Peer review is a process in which scholars critically appraise each other's work, in order to determine if a scholarly journal article should be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Each paper submitted to the journal is read and evaluated by subject experts for validity, importance, and originality. The purpose of peer review is to improve the quality and readability of the paper, and to ensure that only high-level research and scholarship is published in the journal.
A couple of reminders about peer review:
Peer-reviewed articles are published in peer-reviewed journals. The easiest way to make sure that you're searching for peer-reviewed journals is by applying the peer-review limiter during your search. A peer-review box or tab is available in many databases.
An example of the peer-review limiter in a ProQuest database
Another way to check if a journal is peer-reviewed is to look it up in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (also known as UlrichsWeb). Ulrich's is a database that contains information about periodicals, such as journals, newspapers, magazines, and more. One of the pieces of information Ulrich's contains is whether or not a journal is peer-reviewed (also known as refereed).
1. Open Ulrich's Periodicals Directory.
2. Ulrich's maintains information at the journal level. This means that you need to search it by journal title, not article title. Type in the journal's title in the search box, and click the green search button.
For example, let's say you want to find out if the following article is peer-reviewed:
López-Torres, S. and Silcox, M.T. 2015. The biogeographic origin of major primate clades. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 156 (Suppl.): 206.
You should search for American Journal of Physical Anthropology in Ulrich's.
3. In Ulrich's, peer-reviewed journals are called "refereed" journals. In the search results, an icon of a referee's jersey (a striped shirt) indicates that a journal is peer-reviewed/refereed.
Since the American Journal of Physical Anthropology has an icon of a referee's jersey listed next to it, this means that the journal is peer reviewed.
4. Remember that not every article published in a peer-reviewed journal is peer-reviewed. Articles like editorials and books reviews don't go through the peer-review process. However, research articles are peer-reviewed.
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