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Scholarly Sources

What is a peer-reviewed article?

Some research assignments require the use of not just scholarly articles, but peer-reviewed scholarly articles. 

Many scholarly journals publish articles only after it has been through the process of peer review. This process involves the critiquing of a paper by multiple scholars who have expertise in the paper's subject. These scholars review the paper's scope, methodology, analysis and conclusions and provide the journal publisher with information that helps it decide whether to accept the paper, reject it or return it to the author for further revision. Some peer review processes emphasize originality, relevance and importance; others may emphasize technical and statistical accuracy.

In this way, peer review ensures that published articles present original, well-researched, insightful studies that advance knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Peer review also checks that an article has appropriate citations for all of the information that the author took from other sources. This enables the reader to look up those sources and verify this information and how the article interpreted it.

The process of peer review may take several months or even 1-2 years. Consequently, peer-reviewed articles may discuss events or research that happened a substantial amount of time previously. Peer-reviewed articles may not be the best type of source for recent events or breaking news.

Where to search

Can I find peer-reviewed articles with Google?

It's possible, but most scholarly articles are located behind paywalls in databases that Google cannot access. A growing number of scholarly articles are open access, but in a Google search they will be swamped by non-scholarly websites and blogs.

It is much easier to find scholarly articles in Google Scholar, which filters out non-scholarly websites and aggregates article titles from scholarly sources. However, while Google Scholar can identify article titles and sometimes abstracts, it cannot provide the full text of paywall-protected content.

Can I find peer-reviewed articles in Wikipedia?

Wikipedia, too, is not an appropriate or effective way to search for peer-reviewed articles. Wikipedia aims for accuracy and reliability, and it has a complex, multi-level system of editorial review. It also requires citations. However, its authors and editors have a high degree of anonymity and it is not possible to know the scholarly authority or expertise of these contributors. Also, it is not possible to be certain whether information on Wikipedia is waiting to be reviewed. Finally, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias are useful for overviews of a subject, but they contain only general or preliminary information, and normally avoid contentious conclusions.

Then where do I search?

The NVU Libraries subscribes to scholarly databases so NVU students, faculty and staff can access peer-reviewed articles on all subjects, without needing to deal with any paywalls.

  • If you are researching a general or program-specific topic, start with our Databases A-Z page
  • If you are finding very few articles on your topic, use the SearchNorth Platform to search nearly ALL of our print and electronic resources. 

Peer Review in 3 Minutes