CH 1010: Chemical Properties, Bonding, and Forces

Peer-Reviewed Journals

What are "peer-reviewed" journals?

A peer-reviewed journal is a respected academic publication. Before articles are published within these types of journals, they are sent by the editors of the journal to other scholars in the field ("peers"), often anonymously, to get feedback on the quality of the scholarship, review research methods, as well as relevance or importance to the field. The article may be accepted, often with revisions suggested, or rejected for publication.  

Peer-reviewed journals are highly respected, and researchers wish to have their works published in them. Many often have low acceptance rates. 

One way to find peer reviewed articles is to type your keywords into WPI Library Search, and then choose the filter for Peer-Reviewed Journals. You can also search our Chemistry Databases for peer-reviewed articles. 

Primary vs. Secondary Literature

Academic journals publish primary and secondary articles.

An original article, also called an primary article, presents original research done by the author(s). These articles usually contain a methods section detailing the experimental processes, a results section, and a discussion section. 

A review article, also called a secondary article, presents an overview of the current state of the research on a particular topic. A review article summarizes and examines original research articles on a topic and draws conclusions from that body of work. If you find a review article, look at the references to find original articles on that topic. 

Evaluating Information

When you find a new source of information (such as an online article, a news story, a scholarly journal article, or a book), ask yourself the following questions about the source: 

Who?

Who is the author, editor, or creator? Is the author qualified to write about this topic?

What?

What type of document is it? For example, is it a newspaper article? A blog? A government website? A scholarly article? A book?

What is it about?

When?

When was this source published? Is the information up-to-date? 

Where?

Where did you find the source? A library database? A website?

For websites, what is the URL ending? For example, .com? .gov? .org? .edu?

Why?

What was the goal of the author or publisher? Is there bias?

How?

How did the author gather data and information? Did the author include citations? Did the author derive reasonable conclusions from the research?

The answers to these questions will help you to answer the big picture questions about the source:

  • Credibility: Is the source reliable?  
  • Relevance: Does the source suit your research needs?