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Conducting a Literature Review

A collection of strategies and resources for conducting a literature review

What is Peer Review?

If an article is peer reviewed, it was reviewed by scholars who are experts in related academic or professional fields before it was published. Those scholars assessed the quality of the article's research, as well as its overall contribution to the literature in their field. 

When we talk about peer-reviewed journals, we're referring to journals that use a peer-review process.

Related terms you might hear include: 

  • Academic: Intended for academic use, or an academic audience. 
  • Scholarly: Intended for scholarly use, or a scholarly audience. 
  • Refereed: Refers to a specific kind of peer-review process. 

National University Library System. (2018). "Find Articles: How to Find Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Articles". Retrieved from:

How Do I Know If a Journal is Peer-Reviewed?

The easiest way to find out if a journal is peer-reviewed is to search for the title in a serials directory like UlrichsWeb:

  • Type the name of the journal in the search bar and click the search button. NOTE: you need to use the full name of the journal, not an abbreviation.

UlrichsWeb search bar with "Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research"

  • Locate the journal in the results list. You may see multiple entries for one journal because Ulrichs lists print, electronic, and international version separately.
  • Look for a black-and-white referee logo (UlrichsWeb results for Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research) next to the title - this means the journal is peer-reviewed.

UlrichsWeb results showing refereed journal symbol

How Do I Know If an Article is Peer-Reviewed?

Even if an article was published in a peer-reviewed journal, it may not necessarily be peer-reviewed itself; for example, a commentary article may undergo editorial review instead, meaning it was only reviewed by the journal editor.

There are some clues you can look for to help you identify if an article is peer-reviewed:

  • Does the abstract discuss the author's/authors' research process?
  • Does the abstract include a variation of the phrase "This study..."?
  • Is there a Methodology or Data header in the text of the article?
  • Does the paper discuss related research in a literature review?
  • Is there an analysis of a need for further research, or gaps in the literature?
  • Are the references for scholarly articles and books?

If an article published in a verified peer-reviewed journal includes these elements, it is most likely a peer-reviewed article.


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 Options page with Peer Reviewed box checked

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