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Medical Ethics

The Peer Review Process

  • "Peer review" is a formal process in scholarly, academic publishing; generally, peer review refers to journals.
  • Once the journal's editor considers an article for publication, the editorial board, made up of other experts in that field (the authors'/researchers' peers), reviews the article.
  • These experts examine and critique the article, as well as evaluate it for content, accuracy, validity, and writing style.
  • The author may be asked to revise the article before it is finally accepted for publication.
  • Published articles are open to scrutiny and criticism from members of the scientific community.

Keep in mind that many sources on the Internet, including Wikipedia, do not engage in this peer review process and may not be suitable for your research. When in doubt, check with your faculty member.

How Can You Tell if An Article is Peer Reviewed?

Peer-reviewed articles are published in peer-reviewed journals. Often, but not always, journal is in the source's title (for example, the American Journal of Public Health). Some Characteristics of Peer-Reviewed Articles include:

  • Are generally lengthy
  • Include a list of references - sources cited within the article
  • Generally contain few pictures unless they enhance or clarify the content of the article
  • Generally, begin with an abstract or summary
  • Include the author's credentials, affiliation (the institute, university, hospital, etc. where he or she conducted this research), & contact information

In addition, a research article describing a study will include:

  • A literature review (a summary of other's prior research on the topic)
  • A methods section  - the methodology used in the study (design of the study, participants, instruments)
  • Data (perhaps charts, graphs, tables)
  • Results and a discussion of findings
  • A list of references to all materials cited in the literature review

How do I know if a journal is scholarly?

Our databases may include articles from magazines, newspapers, trade publications and scholarly journals. How do you know if an article is scholarly or not? See "Popular, Scholarly, or Trade?" from the University of Texas Libraries.

For a quick overview of the differences between scholarly sources and magazines, check out this video from the Peabody Library.


Finding a Peer-Reviewed Article

All of our databases allow you to limit results to articles that are peer-reviewed. In the Ebsco databases, this feature is found on the main search page, under "limit your results" as in the example below. From your results page, you can also extract peer-reviewed articles by using the "limit to" options on the left side of your results.


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