How to Know an Article is Peer-Reviewed (Scholarly/Refereed)?

author By Mary Boies

how to determine a peer-reviewed article

Are you unsure if the article you have identified as a scholarly source is peer-reviewed? Well, you are not alone. Finding peer-reviewed articles to use in essays and research papers can be stressful, as most students might agree.

Peer-reviewed articles are integral in research writing since they offer comprehensive, evidence-based, and quality answers to research questions. They are also highly authoritative, accurate, relevant, and purposeful to any piece of academic writing. You can draw conclusions based on peer-reviewed articles because they contain empirical results.

The main question this guide focuses on is how to know and tell if an article is peer-reviewed.

You can know if an article is peer-reviewed by reading the about section of a journal that specifies whether the articles published are peer-reviewed and the reviewing they undertake. You can also consult a database with peer-reviewed journals such as Google Scholar, Scopus, PubMed, Jstor, Web of Science Master Journal List, EBSCO, or other scholarly databases. You can also ask your librarian for assistance in spotting a peer-reviewed article. Some databases allow you to set parameters that only include peer-reviewed journal articles.

What is a Peer-Reviewed Article?

A peer-reviewed article is a work (scholarly journal article) that has been thoroughly assessed and is accepted for publishing in a scholarly journal based on its quality. Peer review processes are a quality control mechanism for academic journals that provide solid feedback to the authors to improve the quality of their research before publication in a journal.

Peer reviews help scrutinize articles for publishing so that only those that meet the standards of a specific field can be published. Peer-reviewed articles become models of research practices.

Peer-reviewed articles are a form of scientific communication that help to write papers that address specific research questions. They are thoroughly evaluated by a board of editors who use certain guidelines for publishing professionally written articles in a specific field.

A peer review article has the following features:


Not all the information in a peer-reviewed journal is peer-reviewed or refereed. An example is editorials, book reviews, chapter summaries, and letters to the editors, which don't count as articles and might be unacceptable when writing research papers.

Types of Peer Reviews

There are five types of peer-reviewed articles that you will most likely come across as you research to write an essay, research paper, or term paper. Peer-reviewed articles can be single anonymous peer review, double anonymous peer review, open peer review, post-publication peer review, and registered reports. Let us discuss each type.

  1. Registered Reports. Registered reports entail the referees doing a first round of peer review immediately after the researcher designs the study. The researcher can use the feedback to tweak their experiment, hypotheses, or research questions.
  2. Open peer review. In an open peer review, the author and the reviewers at least know one another, or the identities become known at some point during the review process. Although in rare cases, the process might entail including the reviewer's names and opinions on an article. Open peer reviews ensure that authors get polite and valuable comments to help them improve their research. The readers also have a chance to read the comprehensive reviews and have trust in the research work.
  3. Single-Blind Peer Review. Also known as a single anonymous peer review, this type of peer review entails the reviewers knowing the author, but the author is unaware of the independent reviewers. The team of independent reviewers can then give honest, unbiased, and genuine feedback without the guilt of being misjudged. Nevertheless, it is prone to unconscious bias and over-focus on the author rather than their piece.
  4. Double Anonymous Peer Review. In double-blind peer reviews, the reviewers are unaware of the author of the journal article, and the author does not know them either. It is a common occurrence in humanities and social sciences journals. The advantage of this is to get intentional, purposeful, and unbiased reviews or feedback. The referees also have confidence in their work as they will receive positive criticism, even if it is negative. Anonymity increases trust in the entire process.
  5. Post-publication peer review. A post-publication peer review might be a single-blind, double-blind, or open peer review done after an article is published. It is also a review done immediately after a piece of a journal article is published. The readers are invited to give their honest opinion and perspectives on the paper. The author can use the feedback to reflect on new ideas, tweak the paper, and polish it to remove errors.

Ways to Tell if a Research Article is Peer-Reviewed

There are many ways to find peer-reviewed articles online. One method might be effective in one instance and ineffective in another. Use these strategies to find an article reviewed by a panel of experts in the field.

If all these methods do not suffice in determining if articles are from a peer-reviewed journal, consult with your instructor for further assistance. Otherwise, we have answered the question about determining whether an article qualifies as a peer-reviewed journal article.

Before you Leave …

If you are searching for a peer-reviewed, it is best to consult your online school library or librarian, check online databases with peer-reviewed journals, and check the information about the journals where articles are published. It might help to use the "advanced search" option and mark the "peer-reviewed" check box.

If you are writing a nursing paper, ensure that you use peer-reviewed articles that were published within the last five years for the currency of information. Using the most recent refereed or scholarly journals ensures that you capture accurate information.

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