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Health Education Research Guide

Research guide for students in Health Education courses.

What are Peer-Reviewed Articles?

Scholarly journals are published by scholars -- people who have the highest college degree in their field -- or other scholars to read. Before the article is published, it undergoes a process of peer review, during which *other* scholar specialists (the author's peers) review the article and make suggestions for improvement. It's a strenuous process, so when something is published in a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, it is considered by college professors to be extremely reliable. Watch the video below on Understanding Peer Review.

Here are some clues/characteristics of peer-reviewed articles (but not all!)...

  • They have an abstract, a summary of the article at the beginning or in the details
  • They are very long in page number, often 5-40 pages
  • They have a long list of citations or references at the end of the paper.
  • They may include charts or graphs--no colorful advertisements or photographs.
  • They may have a DOI number (digital object identifier) assigned to them
  • They have section headings like...
    • Introduction [Strategic reading tip: Read this section to start!]
    • Methodology
    • Results
    • Discussion
    • Conclusion  [Strategic reading tip: Read this section to start!]

Types of Peer-Reviewed Articles

There are different types of peer-reviewed  (aka "refereed") articles: review articles and research articles.

  • Review Articles:

Review articles summarize the current state of understanding on a topic within a certain discipline. Review articles include meta-analyses and systematic reviews.

  •  Research Articles (aka Empirical Articles): 

Research articles are reports of research based on observation or experience conducted by the expert, student, professor, or researcher. Research articles may include lab experiments, interviews, or surveys. They usually have these sections: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References.

Important Note: 

Peer-reviewed journals also contain content that is not peer-reviewed. If your instructor requires you to use peer-reviewed articles, do not use these. Examples include: editorials, letters to the editor, and book reviews.

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