Peer review is an evaluation of an academic work done by other professionals in the same field. It is a form of quality control. Scholars rely on peer review to ensure published information is factual and accurate. So, what does this look like?
If a researcher wishes to share their findings with the academic community, they submit a draft of an article to a journal.
The editors of that journal then evaluate the article. If the article passes this assessment, it then goes to peer review.
A group of experts – also known as the author's peers because they are in the same field – is selected to evaluate the article. The reviewers read the article and judge its quality and significance. This is often done blind. When a peer review is blind, information about the author is hidden from reviewers so that personal biases can be removed from the process. Reviewers each pass their own decision to the journal editor. Reviewers can suggest an article be: approved, rejected, or approved with revisions.
From this stage, the journal editors make final decisions based on the peer reviewer's analysis. Even if an article is approved, it may not make it to publication. Many articles are rejected, and most articles require revisions. Once an author has revised the work, the process begins again.
Peer review is a system within the academic community that is widely accepted, and many scholars consider an article trustworthy once it has been peer-reviewed. When crafting a bibliography of scholarly information, it is often expected that most sources be peer-reviewed, and some professors require this for all sources. It is helpful in the longterm to learn how to recognize an article as peer-reviewed.
How can I know for sure if an article is peer-reviewed?
If you are still not sure, reach out to your library contact for assistance!
The Scholarly Information page of this LibGuide features databases filled with peer-reviewed, academic articles. These are only a few of the multitude of resources available to you from the library.
View the Library Database Index to learn more.
Another helpful resource to look over is the Library Guides indexed by subject. Finding a guide that applies to your research interests can connect you to the best databases for your search.
The peer-review process is a long-standing system within the larger society of scholarship. It is vital that we, as present and future scholars, consistently evaluate the systems in which we operate. Recalling your own impressions of and experiences with peer review, we encourage you to never stop questioning. Is peer review a perfect system?
We encourage you to check out Retraction Watch on social media, too. Their updates are an excellent way to challenge yourself to think critically and make judgements about the world around you. Ethical accountability is an important ongoing conversation in science. That said, we would like you to consider these questions before class: