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Early American History: Is the journal peer reviewed/scholarly?

Guide to resources for Early American history research- Originally created for Dr. Shannon Duffy's history classes

Introduction

There are two major types of periodical: scholarly or popular.

Popular periodicals are the kind you would buy to read for fun. They may have some value for research, depending on the topic, but they are usually not the preferred type of resource for research papers.

Scholarly periodicals are written for and by people who work in academics: professors, researchers, undergraduate or graduate students. This type of article is best suited for your research because it is reliable and authoritative.

Types of Periodicals

Scholarly journals Popular magazines
Authors Articles are written by authorities in the field Articles are usually written by professional writers or journalists
Sources Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies There are rarely bibliographies
Audience Aimed at scholarly readers (researchers, professors, or students) Aimed at general population
Publisher Often published by academic or association presses Published by commercial (for profit) presses
Advertisements Contains few to no advertisements Contain numerous advertisements
Peer-review? Most articles are reviewed by an author’s peers before publication to ensure high quality Rare
Article scope Journals usually have a narrow subject focus, and articles often include original research, reviews, or essays Used to inform, update, or introduce a topic to a general reader
Graphics Illustrations often consist of charts or graphs Numerous colorful illustrations and/or photographs are usually present
Language Articles use jargon of the discipline Language is geared to general population; no special knowledge is required
Examples American Journal of Botany, The Academy of Management Journal, Social Research Runner's World, Ebony, Time

How to limit search results

Some of the library's online databases, such as Academic Search Complete and others have a feature that allows you to click in a checkmark box to find articles from peer-reviewed journals. This should weed out articles from magazines, newspapers, and non-peer-reviewed journals. 

When you use a database, look for this option on the search screen (usually it's somewhere below the search box), or look for it in the filtering options on the side of the page after you've done your search. For example:

Option to limit search to peer reviewed journal articles in the Academic Search Complete database

 

NOTE:  Not everything published in a peer reviewed journal is a peer reviewed article.  Peer reviewed journals typically include letters to the editor, commentaries or book reviews.  These are not considered peer reviewed articles.  Look carefully at the articles in your list of results to make sure they have the criteria for a scholarly article.  

Check Publication Titles In Ulrich's Periodical Directory

If you have a journal and you need to check if it is peer reviewed, use the Ulrich's Periodical Directory database.

Two screenshots of the Ulrichs Web database. The screenshot on the left shows a search for the Peabody Journal of Education. The screenshot on the right shows information about the journal with the line "Refereed: Yes" highlighted.

Enter the name of the journal in the search bar, then look for the little referee's jersey icon or the line that says "Refereed: Yes." "Refereed" is just another way of saying "peer reviewed," so if you see either or both of those things, your journal is peer reviewed.

If you don't see the icon or if the description of the journal says "Refereed: No," that journal is not peer reviewed.