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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Forensic science: What is peer review?

A guide to finding (mostly published) information in forensic science. By Ellen Sexton.

peer review    Evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field.

The peer review process

This image is from:   Peer review: The nuts and bolts.  A guide for early career researchers.  Creative Commons license.

Features of a Peer-Reviewed Article

When you are determining whether or not the article you found is a peer-reviewed article, you should consider the following.

Does the article have the following features?

Image of the first page of a peer-reviewed article. These items are highlighted: Been published in a scholarly journal.   An overall serious, thoughtful tone.   More than 10 pages in length (usually, but not always).   An abstract (summary) on the first page.  Organization by headings such as Introduction, Literature Review, and Conclusion.  Citations throughout and a bibliography or reference list at the end.  Credentialed authors, usually affiliated with a research institute or university.

 

Also consider...

  • Is the journal in which you found the article published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society, professional association, or university academic department? Does it describe itself as a peer-reviewed publication? (To know that, check the journal's website). 
  • Did you find a citation for it in one of the  databases that includes scholarly publications? (Academic Search Complete, PsycINFO, etc.)?  Read the database description to see if it includes scholarly publications.
  • In the database, did you limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed publications? (See video tutorial below for a demonstration.)
  • Is the topic of the article narrowly focused and explored in depth?
  • Is the article based on either original research or authorities in the field (as opposed to personal opinion)?
  • Is the article written for readers with some prior knowledge of the subject?
  • If your field is social or natural science, is the article divided into sections with headings such as those listed below?
  • Introduction
  • Theory or Background
  • Methods
  • Discussion
  • Literature review
  • Subjects
  • Results
  • Conclusion

 

FInding peer reviewed articles

Many library databases let you limit your search results to peer reviewed articles, e.g. on the EBSCOHost platform:

 

In OneSearch, you can filter your results:

 

In some academic literature databases, e.g. SCOPUS, most of the articles are peer reviewed, although they are not explicitly labeled as such:

For more about peer review...

For more about peer review, see

Peer review in three minutes.  Video from NCSU Libraries. With dinosaurs.

I don't know what to believe: Making sense of science stories.    From the Sense about Science group.

Meet science: What is peer review?  From Maggie Koerth-Baker the science editor at BoingBoing.net

Peer review; The 'least worst' barrier to bad science. September 26, 2017

Peer review: The nuts and bolts.  A guide for early career researchers from Sense about Science.

Peer review - short videos

Often students need to find "peer reviewed" articles. What is peer review? Why is it important? (from North Carolina State U)
Professor Christopher Jackson, geologist at Imperial College, London, tells us why peer review is important, and what quality peer review looks like.
Journal editor Craig Lincoln tells us peer review is important because credibility is important.