How can I determine if a journal is peer reviewed?

To determine if a journal is peer reviewed (also sometimes called refereed journals), try these steps:

  1. Look up the journal in the UlrichsWeb.com (available on the A-Z Database List). Go into the UlrichsWeb.com database and use the search box to search for the title or ISSN number of the journal (e.g. Harvard Law Review). Once you find the journal you are interested in, check the “Basic Description” or other available information about the journal to determine if it is peer reviewed (UlrichsWeb.com usually calls peer reviewed journals “refereed”):
    UlrichsWeb.com Basic Description Screenshot

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    Ulrichsweb.com may also provide you with information about the content in the journal (e.g. “Academic/Scholarly”), a description, and the publisher’s website. These can be helpful if you want to determine if a journal is scholarly, even if it’s not peer reviewed (all peer reviewed journals are scholarly but not all scholarly journals are peer reviewed).

  2. Another way to determine if a journal is peer reviewed is to examine the information about the publication. Some databases provide information about the journal that you can look up, sometimes by clicking on the title of the journal after you find an article or via a journal description. For example, if you find an article in an EBSCO database you can usually click on the title of the journal to find details about the publication, including whether the journal is peer reviewed:
    EBSCO Detailed Record Screenshot

    EBSCO Information About Publication Screenshot

    The publication details may also provide you with information about the publication type (e.g. “Academic Journal”), a description, and the publisher’s website. These can be helpful if you want to determine if a journal is scholarly, even if it’s not peer reviewed.

    If information about the journal is not available via a database, you may need to look up information about the journal elsewhere online. One of the best places to look online for confirmation of whether or not a journal is peer reviewed is on the publisher’s website. Regardless, make sure to evaluate any web resources you use to look up a journal to ensure that the information you find is accurate.

Finally, if you need to use sources from peer reviewed journals, you may want to try using limiters. Some of the library’s databases allow users to limit search results to articles that are published in peer reviewed journals. This will go a long way towards helping you find peer reviewed journals but can be imperfect, so you should always still evaluate articles you find to ensure that they are considered scholarly.

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