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Nursing LRC Tools for Success: Peer Review

Nursing Students Guide for the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing Learning Resource Center

Peer Review in CINAHL

How to determine whether an article is peer-reviewed in CINAHL database:

In CINAHL, you can click on the blue title link of an article to view more details about the article.  On this page under journal subset, CINAHL lists the method of review for the article.  There are many kinds of peer review, as demonstrated below in the Peer Review Subject Guide section.  It will have Peer Reviewed as a subset if the article is peer-reviewed.

How to limit a search to peer-reviewed journals in CINAHL database:

To save some trouble in double-checking peer-review status, limit your search to only articles that are in peer-reviewed journals. 
To do this:
1. Click Show More under Limit to:
2. Check the box listed Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals

Just because an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal does not mean that each article is peer-reviewed.  Editorials, opinion pieces, news items, letters to the editor, meeting or poster abstracts, single-page articles, anecdotes and regular columns are examples of non-peer-reviewed content that show up in peer-reviewed journals.  Editorial reviewed or editorial board reviewed are not forms of peer review.

Not all databases have a peer reviewed or refereed filter. Google Scholar does not have one, either.

Peer Review Subject Guide

Definitions: Peer Review and Other Review Formats

Blind Review:

  • Single Blind - reviewer knows identity of author, but author does not know identity of reviewer;
  • Double Blind - neither the author nor the reviewer know the other's identity;
    • Reviewer isn't aware of the credentials/name of the author submitting the article;
    • Prevents reviewers from bringing personal bias to bear on their review

Editorial Review: (By Journal's Editors)

  • Article is reviewed by the editor(s) or an editorial board of the journal who may or may not have knowledge or expertise in the subject covered by the article;
  • Authorship is known to the reviewer;
  • Single editor, multiple editors, referees or peer reviewers;
  • Check for accuracy; proper method, style

Peer Review:

  • Journal article is submitted for rigorous impartial review by one or more experts prior to publication
  • Validating methodology; checking assumptions and procedures, corroborating results
  • Experts on a subject, chosen by the journal's editor, to check manuscript for accuracy and completeness, assuring that it meets the research standards of the discipline
  • Article is reviewed by others in the same field, with the same credentials; author's peers
  • Scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research
  • Forces author(s) to meet standards of their discipline
  • Process through which experts in a field of study examine and assess the quality of articles before they are published
  • Insures that the research described is sound and of high quality
  • Unbiased, independent critical assessment of manuscripts submitted to journals by experts who are not part of the editorial staff
  • Review done by peers, usually practitioners and/or academics in the field
  • Process in place for review of manuscripts by someone other than those employed by the publication


  • Synonymous with peer review;
  • An article which has been carefully reviewed and scrutinized by scholars or experts in the research topic who are not members of the editorial staff or editorial board;
  • Role of the referee is advisory; editor is under no formal obligation to accept the opinions of the referees;
  • In scientific publication the referees do not act as a group, do not communicate with each other, and typically are not aware of each other's identities;
  • Journal does not publish everything sent to it;
  • Outside reviewers who are not connected to the publication

Scholarly Academic:

  • Best to make the scholarly/non scholarly determination at the article level;
  • Journal that publishes primarily research articles that have gone through peer review process;
  • Describes an audience for journals - geared to university or research level community;
  • Articles tend to be long and use terms/jargon appropriate to field of study;
  • Includes references and/or original research;
  • Authored by academic for a target audience that is mainly academic; published by a recognized society with academic goals;
  • Articles are of research nature; documented, based on some type of study or empirical evidence;
  • Articles may include research, development, news, proceedings, or transactions in a particular field;
  • Article with footnotes and extensive bibliography may be treated as academic/scholarly;
  • Authors are experts;
  • Audience is the scholarly reader, such as professors, researchers, students;
  • Usually published by a scholarly publisher (like a university press);
  • May be reviewed or refereed before publication by an editorial board or outside scholars;
  • Author is a scholar/researcher/professor/expert in the field;
  • Research articles whose audience is primarily scholars/researchers/experts;
  • Aimed at professionals in the field who are interested in research about their profession.

Resources Defining Peer Review:

Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals (Meriam Library, California State University Chico)

Document Types in CINAHL: peer review definition

Peer Review Definition
(Search: Definition Peer Review)

Scholarly Journals versus Other Periodicals (Amarillo College Library)

Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication

What is a Refereed/Peer Reviewed Article (University Of North Florida)

Modified from website developed by the University of Missouri-St. Louis Libraries Used with permission July 17, 2012.

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