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RELG 3183 FF01 - Theology of Ministry I

Peer Review


Peer review, also known as refereed, is a process in which experts in related fields of study review and evaluate literature before it is published.  It is largely used with research journals to help ensure that published articles represent the best scholarship currently available. When an article is submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, the editors send it to other scholars in the same field (the author's peers) to get their opinion on the quality of the scholarship, its relevance to the field, its appropriateness for the journal, etc.

Publications that don't use peer review (Time, Discover, Newsweek, U.S. News) rely on the judgment of the editors as to whether an article is quality material or not. They are not as reliable because these journals do not rely on solid, scientific scholarship.

Note: This is an entirely different concept from "Review Articles."  Those are book reviews.


Often, you can tell just by looking. A scholarly journal is visibly different from magazines, but occasionally it can be hard to tell. If you want to be certain that a journal is peer reviewed, limit your searches to Peer Reviewed results. You can also search with Journal Search in OneSearch. Type the journal's title into the text box and search, and your results will provide a variety of information about the journal, including whether the journal contains articles that are peer reviewed.


You might find that resources provided by your library can be really helpful, and you can access many of these resources online through your library's website. 

Don't forget that our librarians are excellent resources!


Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

When conducting research it is important to distinguish between journal articles and magazine articles. Journal articles are typically referred to as "scholarly," while magazine articles are usually considered "popular".

CriteriaScholarly JournalPopular Magazine
Content In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication. Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform.
Author Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise. Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise.
Audience Scholars, researchers, and students. General public; the interested non-specialist.
Language Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area. Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers.
Graphics Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs. Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs.
Layout & Organization Structured; includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography. Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.
Accountability Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers* or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style. Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style.
References Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable. Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given.
Other Examples Annals of Mathematics, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, History of Education Quarterly, Almost anything with Journal in the title.

Time, Newsweek, The Nation, The Economist

This is a modified version of a document created by Amy VanScoy at NCSU Libraries.