So your instructor has told you to find peer-reviewed articles for a paper? Don't panic! This guide will explain what peer-reviewed sources are, and offer some tips on how to find them.
Knowing what peer review is will make it easier to evaluate these sources. Basically, peer review is a way of making sure that an article adds to a scholarly conversation - that it contains new and useful information and arguments, and stands up to questions from other scholars within the discipline. Using peer-reviewed sources for your work makes it easier to be sure that the information you're using is reliable.
A peer-reviewed article will typically be read by other experts within the discipline to make sure it meets these standards. Generally, a scholarly journal (like American Historical Review) will be peer-reviewed. A magazine (like People or Time) will not be peer-reviewed.
Luckily for you, many databases offer an option to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. This guide explains how to do this in several popular databases.
But if you're not sure whether an article you want to use is peer-reviewed - for example, if you find a citation for an article that you'd like to use in a book's bibliography - an easy way to find out is to use Ulrich's Periodical Directory. The call number is 070.5 UL7 in our reference books. Peer-reviewed journals will be listed there as Refereed. If you're still not sure, please ask a reference librarian for help!