand Peer Review" guide created by the library staff of Red Deer College (RDC) in Alberta, Canada.

We appreciate receiving permission from the RDC librarians to use and adapt their guide.