Locate Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Remember that your best source of help is the librarian at the Research Help Desk in the Library. You may call or email the Research Help Desk at: 315-312-4267 or askalibrarian@oswego.edu.

Peer Reviewed journals are also referred to as "scholarly," "professional" or "refereed journals." These journals contain articles written by experts in their chosen fields. A group of professionals from the field, (the author's peers), review the articles to ensure that the information and research methods are correct.

Now, how do you determine if a particular journal is peer reviewed?

One method is to limit your searches in our databases to peer reviewed journals. Many databases have this option. If you have difficulty using these options, ask for help at the Research Help Desk. You may need to use the Advanced Search option to access the peer reviewed limits. These limits are not always fool proof, but will help you narrow your search significantly.

But what if the database I'm using doesn't have a place to click to limit to "scholarly" or "refereed" journals? How can I tell if something is scholarly? Here are a few clues to look for to help you determine if something fits in the "scholarly" category:

  • Peer reviewed articles will list one or more authors and include information about their credentials.  Look for information that will help you determine the author's knowledge or expertise in the subject about which he/she is writing.
  • The intended audience of a peer reviewed journal is scholars or practitioners in a discipline.  These articles may be difficult for the general public to understand.
  • Peer reviewed articles will include a list of references, citations or a bibliography of sources used by the author(s).
  • Scholarly articles will often begin with an abstract or "author's abstract" at the beginning of the article.
  • Peer reviewed articles typically follow a certain format: abstract, description of the experiment or study (including methods used, target population, etc.), results of the experiment or study, discussion of the results, conclusions, bibliography/sources/references/citations/endnotes.
  • Peer reviewed journals tend to have a "serious" look: few, if any pictures, and fewer still in color. They may include graphs, charts or tables and few advertisements.

If you are uncertain about whether a journal is peer reviewed, go to the journal's web site and look for a link that is intended to help authors with submitting manuscripts for publication.  This section will often describe the journal's submission review process.  Look for indications that the author's manuscript will be reviewed by several of his/her peers in their discipline.  If you are still uncertain, ask a librarian for help.

You may also want to ask for your professor's opinion if you have a question about a specific journal source.