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Article Search Tips: Refereed or Peer Reviewed or Scholarly

This guide provides tips that can be used when searching for articles in databases; including how to locate the full text of articles.

What does it mean?

Refereed or Peer Reviewed or Scholarly

  • Not all scholarly articles are peer reviewed, although many people use these terms interchangeably. Sometimes they are reviewed only by an editor/editorial board.
  • Peer-reviewed and refereed are synonyms.
  • In  a peer-review process, articles go through a second review in addition to the editor and are examined by experts in the field to determine their merit.
  • Peer reviewed journals are usually scholarly in nature, but may occasionally be trade journals and reviewed by people who work in a particular field – chemical industry, automotive industry, etc.
  • Peer-reviewed articles will usually have an abstract and a list of references/bibliography.
  •  Not all items in a peer reviewed journal are peer reviewed. Editorials, news items, book reviews, and letters to the editor, for example, do not tend to go through the same review process as the articles.

How do I know if it is?

There are several ways to find out

  • In general, newspapers and popular magazines, such as The New York Times or Business Week, etc. won't be peer reviewed. Neither will primary source materials for historical research (diaries, oral histories, interviews, etc.)
  • Some databases allow you to limit to titles that are scholarly, refereed or peer reviewed (limiters are typically on the left side of the results screen.)
  • Some databases will tell you on the main page of the citation information if articles go through a peer-review process.
  • Check the website for the journal; usually the About section or the Publishing Guidelines will indicate if there is a peer review policy.
  • Check the Ulrich's Periodical Directory (linked below) and it will indicate if it is. Search by the journal title or issn.

A Selection of Databases with Limiters

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