Skip to Main Content

Nursing Library Orientation: 1b. Peer-reviewed vs Non-Peer Reviewed

An online library orientation for nursing students.

1b. All About Peer Review

One of the most basic questions we need to ask when looking at an information source in nursing is, "Is this article from a PEER-REVIEWED journal?" On this page, you will learn what peer-review is, how to identify a peer-reviewed article, and how to limit your results to peer-reviewed articles. 

What Is Peer Review?

Watch this brief video to learn what peer review is all about. 

Libnscu.  (2014, May 1).   Peer review in 3 minutes [Video].  YouTube.

Googling a journal title (such as the Journal of Advanced Nursing) and looking at the journal's "About" page will tell you if a journal is peer-reviewed. However, NOT every article in a peer-reviewed journal will be a research article. There are commentaries, opinion pieces, and other non-research articles included in these journals.

Watch the video below to learn how to identify a research article in a peer-reviewed journal.

Concordia University Library.  (2019, May 21).  How do I know if articles are scholarly or peer-reviewed? [Video]. YouTube.

Scholarly research articles (found in peer-reviewed journals) share a common structure and characteristics. What the video below and then click on "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article" to learn what the elements of a scholarly article are. 

Dinscore, A. (2013, August 16).  The anatomy of a scholarly article [Video]. YouTube.

Limiting your results to PEER-REVIEWED articles is key when searching library databases. Here is how to do this in each of the library databases: 

CINAHL: Check off "peer-reviewed" checkbox under "limit your results"

ProQuest: Check off "peer-reviewed" checkbox under the search box

Gale Academic OneFile: Check off the "peer-reviewed" checkbox below the search box

PubMed: Only peer-reviewed journals are indexed in this database, so you don't need this limiter

Nursing Reference Center: NOTE: This is NOT a peer-reviewed journal database

Google Scholar: NOTE: There is no way to limit to peer-reviewed journals--use with caution!