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Evaluating Your Sources

Tips and tricks for evaluating the sources you find in the course of research.

The Peer Review Process

Above is a general schematic of the peer review process.  Each publication has its own individual process, but this illustration gives you a general sense of common elements.

The overarching purpose of peer review is to increase the quality of the manuscripts that get published and try to catch errors, mistakes, fraudulent claims and/or weak research before they get disseminated.

Types of Publications

Typically Peer-Reviewed Not typically Peer-Reviewed
  • Scholarly/academic journals
  • Conference papers (sometimes)
  • Scholarly books?
    • University Presses
  • Trade journals
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • General interest/popular books

If you are unsure whether a given journal is peer-reviewed or not, visit the journal's website and look at their editorial policies.  Any peer-reviewed journal should discuss their peer-review process in detail so prospective authors know what to expect when submitting manuscripts for publication.

Types of Literature within Scholarly Journals

Although the research articles in a scholarly journal are usually peer-reviewed, there are other types of content in those journals that are not peer reviewed.

Peer-Reviewed Documents Not Typically Peer-Reviewed
  • Primary Research Articles
    • Brief Communications
  • Review articles
  • Systemic reviews & Meta-analyses
  • Editorials
  • Letters to the editor
  • News articles
  • Commentary/Opinion pieces