How do I find peer-reviewed articles?

2016-02-08 18:40

What are peer-reviewed resources?

Professors will sometimes use different phrases to talk about them and they all mean the same thing. They might ask for:

  • Scholarly articles
  • Academic articles
  • Peer-reviewed articles
  • Refereed journal articles

Your professor wants you to find articles from scholarly journals written by experts. Some qualities of these include:

  • The journal is published only a few times a year.
  • Expert researchers write the articles, usually having done research for years on the topic.
  • Journals tend to focus on a particular topic or discipline. Examples of academic journals include: The Journal of Australian Dairy Science, American TheatreJournal of Marriage and Children.
  • Other experts in the field review the articles to make sure the research is valid. That's why they are called peer-reviewed.
  • The articles give the name of the authors and their credentials (why we should trust them).
  • Journals don't have ads like magazines and newspapers, so they are freer of bias to advertisers.
  • Journals don't have a lot of pictures, but do have graphs, charts, maps, etc.

How to find peer-reviewed articles EASILY in the library catalog

  • Start out at the Hedberg Library homepage.
  • Click on “Advanced Search," which provides more options to bring back a more focused search.
  • Enter keywords based on the subject of your search in the box labeled "keyword."
  • On this screen, you can tell the catalog to only search for peer-reviewed articled by clicking the box next to "Only return peer-reviewed articles" under the "Popular Limits" heading. 
  • Click “Search."


  • Google has trained us to look only at the first few results and judge them. Library catalogs don't function that way. Sometimes the best stuff is on the second, third, or even fourth page of results.
  • If you got tons of results, consider going back to the “Advanced Search” page and add another keyword.
  • Try multiple searches: You'll need to think of as many variations for your keywords as possible. Try different combinations of keywords, too. Each set of keywords will bring back different results.
  • Keep track of the keywords and searches you run so you don't duplicate work.
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