- What is peer review?
If you’ve been given the instructions for a research project, you may have heard the term “peer review.” Some professors specifically require that their students use only “peer-reviewed” articles in their assignments. Others may ask you to use “refereed” or “scholarly” articles – in this case, they’re also asking for articles that have gone through the peer-review process, even if they’re not using the term outright.
So, what does peer review mean?
In the simplest terms possible, peer review is a process that a resource undergoes before it is published.
Here is a scenario to help explain the process: let’s pretend I’m a researcher and I’ve written an article. When I submit this article to a journal for publication, it is reviewed anonymously by different experts in my field. To ensure that the system is as fair and unbiased as possible, the system is “double blind” – this means that I don’t know who the reviewers are, and they don’t know my name. I then receive my article back from the reviewers, make any corrections or changes they suggest, and re-submit it to the journal for publication.
Peer reviewed journals, then, are often considered more credible than open-access or non-peer reviewed journals, since experts have reviewed the content/methodology/conclusions, etc., and still said it should be published.
2. How do you know if a journal is peer-reviewed?
A great resource called Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory helps you answer this question. I’ll give you step-by-step instructions for accessing this resource:
- Go to www.lib.uwo.ca and click the “Databases” link
- Choose “U” and then click on the “Ulrich’s Periodical Directory” entry (Off campus users must log in)
- In the search box, enter the name of the journal you are searching for
- Next to the name of your journal, you will see little symbols
- Look for a referee jersey icon: if one exists, that journal is peer reviewed
- If you see no icons at all, you may need to turn this function on: click the “Change Columns” link and make sure the referee jersey is selected