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Library FAQs (prior to COVID19)

Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Library and its resources. #LibraryFAQ

What does "peer-reviewed" mean? Is a peer-reviewed article the same as a scholarly article?

“Peer review” is a process that many articles go through before being published in a scholarly journal. Once the article is written, it is sent to several experts in the same field (the article author’s peers), and those people review the article to make sure it is making an original and valuable contribution to the academic literature. Once the article has been “peer-reviewed,” it can be published in a scholarly journal.

In terms of your research, “peer-reviewed” articles are articles that have passed a basic quality threshold. This means that you can generally trust peer-reviewed articles to be truthful and not have a specific commercial agenda (unlike articles on the web or in a popular magazine). Don’t let your guard down too much, though! Just because an article has passed the peer-review process does not mean everybody in the academic community thinks that it is good research. Many scholars may disagree with the viewpoints expressed in the article, the assumptions it makes, or the conclusions reached by the authors — so you should still always read carefully and think critically!

For the most part, peer-reviewed articles are the same as “scholarly” articles. Note, however, that not all articles that appear in scholarly journals are necessarily peer-reviewed. Letters, book reviews, editorials etc. may appear in these journals without having gone through a peer-review process.

Tags: research, articles, peer-reviewed, scholarly

How can I make sure I'm finding peer-reviewed/scholarly articles?

Peer-reviewed articles are often the best sources of information for research (although there are exceptions), and your professor will probably ask you to use at least some peer-reviewed articles when writing your paper. The best way to ensure you are finding peer-reviewed articles is to search for articles using one of the library’s academic journal databases, found under the “Articles” link on the library’s homepage. The top two databases in this list (ProQuest Research Library and Gale Academic Onefile) contain the most peer-reviewed articles. Once you’re inside the database, look for a check box on the main search page that says “Peer Reviewed” or “Scholarly” and click it. This will ensure that all the results you get are peer-reviewed articles. A screenshot of the peer-review checkbox in ProQuest Research Library is shown below.

One small thing to watch out for: when you search a database like Research Library and you click the "peer-reviewed" option, you are finding content from journals that the database has designated as peer-reviewed, but they apply this designation at the journal level, not at the article level. As a result, non-peer-reviewed items may still turn up, if they are present in a journal which is mostly peer-reviewed (see the FAQ question “What does peer-reviewed mean?” for more information about non-peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals).

Screen shot of Research Library

Screenshot of Academic OneFile

Tags: research, articles, peer-reviewed, scholarly, search strategies, databases, online resources