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.
Most library databases indicate if an article is published in a peer reviewed
journal with an icon such as this one from Ebsco databases:
Or, they will tag the article as peer-reviewed within the record of the article:
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:
You can also find the official website of the journal and check to see if it states that the journal is peer-reviewed. For example, the home page of the journal website for OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health states that the journal is peer-reviewed. You can also learn more about the journal by reviewing the Journal Info, including its editorial board, aims and scopes, and information for authors.
Limit results to peer reviewed by checking the box next to 'Peer Reviewed' in the Search Options:
Or, you can run a search and then check the box next to 'Academic Journals' on the left side of the page: