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Health Promotion, Education and Behavior: Peer-Reviewed Articles

Resources for students and faculty in the Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, the Arnold School of Public Health.

About Peer-Reviewed Articles

What are peer-reviewed articles?

Peer-reviewed articles are journal articles that have been written by scholars and reviewed by their academic peers.  After a researcher writes an article, he/she submits the article to a journal for possible publication.  The journal editor identifies other scholars in the field and sends the article to the reviewers for evaluation.  The peer reviewers provide feedback to the author and editor.  Some articles are revised; others are rejected for publication.  The process of peer review helps to ensure that quality articles are published.

How do you find them?

Databases are a great place to find peer-reviewed articles.  Some databases have a box to check to limit your search to journals which include peer-reviewed articles.  A public health database that has a peer-reviewed check box is CINAHL Complete.  In the database, enter your search terms in the search box.  Check the box beside "Peer Review" and click search.

If you check "Peer Reviewed" does that guarantee the article is peer-reviewed?

No, the "Peer Review" box is not a guarantee that the article is peer-reviewed.  Although that journal should include peer-reviewed articles, it may also include articles are not peer-reviewed.  Letters to the editor, book reviews, and news briefs are generally not peer-reviewed.


If the dabates does not have a check box for peer-reviewed sorucese, what should I do?

If your database does not have a box to check, take a good look at the article.  There are a few signs that an article is either scholarly or popular.  Popular sources are not peer-reviewed.  Most scholarly articles are peer-reviewed but not all.  Look at...

Scholarly    Popular
  • Author's credentials (MD, PhD, DNP)
  • Author's affiliations  (university)
  • No author provided
  • Written by staff reporter
  • Contains an abstract   
  • Does not contain an abstract
  • Written for researchers and scholars
  • Contains technical language   
  • Written for the general population
  • Uses common words
  • May contain scientific tables and graphs
  • May include research methodology sections
  • Usually longer in length
  • May contain glossy photographs
  • Usually shorter in length
  • Citations provided      
  • No citations provided

Is information on the CDC website a peer-reviewed source?

No, websites are not peer-reviewed journal articles.  Many websites have credible information but using these sources will not fulfill an assignment's requirement for peer-reviewed journal articles.  Do not confuse online journals with government and organizational websites.

Can Google Scholar locate peer-reviewed articles?

Yes, Google Scholar can help you locate peer-reviewed journal articles.  Like databases, not all of the content retrieved in Google Scholar is peer-reviewed. Remember, books and book chapters are not considered peer-reviewed journal articles.  Take a close look at the type of source retrieved from Google Scholar and carefully evaluate its contents.

If you have questions, don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian.