Peer review is a quality control process used by publications to help ensure that only high quality, methodologically sound information is presented in the publication. In the peer review process, material submitted for publication is sent to individuals who are experts on the topic. Those experts read the material and suggest to the editor whether the material should be rejected, should be accepted, or should be sent back to the authors with a request for revisions.
Peer-reviewed journals are journals that use the peer review process (defined in the box above). Almost all peer-reviewed journals are scholarly journals.
According to Cornell University Libraries, there are several characteristics that define a scholarly journal:
In your research, you will find articles from many different sources. The sources might be scholarly (intended to be used by scholars in the field), or they might be popular (intended to be used by the general public). Here are some things you can look for to determine if your article is scholarly:
If you want to be absolutely sure a journal is peer reviewed, use the database Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. Look up the journal by title. Titles that are peer reviewed are indicated by the black and white referee's jersey ("refereed" is another term for peer-reviewed.) Note that there may be some parts of the journal (e.g. letters to the editor, book reviews, etc.) that are not peer reviewed.