How can I tell if an article is peer-reviewed?

Peer-reviewed articles are written by experts and then reviewed by other experts in the same field before they are published, typically ensuring that they are reliable, high-quality resources.

Ulrich's Periodical Directory can usually tell you whether the journal that published an article is a peer-reviewed journal. Search for the journal, and if a little referee's jersey appears beside the title, it is peer-reviewed, or "refereed."

Many peer-reviewed journals include opinion pieces or news that is not considered to be peer-reviewed. Key components of a scholarly, peer-reviewed (or refereed) article are:

  • An abstract
  • 'Authority' of the author(s) & the publication
  • Review of literature
  • Description of research methods (for original studies)
  • Summaries, outcomes, and conclusions
  • References

When searching in a database for peer-reviewed articles, look for an option to limit your search results to "peer-reviewed." Typically, you can find these options on Advanced Search pages and along the left side of Search Results pages.

Most scholarly publications are published by professional associations. You can learn about the editorial standards of the journal by looking at the 'About this journal' or 'Notes for Authors' page on the journal's website. Here it should tell you if the articles are peer-reviewed.