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Peer review in 3 minutes

You might be asked to cite scholarly or peer-reviewed articles for your papers or projects. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they amount to much the same thing. A scholarly journal is one that contains articles authored by experts and reviewed by other experts. The article will be published only if it passes this peer review process. The "peers" who evaluate articles before they are published are called referees; sometimes you will hear the phrase refereed journal rather than peer-reviewed journal -- don't worry, they mean the same thing.

Limiting to scholarly/peer-reviewed articles in databases.

Many of our databases have a limit function that narrows your search to journals that are peer reviewed.

Try a search in Quick Search and use the "Peer Reviewed Journals" limit function on the left.

What is a magazine? What is a journal?


Time Magazine cover


Journal of Information Technology cover

Examples: Time, Life, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Popular Science


Examples: Journal of Accounting and Economics, Journal of the American Medical Association, American Sociological Review, Journal of Psychology

Audience: General public to knowledgeable layperson Audience: Scholars, specialists, and students


Author(s): Professional journalists; not necessarily specialists in the field; poets and writers of fiction, essayists

Author(s): Specialists in the field; usually scholars with PhDs.

Timeliness: More current than books Timeliness: More current than books


Content: Popular topics; current affairs; general discussion; editorial opinion; graphics; photographs; advertisements; usually no bibliography or list of sources

Content: Research results, frequently theoretical in nature; detailed examination; statistical analysis; graphics; bibliography usually included
Primary Source: First hand accounts; original reporting; etc. Primary Source: Reports of original research; case studies; clinical studies; etc.
Slant: May reflect the editorial bias / slant of the magazine


Slant: Supposed to present objective/neutral viewpoint; may be difficult to comprehend because of technical language or jargon; often sponsored by professional associations


Magazines are often sold on the newsstand and in many cases may have a more graphic look with more advertising and photographs and slicker paper.


Journals are often produced by the academic community; sometimes they are a benefit of membership to a society or organization. In many cases journals may have a more scholarly appearance.