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CAL 103: Writing and Communications Colloquium

This guide will help CAL 103 students get started with their research.

How can you make sure a source is peer-reviewed?

This is partly a question about identifying sources, as the peer review process is a characteristic of scholarly (or academic) journal articles. Research articles published in scholarly journals are usually peer reviewed. The only items published in a scholarly journal that are not going to have gone through peer review will be letters to the editor, editorials, book reviews, and the like.

However, on occasion you will also come across a scholarly journal that does not use peer review, or you might also want to make sure about the peer review status of a publication. One good method is to check the publication information in Library databases. For example, Academic Search Premier and other EBSCOhost databases as well as those from ProQuest include publication details for every journal, magazine, newspaper and other source they list in their collections.

EBSCOhost/Academic Search Premier

Click images to enlarge.

Note that your list of search results will include icons that indicate the type of document, as seen in the image below:

Titled "Academic Search Premier (EBSCOhost)", including a screenshot of a list of results with red arrows pointing to the icons for Scholarly Journal and Periodical, and a gray box at the base of those arrows that reads "Icons Determined by publication type"


When you have clicked into a document, pay attention to identifying characteristics such as the title and abstracts to learn more about the document. While these characteristics are helpful in figuring out whether you've found a peer-reviewed source, you can also click on the publication title for more details about the journal, including peer review status.

Titled "Academic Journal Article / Academic Search Premier"; an image of an article record with a gray box near the title that reads "Long title that tells you exactly what the paper is about", a red box around the journal title with a red arrow pointing to another image of the periodical information, including an arrow pointing to the small text that reads "Peer reviewed: yes"; and a gray box near the bottom of the article image that reads "Abstract that summarizes full paper / Written by author, required by journal"


Titled "Periodical Article / Academic Search Premier" with an image of an article record, a gray box near the article title that reads "Short title that wants to catch your attention", a red box around the journal title with a red arrow pointing to the publication details and a red arrow pointing to the line that says "peer review: no", and a gray box near the bottom of the article that reads "Brief abstract Probably written by a recapper when the article was added to the database"


Click image to enlarge.

Similar to EBSCOhost, ProQuest gives you a descriptor to help identify source type, as well as links to more information about the publications.

Titled "ProQuest / Scholarly Journal Article" with three images: one of a list of search results with a red box around the term "Scholarly Journal" and a gray box next to it that reads "Descriptor", and a red arrow next to the article title that points to the second box (top aligned) with the article information and a red box around the publication title that points downward to a red box with the publication details and a red arrow pointing out the line that reads "Peer reviewed."

Still unsure? Ask a librarian!