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Scientific Research and Communication — Peer Review & Academic Journals

Developing Communication Competencies for STEM Students

What is an academic journal?

"A journal is a scholarly periodical that is different than a magazine. A journal is geared toward academic pursuits and is meant to inform and educate."

What is Peer-Review

Peer Review is defined as “a process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.”

Peer review acts as a filter to ensure that only high quality research is published, especially in reputable journals, by determining the validity, significance and originality of the study.

Peer review is intended to improve the quality of manuscripts that are deemed suitable for publication. Peer reviewers provide suggestions to authors on how to improve the quality of their manuscripts, and also identify any errors that need correcting before publication.

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

How to tell if an article is peer reviewed

First make sure it IS a research article. Not every article in a journal is about research, they can include editorials, book reviews and other types of articles. 

To verify the peer reviewed aspect of a journal several options are available to you:

  • Look for the dates of peer review on the first page of the PDF version of the article. Usually it will have three dates: Reviewed, Accepted, and Published. Those are the stamp of peer review and verify the peer review process. But even if there are only two such dates, say Reviewed and Accepted, that is enough to established that the article has been through peer review. However not every publisher puts this information on the article's first page. 
  • Go to the journal's home page and check the "About" section. Most peer reviewed journals will include information about their process here.
  • Go to the database Ulrich's Periodicals Directory at your library's website. Search for the journal name and in the Basic Description section look for the Refereed category - it should say "Yes" for a peer reviewed journal.