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BIOL 130: Cell Biology & Genetics: Peer-Review

Peer-Review Movie

Peer-Review in Three Minutes
This three minute video describes and discusses the importance of peer-review and its process.

(NCSU video, 3:15 minutes)



Peer review, also known as refereed, is a process in which experts in related fields of study review and evaluate literature before it is published.  It is largely used with research journals to help ensure that published articles represent the best scholarship currently available. When an article is submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, the editors send it to other scholars in the same field (the author's peers) to get their opinion on the quality of the scholarship, its relevance to the field, its appropriateness for the journal, etc.

Publications that don't use peer review (Time, Discover, Newsweek, U.S. News) rely on the judgment of the editors whether an article is quality material or not. They are not as reliable because these journals do not rely on solid, scientific scholarship.


Publishers are usually pretty clear whether a journal is peer-reviewed, so the most efficient way is usually to go directly to the publisher's web site.  However, this info may be hidden in the scope or the About us page of a journal's web page.  If you have a print copy of the journal, look at the inside cover where a small blurb will indicate whether it is peer-reviewed. 

Often peer-review journals share the following characteristics... 

1. Authors are experts in their fields of study, and they will often list their credentials and affiliated organizations in their publications (e.g. university faculty member). 

2. The audience is typically geared towards other scholars, researchers, and students, and they will often use specialized terminology in their fields of study. 

3. Their sources of information, known as references, are provided either within the paper (in-text) or at the end of the paper (bibliography). 

4. Abstracts are provided at the beginning of the article which summarizes the paper's content in a paragraph. Since scholarly articles are long, this is a good way to determine if an article is pertinent to your topic. 

5. Graphics in peer-reviewed articles tend to contain graphs, charts, and tables.  They rarely contain ads.  

You may also try searching the Publications holdings within Academic Search Premier (see screenshot below).  If a journal is indexed by this database, it will provide info about the journal including if it is peer-reviewed.

Don't forget that our librarians are excellent resources!