Finding peer-reviewed journal articles

A peer-reviewed journal is one in which the articles have been examined, prior to publication, by experts in the article's field of study before it is published. Peer-reviewed publications (often titled journal, review or research) are produced specifically for academics, scholars and professionals, unlike popular magazines found in newsagents and supermarkets.

The differences are:

ElementPeer-reviewedPopular
EditorialFeatures a listing of an editorial boardNo editorial board listing
AppearanceText with charts and illustrationsGlossy with many advertisements
AuthorAlways identified and qualifications citedOften not identified, e.g. staff or freelance reporter
ContentOften original findings or theory on specific research; source references always citedUsually informal in nature, without specifying sources
PurposeTo enhance the field of researchTo entertain, inform, express a view, to sell a product
TerminologySpecialised, assuming prior knowledgeSimple, assuming no prior knowledge

How do I know if a journal article is peer-reviewed?

When searching some databases and QuickSearch, you can specify that the results only include 'peer-reviewed' journals.

Scholarly or peer-reviewed articles usually contain section headings like these:

  • Abstract and keywords - the abstract and keywords may be added by an editor or publisher.
  • Introduction and statement of the problem - identifies the need for the work, and the research question.
  • Review of the literature - the literature review should identify the major works of other researchers and identify theories and lines of thought.
  • Methodology - explains the methods so others can replicate the study.
  • Data collection - the data collection and analysis discuss the particular work being reported.
  • Analysis - examines the data by qualitative or quantitative means, states whether the research question or hypothesis was proven or disproved.
  • Conclusions and recommendations - the final section provides a theory about the results, identifies any obvious flaws in the work, and provides suggestions for follow-up research.
  • References - includes a comprehensive list of references.

Use Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory to check whether a journal is peer-reviewed.