What is peer review? What is a peer-reviewed journal?

Peer-reviewed (or refereed) journals

Peer-reviewed or refereed journals have an editorial board of subject experts who review and evaluate submitted articles before accepting them for publication. A journal may be a scholarly journal but not a peer-reviewed journal.

Peer review (or referee) process

  • An editorial board asks subject experts to review and evaluate submitted articles before accepting them for publication in a scholarly journal.
  • Submissions are evaluated using criteria including the excellence, novelty and significance of the research or ideas.
  • Scholarly journals use this process to protect and maintain the quality of material they publish.
  • Members of the editorial board are listed near the beginning of each journal issue.

How to tell if a journal is peer-reviewed

  • If you are searching for scholarly or peer-reviewed articles in a database, you may be able to limit your results to peer-reviewed articles. 
  • If you're looking at the journal itself, search for references to their peer-review process, such as in an editorial statement, or a section with instructions to authors. 
  • You can also check the entry for a journal in the Library Catalogue. Many journal records will have a note in the Description section, e.g. to say "Refereed / Peer-reviewed."

For an overview of the different types of journals, see What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?