Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

EUREKA!: Mellon College of Science First-Year Experience: Peer-Review

The EUREKA! course guide for 2020

The Purpose and Process of Peer-Review

Video from NCSU Libraries: Peer Review in 3 Minutes.

The primary purpose of peer-review is to ensure that scholarly work is vetted by experts in the field.

  • For authors, peer-review is a way to receive feedback from peers, improve the clarity and accuracy of their work, and give their work a mark of quality or respectability.  
  • For readers, peer-review can act as a filter that allows one to find information of a high quality. 

What Peer-Reviewers Look For and Don't Look For

Peer-reviewers ask questions that are related to the quality of the work, such as:

  • Is the writing clear?
  • Are the figures interpretable?
  • Is the methodology sound?
  • Were the appropriate statistical tests used?
  • Are the conclusions accurate?


Some journals are more selective and also require that the work be novel or innovative. In those cases, peer reviewers will also assess the work for these additional factors.

Peer-reviewers do not assess the credentials of the authors, including:

  • the institution that the authors are affiliated with
  • whether the authors have a PhD
  • the previous publication record of the authors

Finding Peer-Reviewed Journals

Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • Determine whether the journal is peer-reviewed 
  • Determine the article type (not all articles in a peer-reviewed journal are actually peer-reviewed):
    • Primary research articles and review are often peer-reviewed
    • Opinion pieces, book reviews, and news articles are not
  • Look for a series of dates at the beginning or end of a research paper that indicate when the article was submitted and accepted - these usually indicate that an article went through a peer-review process