Chapter 5: Peer Review

In this chapter you will learn about the peer review process and why it is an important part of scholarly research.  You will also learn how your own research can contribute to the scholarly conversation around a topic.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the peer-review process.
  • Explain why peer-review is important.
  • Identify types of peer-reviewed articles.
  • Identify peer-reviewed publications.
  • Explain the concept of research as a scholarly conversation.

ACRL Frame Alignment:

During your academic career, you will probably be required to use peer-reviewed articles for your research assignments. Finding and using these types of resources may be new to you, but they are important sources to be familiar with as a college student and also as a professional. These kinds of resources can be very compelling sources for your research because of the rigorous peer-review process that an article must go through in order to be published.

The Peer-Review Process

For a research article to be published in a peer-reviewed journal it must first be reviewed by a panel of experts in the author’s field of study – in other words, the author’s peers.  The peer-review process is a quality control measure that ensures articles are thoroughly reviewed by multiple experts in the field. The reviewers determine whether the material is worthy of publication based on the following criteria:

  • Was the research conducted ethically and properly?
  • Were there any flaws in the research design?
  • Were appropriate conclusions drawn based on the results of the research?
  • Does this information make an important and relevant contribution to the current body of knowledge or literature that exists on this topic?

Once the peer-reviewers have completed their review, the journal editor forwards the comments to the author with a decision of whether to publish the article.

  1. Publish as is.
  2. Revise to correct errors or clarify certain points (publication is not guaranteed if the peer-reviewers do not accept the revisions).
  3. Not suitable for publication (there may be many reasons the article cannot be published).

If and when the article is published, students, professors, researchers, and librarians can find them through electronic library databases. Students may use peer-reviewed articles as sources in research assignments. Professors and researchers may read peer-reviewed articles to stay up to date with current research in their field.

Watch the video, Peer Review in 3 Minutes for an overview of the peer review process.