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*Community Engaged Medicine: Peer Review

Peer Review

What is Peer Review?

Peer review, also called refereeing, is a prepublication process used by most scholarly journals. Before an article is accepted for publication, the editors will send the manuscript to outside experts for review. The reviewers will then provide feedback on the quality of the research in the paper. The author can usually make revisions and resubmit the work for final acceptance.

Peer Review process flowchart

Why do I care if an article is peer-reviewed?

Peer-reviewed articles are the gold standard for academic research. For students, it means that other experts have read and approved the methods and conclusions of the work, providing extra authority to the piece.

How do I find peer-reviewed articles?

Use subject databases that specialize in the field, which are more likely to include peer-reviewed journals. Many databases also include a "peer-reviewed articles only" checkbox.

Where can I learn more?

Get a quick introduction to peer review, find advanced materials, even learn about what happens when peer review doesn't happen at  Scrutinizing Science from Understanding Science: How Science Really Works.

Verifying Peer Review

How can I be sure an article is peer-reviewed?

A quick way to tell if an article is peer-reviewed is to look for "submitted/revised/accepted" dates on the first page of the article. These tell you the dates the article went through the various steps of the peer-review process.

Peer Review Dates highlighted after abstract

You can also look up the journal in UlrichsWeb. Peer-reviewed journals have a symbol that resembles a referee's jersey on them: refereed icon   Be sure to search by the name of the journal, not the title of the article.

Finally, the most authoritative place to look is the journal's homepage. Do a Google search for the name of the journal. Look for a description of the journal that says "peer-reviewed" on its homepage. Also, look at the information for journal editors, article authors, or review policy pages. These will often detail the peer-review process for each journal, including which sections of the journal are reviewed and which are merely edited.