PSY 309-A Research Methods: Peer Review Sources

On this page, you will find information about:


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  • What are scholarly and peer reviewed articles?
    • 3 minute video overview of peer review
  • Checklist for identifying if an article is peer-reviewed
  • How to search Ulrich's Web to see if a journal is peer-reviewed

What are scholarly and peer-reviewed articles?


Scholarly journals are journals which are well respected for the information and research they provide on a particular subject.

  • They are written by subject matter experts in a particular field or discipline and their purpose is to advance the ongoing body of work within their discipline.
  • These articles might present original research data and findings, or take a position on a key question within the field.
  • They can be difficult to read, because their intended audience is other experts and academics, but they are the capstone when it comes to authoritative information.

Scholarly journals are oftentimes peer reviewed or refereed. A peer-reviewed or refereed article has gone through a rigorous process where other scholars in the author’s field or discipline critically assess a draft of the article. The actual evaluations are similar to editing notes, where the author receives detailed and constructive feedback from the peer experts. 

Not all scholarly journals go through the peer-review process, so not all scholarly journals are peer-reviewed. However, it is safe to assume that a peer-reviewed journal is also scholarly. In short, “scholarly” means the article was written by an expert for an audience of other experts, researchers or students. “Peer-reviewed” takes it one step further and means the article was reviewed and critiqued by the author’s peers who are experts in the same subject area. The vast majority of scholarly articles are peer reviewed.

Below is a visualization of the peer review process for one publisher, Wiley. Depending on who the publisher is and what their criteria for peer-review is, there may be more or less steps than the image below shows.

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Checklist for identifying an article as peer-reviewed

When you are determining whether or not the article you found is a peer-reviewed article, you should look for articles that possess the following characteristics:

  • The article's journal is published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society, professional association, or university academic department; article is described as a peer-reviewed publication. (Check the journal's website for this information)
  • Article citation was retrieved from a databases that includes peer-reviewed literature. (Read the database description to see if it includes this).
  • In searching a database, you limited your results to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles.
  • Beginning of article has an abstract (summary of what the article will discuss/present)?
  • End of article provides a bibliography or list of references.
  • Footnotes or citations of other sources are provided throughout.
  • Article topic is explored in depth and is narrow in focus.
  • Author is a subject matter expert on the topic/field (see if author's credentials or short bio are listed to provide this information).
  • Article is based on either original research or findings from authorities in the field (as opposed to personal opinion/viewpoint).
  • Research methodology is discussed.

noun_tutorial_2366975.pngWatch this 3 minute video overview by North Carolina State University explaining peer review and scholarly literature (or view video directly below).

Search Ulrich's Web to see if a journal is peer reviewed


You can also check the journal title in our database, Ulrich’s Web, to determine if the journal is indicated as being peer-reviewed or referred.

To get to Ulrich’s Web:

1. Go to the Library’s website.

2. Click on the “Articles and Databases” link under the “Saints Search” bar.

3. Click on “U” to jump to our list of databases that start with U. 

4. Click on Ulrich’s Web

5. Once in Ulrich’s Web, type in the exact title of the journal including any initial A, AN, or THE in the title. Search for your journal title in your results lists and when you find it, check to see if the journal is indicated as being refereed (meaning peer-reviewed) by having the symbol next to the title in your lists of results. [Screenshot of a results lists showing the symbol to indicate the result is peer-reviewed.]

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6. To double-check if the journal is peer-reviewed:

a. Click into the specific journal from your results.

b. Click on the green header for “Additional Title Details” which will open up the “Key Features” of the journal, listing if it is Refereed / Peer-reviewed. [Screenshot below of an example journal.]

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Page Credits

John Wiley & Sons, Inc., "Peer Review Process." What is peer review. https://authorservices.wiley.com/Reviewers/journal-reviewers/what-is-peer-review/the-peer-review-process.html

NC State University Libraries. "Peer review in 3 minutes." YouTube, 1 Mar. 2014, https://youtu.be/rOCQZ7QnoN0

Pilgrim Library. "Features of Peer-Reviewed Articles." Finding Information. Defiance College, 17 Apr. 2019, https://library.defiance.edu/InfoLit-sourcesofinfo/peerreview