You’re in college now and there’s an expectation to make good use of the all of the resources you have available to you. One of the main types of resources you’ll find professors ask you to use are peer-reviewed articles. Peer-reviewed articles, also called refereed articles, are those articles that are published within academic journals after they’ve been rigorously reviewed by other scholars in the same field. The idea behind the peer-review process is to bring experts in a particular field together to enter into a critical dialogue by analyzing the content, theories and research of each other’s articles. This dialogue is then used as a spring board to build new ideas and conversations.
If you’ve ever watched a contestant get reviewed by panelists on Top Chef, Dancing With the Stars, American Idol or Project Runway, you’ve seen a peer-review in progress! Check out this video to find out more:
So why use a peer-reviewed journal? Because you’re writing as a new scholar in the field, your professors want you to enter into the dialogue of the literature of that field and peer-reviewed journal articles are the best place to find that conversation happening — outside of class, of course.
Okay, now that you know what they are and why you would use them, where can you find them? More often than not, scholarly journals are available only by subscription, much like any other magazine you might pick up at the convenience store. Since academic journals can be expensive, the Libraries subscribe to those articles for you and you can access most of our journals online through our library databases. Search for your topic using specific keywords and you’ll soon immerse yourself in a world of scholarship. Alternately, you can access many peer-reviewed articles via Google Scholar, too!