PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: What's a peer-reviewed journal?
Rose Guerrieri MLIS, RN

May 2012 
Volume 42  Number 5
Pages 46 - 49
  PDF Version Available!

PEER REVIEW, a hallmark of scholarly literature, is a process designed to present the best evidence for practice.1,2 Peer-reviewed journals may also be called refereed journals or juried journals. The peer-review process isn't specific to medicine and nursing; other disciplines and professions also use it in the publication process.This article describes the peer-review process, what sets peer-reviewed journals apart, and how to identify these journals.The purpose of peer review is to provide sound, up-to-date scientific information. With peer review, articles authored by specialists in a field are judged by their peers-other specialists in the field.When an author submits an article to a peer-reviewed journal, the journal editor asks several of the author's peers (sometimes called referees) to evaluate the article, not only for clarity of communication, but also for scientific validity. The process is "blind" (as discussed in detail below). In other words, the reviewers don't know who the author is and vice versa. The reviewers may recommend that the submitted article be published as is, returned to the author for revisions and then reconsidered for publication, or rejected for publication.3To summarize, here are the steps in the peer-review process: 1. An author writes an article to disseminate research or professional practice. 2. The author submits the article to a journal for publication. 3. Withholding the author's name, the journal editor sends the article to one or more peer reviewers for feedback. 4. The peer reviewers independently read and evaluate the article and recommend whether or not it should be published. To ensure objectivity, reviewers don't know who else is reviewing the article. 5. The journal editors also review the article and, based on their own judgment, knowledge of their readers' needs, and the recommendations of the peer reviewers, decide whether or not to publish it.4Not everything published in a peer-reviewed journal necessarily undergoes

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