Peer-reviewed or refereed articles are those that have been critiqued by experts in the field before publication. Use the strategies below to determine if an article you’ve found is from a peer-reviewed journal. Note that typically only the research articles in a journal are peer-reviewed. News, letters, opinions, commentary, and book reviews are usually not peer-reviewed even when they appear in peer-reviewed journals.

Use the limit option within a database

Some library databases and search tools, including OneSearch, allow you to limit your results to those from peer-reviewed journals either from the initial search screen or while you are viewing your results. Take advantage of these limit options, but be aware that they only tell you that an article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, not that the article itself was peer-reviewed. Remember that typically only original research articles are peer-reviewed; not news, letters, opinions, commentary or book reviews.

Check the journal website

Find the publisher’s website for the journal in which the article appears and read the description of the journal to see if the words “peer-reviewed” or “refereed” are used. Try also looking at any instructions for authors, where the review process might be described. Statements like those below indicate that articles are peer-reviewed:

  • “Research articles are critiqued by two or three outside referees.”
  • “The journal maintains a double-blind reviewing process.” [This means that the authors aren’t told who the reviewers are, and the reviewers aren’t told who the authors are.]
  • “Authors are encouraged to provide the names and addresses of up to four persons qualified to review their manuscript.”

Consult Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory

Search for the journal in Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory. In a list of results, those journals that are peer-reviewed will have an image of a referee’s shirt next to them. In the description of an individual journal, those that are peer-reviewed will have a “refereed” label that reads “yes.”