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A journal that is peer reviewed or refereed utilizes scholars, researchers, or practitioners in the field to evaluate the strength of scholarship and overall quality of articles submitted for publication. Because of their expertise, peer reviewers can also comment on the relevance of the article to their field of study and the appropriateness of the article for the journal. As a result, articles in peer reviewed journals are often thought to be more authoritative than articles from non-refereed journals.
In contrast, magazines or journals that do not have a peer review process in place typically rely on an editor or editorial team to make decisions about whether an article will be published and, if so, what changes will be required.
It is also important to keep in mind that even in peer reviewed journals there may be content, such as news items, letters, and brief reports, that does not go through the peer review process.
Identifying Peer Reviewed Journals
Information about a journal's peer review process may be easy to locate by browsing the journal's website or consulting the Instructions to Authors.
The Bird Library also provides access to Ulrichsweb, a global directory of all kinds of serial publications including scholarly journals, e-journals, magazines, and newspapers.
To find out if a journal is peer reviewed according to Ulrichsweb, search for the journal title and look for the referee jersey icon .
Databases such as CINAHL, PsycINFO, Academic Search Premier, and SPORTDiscus have limits to peer reviewed sources. After you run your search in these databases find the limits page and apply the peer review limit so that you will only see content published in peer reviewed sources when you begin browsing your retrieval.
Remember that not all databases provide the option to limit retrieval to peer reviewed sources. For example, in MEDLINE and Embase you must determine if the journal where your article is published is peer reviewed by using one of the methods described elsewhere in this guide.