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:

Ulrich's Periodicals Directory  

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 Ulrich's Periodicals Directory 

An image of the Ulrichs Periodicals Directory database, with the keywords civil wars in the search box.

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

  • The dark book/shirt shape means that the journal is peer reviewed /refereed 

  • The open lock means that the journal is open access

An image of the search results from Ulrichs database for the keywords civil wars are shown, a list of two instances of journals with the title Civil Wars, icons along the leftside indicating open access and peer reviewed status, also included in other columns publisher, country, status, type of serial and the ISSN number.

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). Look for “journal information” or “instructions for authors” for more about the publishing process. 

7. If the journal is open access in Ulrich’s, you will need to check the title further in the DOAJ: Directiory 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.  

An image of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) with a search box for journal titles

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