Skip to Main Content

Biology Courses & Research

Start here to find the research you need!

Peer-Review process

Peer-review is the process journal publishers use to choose high-quality research articles for publication. The journal editors ask a group of experts in a field to read articles that scientists have submitted to the journal. The experts read the articles, make comments or suggestions for edits and then make a final recommendation about whether they think the article is worthy of publication. If an article receives enough approval from the experts then it is published in the journal and qualifies as peer-reviewed.

Some journals use peer-review for all articles. Others use it only for some articles. Remember that even if a journal’s articles are entirely peer-reviewed there is content like book reviews, editorials and letters to the editor that are not peer-reviewed.

Use the peer-review limiter in databases to find articles. Use the Ulrich's Periodical's database to determine whether a publication is peer-reviewed.

Evaluation: Three questions

What is it? Why do I care? What does it really say?

You answer these three questions every time you use a source, whether you know it or not.

  • Whether it is a website or a scholarly journal article...
  • Whether it is for a 1st-year course or real life...

Start noticing how you answer these questions to ensure your sources are really meeting your needs.


The Three Questions:

  • What is it: What is the source type and author credibility?
    • Quick Wikipedia checks are okay! You can also compare what other source say about that source.
  • Why do I care: Does the source type and author credibility meet your needs?
    • Decide this at the beginning so you know whether to read the material or find something better.
  • What does it really say: Perceive how the word choices influence the knowledge.
    • The author's word choices, included and excluded information, and the aim of the publication all make a difference in how or why you would use a source.

Vogel Library, Wartburg College   |   100 Wartburg Blvd, Waverly, IA, 50677 |   Phone: 319-352-8500   | Email: