What is a peer-reviewed source?

An article is called "peer-reviewed" because it is reviewed by experts in its field who vouch that the research is high-quality, original, and relevant. Peer-reviewed journals and presses have teams of experts who work with authors to ensure their writings meet high academic standards before publication. Peer-reviewed sources have a special place in scholarly discourse -- which includes your work as a Dallas College student -- because the rigorous review process affords credibility and authority.

This short video is a great explanation of the peer review process.

Anatomy of a peer-reviewed article

You can grasp the meaning of a scholarly article efficiently if you recognize and understand its distinctive features. While various disciplines have distinct writing conventions, here are some of the characteristics you will find in many scholarly articles:

Title: Generally describes the content of the article in dry and straightforward -- though sometimes technical -- language.

Listing of Authors and Affiliations: The authors and the academic or research institutions they are affiliated with are listed. Authors’ credentials may appear below their names or in a footnote.

Abstract: A brief summary of the article meant to give an overview of methods and key topics, so readers can know whether the article is relevant to their research before they invest time reading. It is also often accompanied by a list of keywords capturing the article’s central topics.

Introduction: Overview of the research topic or problem.

Literature Review: Often but not always titled “Literature Review,” this section reviews previous scholarship relevant to the article’s topic.

Methods: Summarizes the methods the authors used to conduct their research. A “methods” section is more common in science and social science than in humanities fields like English.

Results: Presents the key findings resulting from the authors’ research. A formal “results” section is more common in science and social science than in humanities.

Discussion/Conclusion: Summarizes and reflects on the significance of the research findings.

References: Citations that document the authors’ references to other scholarship.

Click on the picture below to explore the anatomy of a peer-reviewed article in more detail (opens in a new window).

The scholarly conversation

Peer-reviewed articles have the distinctive features explained in "Anatomy of a peer-reviewed article" because they have a special purpose. They exist to facilitate discussion and debate among scholars. That is why, for example, academic writing places great emphasis on citing and documenting sources. By documenting sources, scholars show they are aware of the important voices and viewpoints that have come before them. They can also then show how their original research adds new information or perspectives to the ongoing collective advancement of knowledge in their fields.

This video examines scholarly discourse and notes that your own academic writing brings your voice into the conversation.

How to find peer-reviewed articles

The library catalog

Here's how to find peer-reviewed journal articles in the library catalog. Along with entering your search terms, in the left-hand column, check "Peer-reviewed Journals" and "Articles," then click "Apply Filters."

Research databases

To find peer-reviewed articles in our research databases, limit your searches to peer-reviewed material. The interfaces vary, but you will find a control for choosing peer-reviewed materials in most of our databases. For example, in Academic OneFile, Under "Filter Your Results," you can check the box for "Peer-Reviewed Journals."