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HED 329 - Child & Adolescent Health

Peer Review

What is Peer Review?

Peer Review is a critical part of evaluating information. It is a process that journals use to ensure the articles they publish represent the best scholarship currently available, and articles from peer reviewed journal are often grounded in empirical research. When an article is submitted to a peer reviewed journal, the editors send it out to other scholars in the same field (the author's peers) to get their assessment of the quality of the scholarship, its relevance to the field, its appropriateness for the journal, etc. Sometimes, you'll see this referred to as "refereed." 

Publications that don't use peer review (Time, Cosmo, Salon) rely on an editor to determine the value of an article. Their goal is mainly to educate or entertain the general public, not to support scholarly research.

Most library databases will have a search feature that allows you to limit your results to peer reviewed or scholarly sources.

If you can't tell whether or not a journal is peer-reviewed, check Ulrichsweb.

  1. Access the database here: Ulrichsweb
  2. Type in the title of the journal
  3. Peer-reviewed journals will have a referee jersey ("refereed" is another term for "peer-reviewed") - example below

Evaluation Criteria

Use the criteria below to help you evaluate a source.  As you do, remember:

  • Each criterion should be considered in the context of your research question. For example, currency changes if you are working on a current event vs. a historical topic.
  • Weigh all four criteria when making your decision. For example, the information may appear accurate, but if the authority is suspect you may want to find a more authoritative source for your information.

Criteria to consider:

  1. Currency: When was the information published or last updated? Is it current enough for your topic?
  2. Relevance: Is this information that you are looking for? Is it related to your topic? Is it detailed enough to help you answer questions on your topic.
  3. Authority: Who is the author or creator of the information (can be an individual or an organization)? Are they an expert on your topic? Has the source been peer reviewed? Who is the publisher? Are they reputable?
  4. Accuracy: Is the information true? What information does the author cite or refer to? Can you find this information anywhere else? Can you find evidence to back it up from another resource? Are studies mentioned but not cited (this would be something to check on)? Can you locate those studies?
  5. Methodology: What type of study did they conduct? Is it an appropriate type of study to answer their research question?  How many people were involved in the study? Is the sample size large and diverse enough to give trustworthy results?
  6. Purpose/perspective: What is the purpose of the information? Was it written to sell something or to convince you of something? Is this fact or opinion based? Is it unfairly biased?

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