March 24th, 2009

What Isn’t Peer Reviewed?

When looking exclusively for peer-reviewed journal articles, most people let the databases do the heavy lifting. In most of the library’s databases you can check a little box, and you’ll only get back the scholarly material you want, right?

Peer review check box in Ebsco databases

Peer review check box in ProQuest databases

Not quite. Peer review is an editorial decision at the journal, which means that all FULL ARTICLES are subjected to the peer-review process.

But not everything in a journal is a scholarly article.

Most journals include other content, such as letters to the editor, book reviews, summaries of recent conferences, etc. These items are NOT peer reviewed.

Even if you know you’re looking at items from a peer-reviewed journal, it’s a good idea to evaluate them according to the same scholarly article criteria you’d use if you didn’t know the journal’s editorial policies. Peer-reviewed articles will match most of the following:

  • Always includes references
  • Uses jargon of the discipline
  • Reports on a research study with methodology and data analysis
  • Gives authors’ titles and affiliation
  • Long, descriptive title
  • More than 5 pages long

For more information, see our guide How Do I find Peer-reviewed Articles?

– Erin

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