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Education: Is it peer reviewed?

Resources to support the students in the College of Education

What is peer review?

What is peer review? 

Your professors may require you to use articles from "peer-reviewed" journals. These are also sometimes referred to as "refereed" or "scholarly" journals. Peer review is the process by which research is assessed for quality, relevancy, and accuracy. In a peer-reviewed journal, an editor may first recommend revisions to the author. If the manuscript passes this first step, the editor will then send it to be reviewed anonymously by other experts in the field who will assess the quality of the research, the accuracy of the findings, and the relevancy of the research to the journal or profession. After the review, the editor may accept the manuscript, but quite often manuscripts are rejected. It can be difficult to publish in peer reviewed journals. 

Why is peer review important? 

Peer review is like quality control. You should be able to trust the scholarship of the research. This is especially important in the health sciences when the results of research have implications for health and well being. 


Not all articles published in peer reviewed journals are peer reviewed. Certain items such as news, letters, brief reports, or editorial comments do not go through the peer review process. 

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

How to recognize peer reviewed articles

Most library databases indicate if an article is published in a peer reviewed journal with an icon such as this one from Education Source: 

Acdemic Journal icon from EBSCO resources


Not sure if it's peer-reviewed? 

If you can't tell from the database if the article is peer-reviewed, or if you find an article on the Web, look for the following indicators that will likely mean the article is from a peer-reviewed journal:

  • The article format approximates the following: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, references
  • The author(s) is a scholarly researcher in a pertinent field of study, with credentials and most likely affiliated with a university or reputable organization
  • Little, to no advertising
  • References are included in footnotes or a bibliography

You can use the Peer Review limit located on the right hand side of the screen to limit your search only to peer-reviewed journals.  This doesn't guarantee that all of the results in your search will be peer-reviewed, but it does help!  (Peer-reviewed journals can still have editorials and other content that might not go through the peer-review process.)

Screenshot of the result screen in Education Sourc with the "Peer Reviewed" limit highlighted.

If you're still having trouble determining if your article is peer-reviewed, you can check the information about the journal itself.  In Education Source, you can do this by clicking on the title of the journal.

Screenshot of the article information screen in Education Source

Then, scroll through the information on that screen to see if it tells you whether or not the journal is peer reviewed.