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NS 205: Nursing Informatics

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What is Peer Review?

What is peer review?

The peer review process tries to ensure that only the highest quality research is published. When an article is submitted to a peer-reviewed (or refereed) journal, the editor sends it to be reviewed by other scholars (the author's peers) in the same field. These reviewers recommend that the editor reject the paper, accept the paper as is, or accept the paper with author revisions.  

Though trustworthy, peer review is not without flaws. The Retraction Watch blog tracks when published articles are withdrawn due to plagiarism, error, fraud, or other reasons.

How can I tell if a particular journal is peer reviewed or refereed?

Search the journal title in the Library’s Journal Titles list. If you don't find it there, search the journal title in Ulrichsweb (the referee’s jersey icon indicates that a title is peer-reviewed). You can also visit the journal’s website. If you have trouble, ask a librarian.

Has every article in a peer-reviewed journal been peer reviewed?

No. These types of articles don’t go through the peer review process.

  • book reviews
  • editorials
  • news
  • letters to the editor

Are scholarly articles the same as peer-reviewed articles?

Not exactly. All peer-reviewed articles are scholarly, but not all scholarly articles are peer-reviewed. For example, conference proceedings and technical reports are scholarly but not necessarily peer-reviewed.

Evaluating Sources

The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need. You may also wish to view the CRAAP Test video in the following box.


How recent is the information?

  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • Has it been published in the last x years? (x will vary, depending on your topic.)
  • If you have a historical research topic, was it published around the date of the original event?
  • ** Do the links work?
  • ** Has it been updated recently?


Does the information address your needs?

  • Are references or sources for data or quotations included?
  • Where does the information come from and does it apply to your topic?
  • Is it a primary or secondary source?


What is the source of the information?

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are their credentials and are they provided?
  • What is their reputation or expertise? Are they qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • ** What is the domain ending (e.g., .com, .org, .gov, .edu)?
  • ** Are there any advertisements or other distractions?


Is the information reliable, truthful, and correct?

  • Is it accurate? Is it supported by evidence?
  • Is the information balanced or biased?
  • Is it peer reviewed?
  • Can you verify the information from another reliable source?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?

Purpose / Point of View

Why does the information exist?

  • What is the purpose of the information?  Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Is it fact or opinion?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is this a first-hand account of an event or research?
  • If controversial, are all sides of the issue fairly represented?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • ** Could the site be ironic, like a satire or a spoof?

Modified from Evaluating Information: Applying the CRAAP Test (2010) by Meriam Library, California State University, Chico.

How do I locate peer-reviewed articles in CINAHL and PubMed?

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.