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Peer-reviewed journals

"Peer-reviewed" (or "refereed," "academic" or "scholarly") refers to the policy of having experts in the field examine a submitted article before accepting it for publication. The peer review (or referee) process insures that the research described in a journal's articles is sound and of high quality.

Identifying peer-reviewed journals

Many databases let you limit your search results to only peer-reviewed journals and articles.

It may not be obvious if a publication is peer-reviewed. Ulrich's Global Serials Directory lists titles with 'refereed' icons or includes peer-reviewed information under the Additional Title Details section.

The following are general criteria used to distinguish between popular magazines, trade journals and scholarly journals.

Criteria Scholarly journals Trade journals Popular magazines
Appearance Print:
  • plain cover
  • plain paper
  • black / white graphics and illustrations
  • pages are usually consecutive throughout the volume
Print:
  • glossy paper
  • pictures and illustrations in colour
  • each issue starts with page one
Print:
  • eye-catching cover
  • glossy paper
  • pictures and illustrations in colour
  • each issue starts with page one
Audience Researchers, professionals and academics Members of a specific business, industry or organization General public
Authors
  • Experts in the field, such as professors
  • Authors named and institutional affiliations given
  • Articles written by staff members, contributing authors or freelance writers
  • Authors usually named
  • Articles written by staff members, journalists, and freelance writers
  • Authors may be anonymous
References or bibliographies Bibliographies are always present May include short bibliographies Rarely includes bibliographies
Editors Editorial board of outside scholars (known as peer review) Editors work for publisher Editors work for publisher
Publishers Often a scholarly or professional organization or a university press Often a trade organization Commercial, for profit
Content

Original research, in-depth studies, literary criticism and theory

Industry trends, new products or techniques, and organizational news Personalities, news of current events, and general interest articles
Writing style and language Uses discipline-specific terminology that is sophisticated and technical Uses terminology and language of trade or industry covered

Easy to read, simple language

Advertisements (print version) Few or none
(usually for books or conferences)
Moderate
(all or most are trade-related)
Heavy
(for consumer products)
Examples

Journal of Computer and System Sciences

Industry week

Chemical and Engineering News

Maclean's

Portions of this content was adapted from Colorado State University Library and Odum Library, Valdosta State University.