What is Peer Review?
Peer review is a process where one or more experts (often three), in the same or similar fields, will read an article or paper and examine whether the research methods are valid and whether the conclusions make sense. They might also look at the importance and utility of the research, as well as the quality of the authors’ writing. If the article or paper is not good enough, it will not pass the peer-review process, and it will go unpublished.
However, just because an article is peer-reviewed does not mean it is perfectly accurate and reliable. See retractionwatch.com for examples of articles where peer-reviewers missed or were unaware of problems with a publication they reviewed.
How can find out if an article is peer reviewed?
1) Go to the journals' website. If the journal is peer reviewed you can often find this information in the sections on author guidance or the about page.
2) Check Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory (i.e. Ulrich's). Search for a journal (not the article title), if it has a referree-shirt icon next to the journal, that means the journal is refereed (another term for peer review).
Note: Even though a particular journal is peer-reviewed, some articles, such as news items, editorials, letters to the editor, and book reviews, may not have gone through the peer-review process.
Elements of a peer reviewed article
- a title that provides a mini-synopsis of the research project
- an abstract --usually a paragraph long -- which provides a summary of the research project and findings
- an introduction that provides the scope and objectives of the research project
- a section explaining materials and/or methods used
- the results that were found -- often in the form of data, tables, graphs, etc.
- A discussion and/or conclusion describing the significance and relevance of the findings
- A list of cited references to other publications that the authors consulted in designing and developing their research project