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Peer Review

What is peer review?

Peer review is a system used to decide if an article should be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Each paper submitted to a peer-reviewed journal is read and evaluated by experts in the article’s subject area.

The reviewers assess the article’s validity, importance, and originality, and then recommend whether it should be printed in the journal. The reviewers’ suggestions are considered by the journal’s editor, who makes the final decision about whether to accept or reject the article.

Peer review ensures that quality papers are published in the journal. The reviewers confirm that articles do not contain technical problems, ethical issues or significant errors.

They also verify that the authors used the appropriate study methodology, analyzed and interpreted the results correctly, and provided enough evidence to support their conclusions. Since peer review filters out work that is poorly done and makes sure that the manuscript is accurate, publication in a peer reviewed journal shows that the article is trustworthy.

Please note that there are number of types of peer reviewed articles, which included blinded peer review.  See the publishing company's Whiley's overview of Types of Peer Review

What is open access? 

“Open-access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder." Peter Suber, A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access

This means open access journals can be read online by anyone, without paying to access the articles.

How to identify if an article is from a peer reviewed journal

Use the following two directories:

UlrichsWeb  - a directory of journals 

DOAJ: Directiory of Open Access Journals 

Seven Steps: Checking the open access and peer review status of journal articles

1. Search the journal article databases (i.e. Political Science Complete) for articles on your topic using keywords.

2. Choose article titles that are relevant to your topic.

3. Identify the journal titles, from the articles you have selected. The journal title often appears after the article title. It may be found in the “source” area.  

4. Search for the journal title in UlrichsWeb 

5. Identify if the journal title is a) peer reviewed/ refereed and b) open access. 

  • The dark shirt icon means that the journal is peer reviewed /refereed 
  • The open lock icon means that the journal is open access

6.  If the journal is peer reviewed/refereed and not open access, go to the journal website. On the journal’s website, you should be able to identify whether the journal has a blind peer review process (i.e. single or double blind).

a) Look for “journal information”, “instructions for authors” or “submission guidelines” for more about the publishing process and about the type of peer review used by the journal.

b) Read the peer review policy or process to check if the journal uses blinded peer review.

7. If the journal is open access in Ulrich’s, you will need to check the title further in the DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals . Based on this quality check and your assignment instructions, decide whether or not to include the article in question in your assignment.