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Understanding Journals: Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly, & Popular

What is the difference?

Peer-Reviewed Journals

When it comes to scholarly journals, the terms peer-reviewed and refereed are interchangeable. Before publication, peer-reviewed/refereed journals go through a highly critical and rigorous review process by other scholars in the author's field or specialty. This review process ensures that the content being published is first being evaluated by the author's peers and also, reflect a solid scholarship in the their fields of study.

Scholarly Journals

Although peer-reviewed journals are always scholarly in nature, scholarly journals are not always peer-reviewed.  

Scholarly journals are research focused, reporting results of original research and experimentation. They are heavily cited in the form of either footnotes or bibliographies, and written by, and addressed to, experts in a discipline. However, whereas peer-reviewed journals require a strict "peer-approval" for publishing, a scholarly journal that is not peer-reviewed only requires the approval of an editorial board.

Identifying Peer-reviewed Journals

The quickest and easiest way to identify if a journal is peer-reviewed is to look it up in Ulrichsweb, a database that provides bibliographic and publisher information on all types of serials (journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.).

Upon entering your search, look for a referee’s jersey icon () next to the journal’s title on the search results screen.  The referee jersey icon indicates that this journal is refereed/peer-reviewed.


Please note that Ulrichsweb only provides bibliographic information, and will not lead you to the full text of any articles.