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Education Research Guide

What does "peer review" mean?

Peer review is a process in which other scholars in the author's field or specialty critically assess a draft of the article. Peer reviewed, or refereed, journals are scholarly journals that only publish articles that have gone through this review process.

A scholarly journal is visibly different from other periodicals/magazines, but sometimes it's hard to tell. You can use Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory to check.

Scholarly journals vs. popular magazines


Popular Magazines & Newspapers

Scholarly Journals


 General public

 Professionals within a field

 Articles written by

 Almost anyone

 Professionals within a field

 Articles usually indicate author 

 affiliations (such as universities or research centers)


 Non-technical language

 In-depth research
 Technical language
 Research reports

 Charts, graphs, or equations
 References (endnotes and footnotes, 

 often very helpful in finding more

 information on a subject)

 Continuous pagination (first issue of

 the year starts at page 1, subsequent

 issues continue the page numbering 

 from the previous issue)


 Consumer advertising
 Glossy photos

 Dense text
 Few ads (specialized)





 Issues usually identified by 




 Issues usually identified by volume

 and/or issue number

 Can be useful


 Broad overview of complex  

 Popular perspective on any  

 Finding out what's being  

 written about a subject    


 Current research
 Checking accuracy of data or statistics

 Other factors

 Primary sources for popular

 culture or public opinion study;

 usually used as secondary 


 Peer Reviewed

 Abstracts or summaries often provided before each


 Primary sources for lab or field research; secondary

 sources for literary criticism.


 Examples include Time, U.S. News & 

 World Report National Geographic,

 and the New York Times

Time magazine

 Examples include American Journal of Sociology,

 Journal of the American Medical Association

 (JAMA) [the word “journal” is often in the title]