How do I know if a source is peer reviewed?

As a GHC student, you will probably have an instructor who requires you to include peer reviewed sources in your papers. A lot of students ask us how they are supposed to know whether a source is peer reviewed. Sometimes you have to do a little digging to find out, but thankfully some of the databases the GHC Library subscribes to tell us which are peer reviewed.

For example, Proquest Research Library is a database available from our library. Proquest is a collection of articles from a whole bunch of different magazines, newspapers, and journals. The library pays for access to these articles for you, articles that would often cost between $20-30 each. If you search for your topic in Proquest you will see tabs across the top of the results list that read: All Results, Scholarly Journals, Magazines, etc. If you select the Scholarly Journals tab, Proquest will leave you a list of only peer reviewed articles.

You can also look for a check-box that will limit your search to scholarly or peer reviewed sources. ProQuest Research Library and Academic Search Premier both have boxes like that. Science Direct does not have a check-box, because EVERYTHING you find in Science Direct is peer reviewed!

Internet resources can be trickier. If you aren’t using a database with this Scholarly Journal feature or you are finding an article on the Internet, you can usually find whether an article is peer reviewed by going to the magazine or journal’s website. Once you’ve found the publisher’s website, look for a link or a tab that says “Submission Guidelines” or “Information for Authors,” essentially any link that is geared towards article writers. You’ll then need to look for information mentioning if the article is peer reviewed and by whom.

Books generally go through an editorial process before publication. Books published by university presses are almost all peer reviewed, since they are often written by faculty that are under great pressure to write high quality articles and books.

Blogs, wikis and personal websites are not considered peer reviewed sources, since people can publish whatever they want without going through an outside editorial process.

Sometimes finding out whether a source is peer reviewed can be a challenge. Use the database features mentioned above to make it easier on yourself, and if you ever have any doubts, feel free to contact a GHC Librarian and ask for help.

Originally posted by Ben Hoganson. Updated by Adrienne Roush

1 Comment

  1. Shiloh Winsor Said,

    May 26, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    This is a thorough and concise explanation. Thanks for posting this–I’ve just linked it in my online Engl 102 course.