A journal may be peer-reviewed, but that doesn’t mean that all information in that journal is actually refereed, or reviewed. For example, editorials, letters to the editor, or book reviews aren’t peer-reviewed parts of the journal.
Use the hints below to get you started.
How do you determine if it’s a peer-reviewed journal article?
Finding peer-reviewed articles:
1. Limit your database search to peer-reviewed journals only. Some databases, such as Academic Search Complete and other Ebsco databases have this feature on the initial search screen.
2. Check Ulrichsweb (on the Databases’ list) to determine if the journal is indicated as being peer-reviewed.
3. Review the journal’s publication details to see if it is peer-reviewed. If you can PHYSICALLY look at the journal, information in the About or Submission sections will provide details on the editorial review process. If the journal is only available online, look at the details provided within the database about publication. Academic Search provides a link and provides publication details, including scope and type of journal, including whether it is peer-reviewed.
4. Look at the official Web site of the journal on the Web. Check About or Submission Guidelines to see if it states that the journal is peer-reviewed. Don’t just look at web pages about the journal – go to the publisher’s web page for the most accurate information.
[adapted from http://www.angelo.edu/services/library/handouts/peerrev.php]
The basic rules for evaluating a source for quality are the same as the "5 W's" of journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why.
Who produced the document, image, video, sound file, etc. and what do you know about them, their credentials, and their motives?
What is the factual or emotional content of the source and does it reflect reality?
When was it produced and does that time frame alter its potential usefulness?
Where was it published and does that publisher evaluate sources before publishing them? Does the place of publication reflect on the competence or impartiality of the source? Is this a republication and, if so, where was it originally published?
Why was the item produced and published? To educate? To influence? To sell something? To promote the creator?