Answered By: Sarah Morehouse
Last Updated: Jan 11, 2016     Views: 53

When a journal is peer reviewed, that means that when an author submits an article to the journal, the journal sends that article out to some experts in the field. It's double-blind - the author doesn't know who the reviewers are, and the reviewers don't know who the author is. The peer reviewers look for any errors or biases or sources of academic dishonesty. They send it back with either a rejection, or recommendations for revision. There's also editorial review, which is very similar, except that the journal has a board of editors (who are experts in the field, but not anonymous.) Most nursing journals use editorial review. "Scholarly journal" and "refereed journal" are terms that describe journals that have one of these systems of review.

When you are looking at a journal, there are some ways to tell if it's scholarly/refereed/peer reviewed. 

1. Google the journal's title and find its web site. Look for information on the web site about the submission and review process. They will usually say whether they use peer reviewers, or else list the members of their editorial board. 

2. Look at the article itself. There are some things that scholarly/refereed articles have in common:
- they will always have in-text citations and a bibliography
- they will always be written by an expert in the field, and you can tell because they list the author's job title and institution
- they are written for experts, so the language will be formal, technical, and deal with advanced concepts
- there will be no ads or illustrations that are there just to grab your attention

Just remember that not every item of content in a scholarly journal is peer/editorial board reviewed - letters to the editor, book reviews, and introductions to special issues are generally not reviewed. But the articles - research reports, case studies, thought pieces, etc. will be reviewed. 

Books can also be peer reviewed/editorial board reviewed. Generally that only happens for books that come out of University Presses. 

I've never heard of a scholarly resource that was video or other media. Reference books and text books are also not peer or editorial board reviewed, so as counterintuitive as it is, they're not scholarly. And while online journals through the library are peer reviewed, and even many online journals that you find on the web are peer reviewed, web sites are not. 

Here are some resources that may help: 

 

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