How to Find and Identify Peer-reviewed Articles

Literature Review

When completing your dissertation, it is vital to bring in outside sources. However, these sources need to be “peer-reviewed.” An article that is peer-reviewed is one that experts in that field review prior to its publication. The review entails fact-checking, editing, and providing feedback to the author. The experts then must approve the article before it is published. Thus, peer-reviewed articles are thorough and reliable resources to utilize and discuss in your dissertation.

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To locate peer-reviewed sources it is perhaps easiest to first consult your library database. Many libraries have an option to refine your search and show only scholarly articles, however this is not always the case. If you have the whole journal that the article is published in, you can look for an editorial statement or author instructions at either the very beginning or very end of the journal. If the journal has an editorial statement or has instructions to the authors, then it will say whether it utilizes peer-reviewing. Additionally, sometimes the publishing journal will denote whether their articles are peer-reviewed on their official website.

You can also look at the article itself to see if the author(s)’s credentials and/or academic affiliations are listed, if there is an abstract at the beginning of the article, or if it includes a reference list of sources cited in the article. These factors are typically found in peer-reviewed articles. If all else fails, you can also utilize the Ulrichs Global Serials Directory, which is a database that has information about publications, including whether they have been peer-reviewed. Ulrichs calls peer-reviewed articles “refereed,” so be sure to note the difference to avoid confusion during your search. Using one, or several, of these methods should enable you to identify peer-reviewed sources when conducting research for your dissertation.