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CIN211: Science Fiction Film

Peer Review is....

  • the process by which scholars critically appraise each other's work to ensure a high level of scholarship in a journal and to improve the quality and readability of a manuscript. 
  • applied to both primary articles (i.e. articles which present findings from original research) and review articles that summarize primary research. 

Note:    'Peer reviewed' and 'refereed' are synonyms.

Is everything in a peer-reviewed journal peer-reviewed?

Not necessarily.   It is also possible that some contents of a peer reviewed journal will not have been peer reviewed.

For example, editorials may not be peer reviewed but research articles generally will be. This varies from journal to journal; look for "about the journal" or "instructions to authors"  or "journal homepage" for guidance on this.   See the following examples:

  • see the statement on peer review at Science ("...only some of the papers are reviewed in depth....")
  • see the statement on peer review at Nature ("...the following types of contribution...are peer reviewed...other contributed articles are not usually peer reviewed...."). Note especially the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs.

Identifying Articles in Peer-Review Journals

What is peer review?

When research is submitted for publication, if often goes through a process called peer review to ensure it meets quality standards. Other experts in the field will check the research for any problems related to its premise, methodology, data/evidence, argumentation/logic, and conclusions. Research will only appear in peer-reviewed publications once this process has been completed and any the authors have made any necessary revisions.

By using peer-reviewed (or refereed) research in your assignment, you can trust that the sources you use to strengthen your argument are reliable and trustworthy, making your own research stronger.

How can I check whether a source has been peer reviewed?

1) UofT LibrarySearch

The easiest way to check the peer review status of your sources is when you are first searching for them in LibrarySearch. Keep an eye out for the Peer Review tag—this means the source has gone through the process.

See above for instructions on using the Peer-reviewed filter in LibrarySearch.

Screenshot showing the peer review tag for the article "He Said, She Said: Gender and Academic/Professional Writing"


2) Databases

If you are searching in a database, you may also be able to narrow results by peer review status. Note: not all databases allow you to filter by peer review status. 


Here, you can see the peer review filter in the ProQuest advanced search interface:

Screenshot showing the advanced search peer review filter in the Proquest database interface.

You can also filter by peer review status on the search results page:

Screenshot showing the peer review filter in the Proquest database interface search results.



3) UlrichsWeb

If you are searching a database that does not allow you to filter by peer review status or are unsure whether a source you have found is peer reviewed, you should consult UlrichsWeb, a directory of serial publications like scholarly journals. Make sure you search for the journal your articles appears in, not the name of the article.

When you have found the journal, look for the peer review mark, which looks like a referee jersey:

Screenshot of the UlrichsWeb entry for the Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing, showing peer review status.



For more instructions on using UlrichsWeb:

UofT Mississauga Library Video on accessing Ulrichweb via LibrarySearch. You can use one of the campus search pages or UofT Libraries home page to search for Ulrichsweb.


This page is borrowed and adapted with appreciation from the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy (ISUP) Guide created by Rob Makinson, Liaison Librarian for ISUP program at UofT Mississauga Library.