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Evaluating Sources: Peer-Reviewed / Refereed

A guide to evaluating information and resources found online and in print.

Verifying if a Journal is Peer-Reviewed

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

Peer Review in 3 Minutes from libncsu.  Creative Commons License 

Peer-Reviewed / Refereed

What does peer-reviewed / refereed mean?

Peer-reviewed material are publications reviewed by "expert readers" or referees prior to the publication of the material. After reading and evaluating the material, the referee informs the publisher if the document should be published or if any changes should be made prior to publication. Peer-reviewed materials are also referred to as refereed. Peer-reviewed materials are significant to most academic fields because they assure readers that the information is reliable and timely.

Note: Beware the "scholarly" label, a source can be "scholarly," but not necessarily peer-reviewed. Everything that is peer-reviewed is scholarly, but not everything that is scholarly is peer-reviewed. Look for "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" to be sure.

What is in a peer-reviewed article?

These are generally the basic parts of a peer-reviewed/scholarly article:

  • Abstract: Summary of the article, found at the beginning.
  • Literature Review: Discusses related articles on the topic.
  • Methods / Methodology: Description of how the research was conducted.
  • Results or Data: Numbers, statistics, charts and graphs, etc. that describe observations made during the research.
  • Discussion or Conclusion: Author explains what he or she thinks the research tells us.

Sometimes peer-reviewed material is jargon heavy. Not sure of word meanings? Consult a dictionary or your professor.

Where do I find peer-reviewed material?

Many article databases allow you to limit to peer-reviewed material. Look for this limiter in the Advanced Search page. Use this option to eliminate guesswork and rest assured that your results are all from peer-reviewed sources.