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Information Literacy Toolkit: What is Peer-Review?

Scholarly literature is written by researchers or experts in their field and must go through the peer review process before articles are published in a journal. The peer review process requires authors to submit their papers to a publisher who will then share their work with other experts in the same field to review and evaluate. These experts will then determine if the information the author is presenting is credible. If it is not, the article will either be sent back to the author to make the necessary revisions or rejected outright and not be published in the journal.

Some examples of academic journals are:

  • Journal of American History

  • Psychological Review

  • Nature

  • Annals of the National Academy of Science

  • Journal of the American Medical Association

Popular periodicals, usually referred to as magazines and newspapers,  are probably most familiar to you. Examples include titles such as,

  • The New York Times

  • Newsweek

  • National Geographic

  • Psychology Today

  • Wall Street Journal

Magazines and newspapers are written by journalists or staff who often write about a broad range of topics without necessarily being an expert on that topic. Outside of an editor making sure the article is well written and some basic fact checking, there is little oversight for what information gets published. This is not to say a magazine or newspaper can't be trusted or isn't factually accurate, but that you need to evaluate each source to determine if they are credible. 

Created by the Peabody Library at the Vanderbilt University