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This guide will help to understand what is peer-review, how it's processed, and how to find peer-reviewed sources.

Peer review

What is peer review? Peer review is a form of quality assessment. In this context, the word ‘peer’ (meaning an equal) refers to a fellow researcher. A peer review is therefore an assessment by a fellow specialist in the relevant field. All academic journals work with a system like this in order to assure the quality of the articles they publish.

If an article is peer-reviewed, you can assume that the information is reliable and of the required standard. In many bibliographic databases you can search specifically for peer-reviewed articles.


Researchers record the results of their work in academic articlesThe aim of these articles is to inform other researchers about research findings and to lay claim to the findings as new and original insights. Such claims are not usually acknowledged by other researchers until the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The articles are peer reviewed if the multiple experts review them in a critical process before publishing in the journal. Experts, scholars, professionals from the same research field review the quality of the papers and assess whether an article meets certain requirements, such as originality, accessibility and solid substantiation of the results. (BioMed Central. Peer review process). 

Not every article is peer-reviewed! Editorial column, book review, opinion or other publications of this nature might not go under the review process.


On the journal level, peer-reviewed means all articles are subjected to the review process. 

Check the journal description to ensure the review is being done not by editorial boards but by peers and experts.

Scholarly, academic, research means peer-reviewed?

In the assignment requirements it might be highlighted to find academic or scholarly and peer reviewed articles. Why?

As mentioned above, the scholarly and academic resources are not always peer-reviewed. If you find the research articles with the required attributes and references, they still might not be published after the review process.

How to identify the scholarly article and how it is different from popular or other types of articles? Visit the libguide Identify and evaluate sources.


The libguide is created based on a University Library Groningen publication on and Oregon State University on


BioMed Central. (2023). Peer review process.

UC Museum of Paleontology. (2023). Scrutinizing science: Peer review in Understanding Science 101.

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