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Nursing Resources : Peer Reviewed Articles

How to Find or Identify a Peer Reviewed Article?

What does it mean to be peer reviewed?

Articles that appear in peer reviewed journals have been examined by professionals in the field before publication.  For example, an article published in the Journal of Marriage and Family are reviewed by sociologists who focus on family research.  They make sure that the methodology is sound and the results are significant before the article is actually published.  

Where are peer reviewed articles found?

The easiest way to locate peer reviewed articles is by searching article databases, e.g., PubMed, CINAHL or PsycINFO to name a few.  In most databases, there is an option to limit to peer reviewed articles only in the result list. PubMed does not have this option, however, so use the steps above to analyze your articles.  Good news though, most journals in PubMed are peer reviewed journals, be careful though, not everything within them are peer reviewed!  

What is the difference between scholarly, trade or popular journals?

Below is a chart that will help you differentiate between Scholarly Journals, Trade Journals, and Popular Magazines.

Evaluation Criteria

Scholarly Journal

Technical/Trade Journal

Popular Magazine


Articles presenting original research studies.  Book reviews on relevant material to scholars in the field.

Practical information for professionals within a field:  current trends, news, and products.

Current events, hot topics, commentary on social issues & popular culture, book reviews, etc.


Technical language, longer article length, discipline specific.

Can use jargon & technical language, due to professional audience.

Simple language, shorter articles.


Experts in the field

Professionals/practitioners within the field, journalists with expertise in the subject area.



Professors, researchers, professionals, experts, students.

Professionals/practitioners within a particular field.

General populace


Extensive documentation, footnotes, bibliographies

Occasionally cite sources within the text.

Rarely cite sources.


To share research results and to expand knowledge base within the field.

To share news & current trends with professionals in the field.

Entertainment, general news reporting, summarizes general research.

What do they look like?

Include charts, formulas, graphs, few advertisements.  Overall serious appearance.

Include photos, graphs, charts, tables, illustrations, & advertising targeted to the field.

Colorful, glossy, many graphics, pictures, & advertisements.

Review process

Articles are evaluated by other experts within the field before publication to guarantee trustworthiness and validity.

Articles are reviewed by the publication’s editorial staff.  Some go through a peer review process:  please see specific publication’s website for details.

Articles are reviewed by magazine’s editorial staff for grammar & spelling.


Universities, scholarly presses, academic/research organizations.

Commercial publishers

Commercial publishers


 Cover of Journal of Advanced Nursing


Some table content adapted from Spring Hill College's What is a Scholarly Journal? 
Other information from