Evaluating Information

How to evaluate information, from social media to scholarly articles.

Peer Review FAQs

What does "peer-reviewed" mean?

  • If an article has been peer-reviewed before being published, it means that the article has been read by other people in the same field of study ("peers").
  • The author's reviewers have commented on the article, not only noting typos and possible errors, but also giving a judgment about whether or not the article should be published by the journal to which it was submitted.

How do I find "peer-reviewed" materials?

  • Most of the the research articles in scholarly journals are peer-reviewed.
  • Some databases allow you to check a box that says "peer-reviewed," or to see which results in your list of results are from peer-reviewed sources. Some of the databases that provide this are Academic Search Ultimate, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Sociological Abstracts.

What kinds of materials are *not* peer-reviewed?

  • open web pages
  • most newspapers, newsletters, and news items in journals
  • letters to the editor
  • editorials
  • press releases
  • columns and blogs
  • book reviews
  • preprints
  • anything in a popular magazine (e.g., Time, Newsweek, Glamour, Men's Health)

If a piece of information wasn't peer-reviewed, does that mean that I can't trust it at all?

  • No, not at all; some non-peer-reviewed information *is* trustworthy. For example, technical reports, doctoral dissertations, and the databases and web pages produced by U.S. government entities (e.g., National Library of Medicine, Department of Energy) and others such as the Smithsonian Institution and the American Cancer Society.