What is Peer-Review?
Peer-Review (sometimes also called Refereeing) is a process any author must go through if they wish to have their research published in a scholarly journal. The reviewers will all be experts in the same field, and to protect both parties, the author does not know the names of anybody reviewing their research, nor does the review panel know the name of the author(s).
The job of the reviewers is to ensure that the author has not made any unsubstantiated claims, and that his or her research has been thoroughly done. At the end of the process, the review panel may decide to recommend the article for publishing, return it to the author with comments for revision/editing, or reject it altogether.
A peer-reviewed, scholarly article will always contain, at minimum, a Bibliographic section at the end of the paper. Most modern publications will also contain sections for an Abstract, Literature Review, Methodology, Analysis, Conclusion, and some type of Appendix (for charts/graphs and other data).
A peer-reviewed, scholarly article will always have been reviewed by a panel of experts.
Articles in popular journals, magazines, and newspapers may only require the approval of an editor. These should not be relied upon as scholarly works.
Books should be evaluated on the merits of the author before deciding whether or not to use them in your research. Do a simple search for the author(s) to see what else they’ve written and if they’ve been involved in previous scholarly works. Your professor may also not accept books as peer-reviewed resources so always consult with them before proceeding.
Finding Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
The easiest way to make sure you're only finding articles which have undergone the peer-review process is to use the Library databases. Some databases only contain peer-reviewed material while others contain a variety of information. For example, EBSCOHost databases contain newspaper articles, editorials, and reviews in addition to scholarly materials. Limiting your search results to those which only come from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals is essential to filtering out unwanted results.
On the main page, prior to starting your search, you can limit your search to scholarly articles by checking the box in the 'Search Option' area
If you've already started your search, you can limit your results to scholarly articles by checking the box in the 'Limit To' area on the sidebar (you may have to click on the heading to expand 'Limit To' box).