How to Know When an Article Is Peer-Reviewed

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Peer review is a process used to evaluate articles submitted to prestigious academic journals. A peer-reviewed article is read by experts in the field, who inform the editors of the journal whether or not the article is accurate, original and significant and help decide if it is worth printing. Peer reviewing increases the legitimacy of both the article and the journal, so publishers do not make it difficult to find out if an article has been peer-reviewed.

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Check the name of the journal against a list of peer-reviewed journals such as the one linked to in Resources. There isn't a comprehensive list including every peer-reviewed journal, so a journal's absence from this list does not mean it is not peer-reviewed.

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If you have access to an academic search database such as Ulrich's Periodical Directory, look up the article in it. It will tell you whether the article is peer-reviewed.

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If you have a copy of the journal the article appeared in, look at the inside front cover. There should be a small blurb with information about the journal. If it is peer-reviewed, usually that information will be included. If you don't find your answer there, check the outside front cover and the table of contents. The information is almost always in the front of the journal.

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Look at the entire article. Peer-review information can be in many places—under the author's name, near the title, before the references or even after the references. Read the whole article and skim the reference section. If you don't find the info, the article is probably not peer-reviewed.

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If the article is in an online journal, click on the "About Us" section on the journal page. It should tell you if the journal is peer-reviewed.

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Contact the editor of the journal. Usually, the editor will be willing to explain whether a particular article is peer-reviewed, and what the magazine's reviewing process is.

  • Editorials, letters to the editor, news blurbs and certain other articles in peer-reviewed publications are not peer-reviewed.

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.