Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Many scholarly journals are considered peer reviewed.  Prior to publishing an articled in a peer-reviewed journal, the article is sent to a group of editors or scholars in the field and is reviewed.  The reviewers evaluate the methodology, research design, etc of the article prior to approving it for publication.


Determining if a journal is peer-reviewed

Many databases including PsycINFO and Social Services Abstracts provide the ability to ask that the results of a search come from peer-reviewed or refereed journals. Usually there is a check box on the search screen page which will guarantee that results come from peer-reviewed journals.

Some databases, as well as Google Scholar, do not indicate whether a journal is peer reviewed. There is no way to include "peer reviewed" in your search strategy.

In order to determine if an article that you retrieve from Social Work Abstracts Plus comes from a peer-reviewed journal, you can use the database Ulrich's Periodicals Directory.  It is listed under Databases on the USF Libraries website. In order to find the database from the Libraries website, go to Databases by Title and click the letter "U".  There is also a link at the bottom of this section.

Use the Quick Search in Ulrich's and put in either title keywords for the journal or the exact title.  An exact title, for example. would be Child Abuse and Neglect.

Click search. The results will display journals that match or are close to that title.  Select the correct title.  Information about the journal will display and one of the items will be Refereed, yes or no.

Identifying empirical research articles

What is an empirical study?

Empirical studies involve original objective observation or experimentation, and the results are often published in peer-reviewed journals.  Peer-reviewed journals have experts from the field select and review articles prior to their publication.


Components of empirical research

When examining a journal article, look for the following components:

  • Problem/questions
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Data Sources
  • Data Collection
  • Results
  • Discussion

Abstracts of empirical articles usually contain

  • a description of the problem being investigated
  • sample size and participant characteristics
  • methodology of the study
  • summary of the study findings

Types of Journal Articles