Peer-Reviewed or Is it?

Peer-reviewed articles are required in academic writing and other venues. So, what exactly does it mean to be peer-reviewed? If the article has a doi, is it peer-reviewed? If I find it on Google Scholar, is it peer-reviewed? If I find it in a journal, is it peer-reviewed? If I check “peer-reviewed” in my library database, is it peer-reviewed? The answer to most of these questions is, maybe. According to Merriam-Webster (n.d.), peer review as a noun is “a process by which something proposed (as for research or publication) is evaluated by a group of experts in the appropriate field.”

Therefore, how do you know the article you pulled up is peer-reviewed? You kind of don’t know that the article was peer-reviewed. However, you can find out if the publication that contained the article goes through a peer-reviewed process. Use Ulrich’s database to see if the publication is peer-reviewed or refereed. Ulrich’s team evaluates the publications and the process used for peer reviewing the content. Once it is confirmed, you will find a referee icon next to the publication name in the Ulrich database. If you go to the publication’s website and you find it is peer-reviewed and then you go to Ulrich’s database and the referee icon does not show up, check with your institution’s library or research department for acceptable use. Sometimes the publication is in the review stages at Ulrich, and thus has not hit the database yet. You might still be able to use the article under your institution’s academic/scholarly qualification rather than peer-reviewed.

Why do we care if something is peer-reviewed? It adds credibility to the content. Anyone can write anything, sort of like a blog. However, when the writing goes through a process of being reviewed by experts or other scrutinizing eyes, it lends credibility that what was written followed acceptable standards. It would not be helpful to pull up articles on quantitative research that used qualitative language and methods. Peer-reviewed does not guarantee that the research results were correct, only that the write-up met specific qualifications and standards.

Reference - Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Peer review. In dictionary. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from

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