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HIST 150: Unlearning US History (Fall 2023)

Peer Review?

What IS "peer review" and why does it matter?

Peer review grows out of the 18th century Republic of Letters and the Royal Society, in which papers were submitted & reviewed by scholars before presentation and publication.

Now peer review is a process by which academic work is evaluated and improved before publication.

An article or book is submitted for review to an editor, who then sends it to 2 or 3 external reviewers, who in turn provide feedback and comments. They return the piece to the editor with notes, who then sends it back to the author. This process may repeat.  This process improves the quality of a work, but also means publication takes Years after the work is written.

Scholarly VS Peer Reviewed

Peer Reviewed: Academic books and articles written by a specialist, reviewed by other experts, and published by an academic press.
Examples: Articles in academic journals, some conference papers, books published  by university presses. 

Scholarly: A source written by an expert, but not subjected to the peer review process. 
Example: magazine articles (if written by expert), public presentations, reviews, opinion pieces.

Refereed: Academic work that has some level of vetting, usually by an editor or panel. 
Example: Conference papers, journal articles that are approved by an editor but not external reviewers.
NOTE: refereed is often used interchangeably with Peer Reviewed by databases, but it isn't always the same.

Popular: Written for a wide readership. May or may not be written by a subject expert.
Examples: newspaper or magazine, popular press books, websites.


Examples of non-peer reviewed scholarly works:

  • Encyclopedias
  • Lectures
  • Unpublished Theses & Dissertations
  • Podcasts
  • Opinion piece
  • Review articles
  • Self-published books and articles.

These resources can be a great starting point and can direct you toward useful materials, but they are not peer reviewed.

Examples of Peer Reviewed Material

NOTE: Book Review articles aren't peer reviewed

Book reviews often show up in the catalog as articles, but they are not peer reviewed articles.

They are very useful for finding and assessing books, but they aren't the same as a scholarly article.