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Peer Review Process

Learn about scholarly journals and the peer review process

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Cynthia Hunt
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How to find A Peer Reviewed Article?

What does it mean to be peer reviewed?

Articles that appear in peer reviewed journals have been examined by professionals in the field before publication. For example, an article published in the Journal of Marriage and Family are reviewed by sociologists who focus on family research. They make sure that the methodology is sound and the results are significant before the article is actually published. In a scientific article the experts will review the experiment to see if the methods, analysis and conclusions make sense. Experts will also make recommendations on the wording the authors used. 

What do peer reviewed articles look like?

Peer reviewed journal articles tend to be rather long, often over twenty pages. They also use quite a bit of jargon, or language associated with a professional field. Many peer reviewed articles are empirical, meaning that they discuss original research. Articles that discuss original research have the following format:

  • Title
  • Abstract
    • The abstract provides a summary of the article.
  • Introduction / Literature Review
    • This section discusses the previous, relevant research in this particular area of study.  It places the current study in context.
  • Methodology
    • The methodology section explains the methods used in the current experiment so that others can replicate it. 
  • Results
    • The results section is fairly self-explanatory - it lists the results of the authors' study.  This section often contains tables and charts.
  • Discussion
    • The discussion section is where the authors get to put their results in context.  Generally, in the discussion section, they discuss why their research is significant. 
  • References
    • All peer reviewed journal articles have a list of references at the end.  These are the studies to which the authors referred in the literature review.

Where are peer reviewed articles found?

The easiest way to locate peer reviewed articles is by searching article databases. In most databases, there is an option to limit to peer reviewed articles only in the result list. PubMed does not have this option, however, so use the steps above to analyze your articles. Most journals in PubMed are peer reviewed journals; be careful though, not everything within them are peer reviewed!