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NS 205: Embedding information literacy into a nursing informatics course: Find Peer Reviewed Articles Evaluation Criteria

What is a Peer Reviewed Journal?

Peer-Reviewed (Refereed) Journals focus on a specific discipline or field and are edited by a jury of experts or scholars in that field. Editorial boards review each article submitted to the journal, publishing only those that abide by professional research standards in the given discipline. Think of articles in peer-reviewed journals as those that have been given the "stamp of approval" by experts in that discipline.

Main Purpose / Intent:
To inform other scholars and researchers about original research and new discoveries.


  • Authors are scholars and researchers in the field, and are typically not paid for publishing the article.
  • Always cite their sources / provide references.
  • Author’s affiliations are clearly identified, and are usually with academic, research, and non-profit institutions.
  • There is almost always an abstract or descriptive summary at the beginning of the article.
  • The articles are written in language that assumes the audience has expertise or familiarity with the given subject area.
  • There are not very many photographs; typically the illustrations are charts, graphs, or other visual evidence that relates to the discussion.
  • Usually there are no advertisements in the journal, and if there are any, there are very few and they are for products or equipment specific to the particular field or discipline.

JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association
Chemical Engineering Communications
Theoretical and Applied Climatology
American Economic Review
Nineteenth-Century Literature
Educational Research

Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

Most databases offer a way to limit your search to "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" journals. CINAHL has a limit to peer-reviewed. PubMed does not have this limit.

How do I know if an article is peer-reviewed?

1. Ask a Librarian to help you! 

2. Check the Ulrichs database. Look for the  Refeered icon (for refeered) next to the title in the search results.

3. Look for an "instructions for authors" area on the journal's website, where they will likely indicate if the publication has a peer-review process.

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria to always keep in mind when evaluating information. These criteria can be applied to information both online and in print.


Who wrote it? What are their credentials or affiliations?


Who is it written for? What kind of language is used?


What is the purpose? To inform? Sell? Sway your opinion?


Is the information presented objectively?


When was it published or written?


How relevant is it to your topic?


Is the information either too specific or too general for your purposes?