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FW 506: Graduate Certificate Capstone

Resources, tools and tips for OSU Fisheries and Wildlife students working on their graduate certificate capstone projects

How Do I Know the Articles I Found Are Peer Reviewed?

While several databases such as 1Search or Academic Search Premier give you the option to choose a checkbox to "limit to articles from peer-reviewed publications," these checkboxes are not fool proof.  Use two out of the following three methods on this page to determine if the articles you have found are peer-reviewed.  First, either check the journal's website or use the database to find out if the journal uses the peer review process to edit articles.  Finally, always check that the article itself is peer reviewed and reporting on original research by looking for specific characteristics of the article.

Use the Journal Website

One of the best places to find out if a journal is peer-reviewed is to go to the journal's website (just Google the journal title).

Most publishers have a website for a journal that tells you about the journal, how authors can submit an article, and what the process is for getting published.

If you find the journal's website, look for the link that says "information for authors," "instructions for authors," "submitting an article" or something similar.

Journal peer-review statement

Use the Databases

Another place to find out if the journal is peer-reviewed is to use one of the online databases.

For example, if you know that articles from your journal appear in the Academic Search Premier database, you can search for the journal in the database and learn more about it.

Go to Academic Search Premier and click on Publications at the top of the screen.

Search by publication

Enter the name of the journal and click browse. If the journal is included in the database, you will see it in the list of results.

Search for the publication

This will take you to the journal information. At the bottom, you can see that this journal is peer-reviewed.

Peer-reviewed journal

Academic Search Premier does not include all journals so the one you are looking for may not be listed here. You can also try Academic OneFile and browse for the publication.

Evaluate Your Source

  • Does the source have a bibliography? This can lead you to other sources.
  • Is there an author listed as part of the citation? Judging authority can be difficult without an author.
  • Is the journal refereed (peer reviewed)?
  • How old is the source? Will this matter for your topic? Currency of information can be important. Some aspects of a topic may need currency more than others.
  • What other terminology is being used either by the author or by the database? Keep an eye out for other words you can use in your search statements.
  • Do the OSU Libraries own the journal (either in print or electronically)? If we don't own it, it will take more time to get your hands on the source.

Look at the Article

Peer reviewed articles are research articles that have been evaluated and approved by other experts in the field before being accepted for publication in a journal. To  identify peer reviewed and scholarly articles, consider these elements:

  1. AUTHOR:  The author is always listed with the credentials that identify the author's expertise, such as university or research affiliation. The author often holds a Ph.D. in the subject area of the article. Contrast this to an author who writes on many different topics.
  2. LANGUAGE:  The article language tends to be formal, sophisticated and technical, using the language that is particular to the discipline in which it is written. It is geared to other researchers in the same subject. Contrast this with popular articles that are written at an informal and basic level for easy understanding by the general public.
  3. CONTENT:  There if often an abstract at the beginning of the article which summarizes the content. The material is analytical in-depth and it often cites to a bibliography of prior research. Contrast this with popular material that is written at a broad level.
  4. GRAPHICS:  Except in the arts and humanities, graphics will tend to be charts and graphs illustrating the results of experiments, surveys, or formulas. Contrast this to popular literature, which is heavily illustrated with colorful pictures.
  5. LENGTH:  Scholarly articles tend to be much longer than popular articles.
  6. ADs: Scholarly literature has few or no ads. Compare this to popular literature which has many ads. This is not always easy to judge in online publications.

NOTE:  In many databases, such as EBSCO, Gale, and ProQuest it is possible to limit to Peer Reviewed/Scholarly.  See illustrations for this at: University of California - Riverside

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Reading a scholarly article can seem daunting at first. Scholarly articles are long and have a lot of data. If you break down the article into components, it will make it easier to read and understand.

For a quick overview, click on the link below to see an example of a scholarly article and its parts.

example of scholarly article