Want a summary of what peer-reviewed is? Watch this 3:16 video from North Carolina State University.
Understanding the Peer-Reviewed Process
Peer-review refers to a publishing process where authors who are doing research submit a paper they have written to a journal. The journal editor then sends the article to the other scholars who are knowledgeable of the research field. Those reviewers determine if that article should be published based on the quality of the research, the validity of the data, the conclusions the authors' draw, and the originality of the research. Typically the names of the author(s) and reviewers are kept private. This is called a "blind review." This process is important because it validates the research and gives it a sort of "seal of approval" from those who are knowledgeable within that field.
Example: Let's say that an researcher in the field of chemistry submits a research article to a chemistry journal. That research will be reviewed by chemists who know the subject matter and are representing the journal. Those reviewers won't know who submitted the article and the author won't know who is reviewing it. Those reviewers evaluate the article based on the scholarliness, methodology, originality, and contribution to the field
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to peer-reviewed research:
1. Peer-review can go by several different names. For example, a journal may called peer-reviewed, a refereed journal, a juried journal, or a scholarly journal.
2. Typically, peer-reviewed research will come from peer-reviewed journals. Occasionally, you will find an article that isn't peer-reviewed within a peer-reviewed journal. Typically, these will be editorials or reviews. If you ever have any questions regarding if an article is peer-reviewed ask your instructor or librarian. For more about determining if a journal is peer-reviewed, read below.
3. Peer-reviewed articles will have a few common similarities. For example, there should be an affiliation listed for each author (for example, if the author is from WSU). Furthermore, peer-reviewed articles will have a Reference section which lists all of the articles they cite for their study. Peer-reviewed articles will typically also have some of methodology section which explains how the author conducted their research (for example, did they use a survey? Was there a test group? etc.).
There are lots of different ways to locate the peer-reviewed research. Here's one method using the WSU Library Catalog:
Step 1: Go to libraries.wsu.edu
Step 2. Select "Advanced Search"
Step 3: In the "Material Type" drop-down menu, select "Articles." This will display articles that come from only peer-reviewed journals.
Note: You can also limit your results to peer-reviewed journals in virtually any other scholarly database that you use.
Methods for Determining if a Journal Is Peer-Reviewed:
Note: Determining if an article is peer-reviewed can occasionally be confusing. Not everything within a peer-reviewed journal is necessarily peer-reviewed. For example, peer-reviewed journals might have book reviews or editorials. When in doubt, ask your instructor or a librarian.
Check the Publisher's Website
Typically the journal website will have information regarding whether it is a peer reviewed publication. That info is generally found in an "About" section.
Search the Ulrich's Directory
Ulrich's Directory is a directory of journals which provides information regarding if a journal is peer-reviewed, open access, its place of publication, etc.
Peer-Reviewed journals in Ulrich's will have a referee icon next to the title if the journal is peer-reviewed, like in the picture below:
This video was created by the Walden Libraries and explains how to search Ulrich's to see if a journal is peer-reviewed.