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Com 101 Library Information and Tutorials

Peer-Reviewed or Not?

How can I tell if an article is peer-reviewed?

  1. Some online databases, like Academic Search Complete, allow you to limit your search results to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals. Other databases, like JSTOR, only cover scholarly journals. You still need to be careful, though, as many peer-reviewed journals also publish book reviews or guest columns that are not peer-reviewed. When in doubt, look for the following:
    • A substantial (long) article (at least 10 pages long, but usually more like 20-40 pages)
    • A long works cited list that includes citations for other peer-reviewed articles and books
    • Specialized vocabulary
    • If there are illustrations, they should be there to clarify the research and not to entertain. So charts, graphs, occasional photos (usually black and white) may appear in scholarly articles, but large color photos usually won't.
  2. Look up the journal title (not the article title) online. Very often you will be able to find a section that says "Instructions for authors." This section usual indicates whether articles are reviewed.
  3. Consult Ulrich’s International online.
    • Type in the title of the journal (not the article title)
    • Click on the title that matches the one you're interested in
    • Look for the striped shirt "referee" symbol (this tells you the journal uses peer-review)
    • Look for the field that says "Content Type"  - if the journal is scholarly, this field will say Academic / Scholarly

Now that I've Found a Peer-Reviewed Research Article, What do I do?

Published scientific research often uses very specialized language and is written for an audience of researchers. So, how do you tell if the research you found will be useful?

Basic tips:

  1. Look at the Abstract, the Conclusion, and the Introduction of the article. If it looks promising, move on to step 2.
  2. Find the claim or claims the article is making.
  3. Identify the major evidence used to support these claims.
  4. Look to see what the article says about the research's relationship to previous research.

Citation Help and Links

Most citation styles offer guidelines for citing a huge variety of sources. Here are some links to resources to help you figure out how to create your works cited lists.

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