Skip to Main Content

Peer Reviewed Articles: What Are They?

Peer Reviewed?

How do you determine whether an article qualifies as being a peer-reviewed journal article?

First, you need to be able to identify which journals are peer-reviewed. There are generally four methods for doing this

  • Limiting a database search to peer-reviewed journals only. You can do this in the Article Quick Search tab in the Library's home page. 
  • Some databases allow you to limit searches for articles to peer reviewed journals only. 
  • If you cannot limit your initial search to peer-reviewed journals, you will need to check if the individual journal where the article was published is a peer-reviewed journal. You may want to utilize Method 3 below. 
  • Examining the publication to see if it is peer-reviewed.

If  the first two methods described above did not identify the journal,(and the article), as peer-reviewed, you may then need to examine the journal physically or look at additional pages of the journal online to determine if it is peer-reviewed. This method is not always successful with resources available only online. Try the following steps:

  • Locate the journal in the Library or online, then identify the most current entire year’s issues.
  • Locate the masthead of the publication. This usually consists of a box towards either the front or the end of the periodical, and contains publication information such as the editors of the journal, the publisher, the place of publication, the subscription cost and similar information. It is way easier to find in a print copy of the journal
  • Does the journal say that it is peer-reviewed? If so, you’re done. If not, search farther within the journal's website.
  • Check in and around the masthead to locate the method for submitting articles to the publication.  If you find information similar to “to submit articles, send three copies…”, the journal is probably peer-reviewed. In this case, you are inferring that the publication is then going to send the multiple copies of the article to the journal’s reviewers. This may not always be the case, so relying upon this information alone may not be foolproof.
  • If you do not see this type of statement in the first issue of the journal that you look at, examine the remaining issues to see if this information is included. Sometimes publications will include this information in only a single issue a year.
  • Is it scholarly, using technical terminology? Is the article format similar to the following - abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, and references? Are the articles written by scholarly researchers in the field? Is advertising non-existent, or kept to a minimum? Are there references listed in footnotes or bibliographies? If you answered yes to all these questions, the journal may very well be peer-reviewed. This determination would be strengthened by having met the previous criterion of a multiple-copies submission requirement. If you answered these questions no, the journal is probably not peer-reviewed.
  • Find the journal web site on the internet, (not via library databases), and see if it states that the journal is peer-reviewed. Check the site URL to be sure it is the homepage of the journal or of the publisher of the journal.

Adapted from "How to Recognize Peer Reviewed Journals", Angelo State University