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Research 101

Overview of peer-reviewed journals

Peer-reviewed journals (sometimes called scholarly, academic, or refereed) have gone through a review process by experts in the field before being published. To learn more, check out the videos below.

Know the name of the peer-reviewed journal you're looking for? Use our Journal Search to find it!

Peer-reviewed articles are highly specialized reports, usually about original research, written by experts for an audience of experts.

If you already have a lot of knowledge about your research topic, a peer-reviewed article can help you understand the nuances and details of debated ideas, theories, methods, and discoveries within a specialized field.

If you are new to your subject, you will need to first build your background knowledge in order to read a peer-reviewed journal well enough to understand it thoroughly.

To understand how to develop your background knowledge, visit Getting Started with Research and Sources for Research. If you're not sure about where to start, you can always talk to a librarian for more assistance.


How do I know if an article is peer-reviewed?

The best way to limit searches to peer-reviewed articles are through the filters shown in the boxes below. But some common characteristics of peer-reviewed articles include:

  • Abstract
    • Most but not all peer-reviewed articles will have a short summary called an abstract at the top. 
  • Length and detail
    • Peer-reviewed articles tend to be long and in-depth. They are written by experts in a field for other experts, so they may use specialized vocabulary.
  • Citations and bibliography
    • Most peer-reviewed articles will use footnotes or endnotes that refer to a (usually long) bibliography at the end that lists sources of information referenced in the article.
  • Original research
    • Most peer-reviewed articles report on the author's own original research.
  • Information from the publisher
    • The publisher's website for the journal should also indicate whether articles go through a peer-review process. Find a page that might be called "For Authors" to locate this information.

Note! Some things you find within peer-reviewed journals are not peer-reviewed articles. Examples includes editorials, letters to the editor, news items, and book reviews, which do go through the same review process. 

Finding peer-reviewed articles with OneSearch

On the left-hand side of the screen select "Peer-Reviewed Journals" beneath "Limit To."

OneSearch Screenshot
Image 01: Screenshot of OneSearch with "Limit To" encircled and "Peer-Reviewed Journals" selected.

Finding peer-reviewed articles in a specific database

Use our A-Z database list to find databases by name or subject. In each database you can limit your search results to "Academic Journals" or "Peer Reviewed" articles. 

filters from Academic Search complete


Learning about Peer-Review | Video 01

NCSU Libraries: Peer Review in 3 Minutes

Learning about Peer-Review | Video 02

TED-Ed: Not all scientific studies are created equal - David H. Schwartz

Learning about Peer-Review | Video 03

Yavapai College Library: Searching Databases