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Evidence-Based Health Care

Find answers to the question "What works?" in medical and health care.

What is Peer Review?

Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of peer review

So your professor asked you to limit your research to peer reviewed articles. What does this mean?

Generally speaking, the question of peer review most commonly arises when talking about the journal literature. Peer review is the process by which research is assessed for quality, relevancy, and accuracy.  In a peer reviewed, or refereed journal, each manuscript submitted to the publisher is first reviewed anonymously by a group of experts - peers in the same field of study. These reviewers assess the quality of the research, the accuracy of the findings, and the relevancy of the research to the journal or profession.

Peer review is like quality control.  You should be able to trust the scholarship of the research. 

All of the journal citation databases provided by the library include peer review journals. Not sure which journal database to use for your research? Need help limiting your search results to scholarly/peer reviewed materials? We're here to help. Call or email the library for more information.

Peer Review (in Three Minutes)

Citation: A (Very) Brief Introduction

Peer Review - PubMed and Medline

Good news! Most of the journals in Medline/PubMed are peer reviewed.  Generally speaking, if you find a journal citation in Medline/PubMed you should be just fine. However, there is no way to limit your results within the PubMed or the Medline on EBSCO interface to knock out the few publications that are not considered refereed titles.

However, EBSCO (a third-party vendor) does provide a list of all titles within Medline and lets you see which titles are considered peer reviewed. You can check if your journal is OK - see the "peer Review" tab in the report below to see the very small list of titles that don't make the cut.

Peer Review - CINAHL & PsycInfo

Both The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL)  PsycInfo databases feature a Peer Reviewed subset.  You can limit your search from the main search screen by checking the "Peer Review" box.

screenshot of EBSCO Host search page

screenshot of EBSCO Host search options with Peer Reviewed box checked



If you forget to limit your search up front, you can limit your search to peer review after the fact.  From the Search History/Alerts menu beneath the main search box, click on "edit."  A pop up window will display where you can check "peer review."

screenshot of EBSCO Host search history menu

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