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Michigan State University

ANS 222: Introductory Beef Cattle Management: Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

This is a course guide for students interested in library resources and materials for Beef Cattle Management. Last updated: 4/4/17.

How to Check if a Journal is Peer-Reviewed

You can often check if a journal is peer-reviewed by visiting the publisher's website. The description of the journal will often contain the words "peer-reviewed" or "refereed". There may also be instructions for authors that describe the review process for submitted articles.

Using the Peer-Reviewed Limit in Databases

Many databases have an option to limit search results to only those that are peer-reviewed. However be aware that while these filters limit results to items that have been published in a peer-reviewed journal, it does not always mean every individual item has been peer-reviewed. Usually only original research articles are peer-reviewed; not items such as book reviews, commentary, letters, news, or opinions - these items may still show up in search results when a peer-review limit is used.

Ulrichs Web

The database Ulrichsweb can be used to quickly check if a journal is peer-reviewed, but remember it is just a tool and you should still examine the journal closely if you are not familiar with it.

Note: Only 5 simultaneous users are allowed at a time. If you are receiving an error message when trying to access Ulrichsweb, wait a few minutes and try again.

To check if a journal is peer-reviewed, enter the journal title (not the article title) in the search box. Click on the title from the results list and look for "Academic / Scholarly" in the Content Type field and "Yes" in the Refereed field. If there are a number of journals with a similar title you may need to use the ISSN number to find the correct one.

What does peer-reviewed mean?

Peer-reviewed articles, often called scholarly or refereed, are articles that are critiqued by impartial reviewers prior to publication. The reviewers are often anonymous and are considered experts in the field that the article/journal is published in. Reviewers are asked to judge the quality of the article by addressing the validity of the research, whether or not the methods chosen address the question(s) asked, and the accuracy of the data. If an article does not meet standards set by the journal it is usually sent back for revisions or is rejected for publication.

Some common characteristics of peer-reviewed articles are:

  • Publication in a journal published by a scholarly society, professional association, or academic press.
  • Based on original research or offer a critical analysis of research performed by authorities in the field.
  • Charts, diagrams, and/or tables showing data or results of experiments are included.
  • A list of references or sources is provided at the end.
  • Language used often contains specialized vocabulary and uses terms or concepts specific to a particular discipline or field of study.
  • Often highly structured and contains an abstract, introduction with literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.

An article that meets one or more of the above criteria is likely to be peer-reviewed, however non-peer-reviewed resources may also have some of these traits. One example common in the animal science discipline is extension publications - while scientific in nature these often do not go under reviewed before being published and disseminated.  

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