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Resources for Psychology

Peer-Reviewed v. Popular Articles

What does "peer-reviewed" mean? What's the difference between a peer-reviewed, scholarly article and a popular article?

A peer-reviewed article is reviewed by subject experts before being approved for publication in order to ensure that it meets specific criteria and standards. Academic journals that use peer review in their selection process are generally considered to be of higher quality and more trustworthy than those that don’t use the peer review process.

Popular articles are found in sources intended for a general audience, and they are often available freely online. Examples include Time magazine, The New York Times and The Huffington Post.

When conducting academic research, your professors will often require you to use only scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles.

How do I find peer-reviewed articles?

You can find peer-reviewed articles by searching our databases. Most databases give you the option to select for peer-reviewed articles when conducting your search. Check the "Peer Reviewed" box to ensure all the articles in your search results come from peer-reviewed journals.

Evaluating Non Scholarly or Web-Based Sources

A resource can still be credible even if it isn't scholarly. There are several questions you can ask to determine whether a non-scholarly source or website is reliable and appropriate to use in your research.

  • Purpose: What is the purpose of the source? Is it to educate and inform, or to persuade?
  • Authority: Who is the author of the resource? What are her or his credentials?
  • Accuracy: Is the information presented factually accurate? Does the resource list or link to its sources?
  • Timeliness: How current is the information? When was it last updated?
  • Scope: Does the source present information in an overly simplistic way, or does it seem more deeply engaged with its subject matter?

Website Evaluator