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Statistics 172: Statistics 1

Understanding the Scholarly Publication Process

What are scholarly articles?

In the sciences, many scholarly articles (also called peer-reviewed articles) include a description of a specific research study, the results of the study, and a discussion of the significance of these results. Other scholarly articles may provide a summary and analysis of all recently-published research on a given topic.


What is the peer-review process?

  1. Researchers write an article and submit it to a scholarly journal (also called a refereed journal or a peer-reviewed journal).
  2. The journal editors send the article to other expert researchers in the field, known as peer reviewers.
  3. The peer reviewers read the article and make a recommendation regarding whether the article is worthy of being published in the journal. They will consider factors such as the significance of the research findings and the quality of the scholarship. They will typically also suggest changes to improve the article.
  4. The journal editors decide whether to publish the article based on the peer reviewers' feedback. Often, they will ask the authors to make changes suggested by the peer reviewers before the article is re-considered for publication.

Be aware that not everything published in a scholarly journal is a peer-reviewed article. Scholarly journals also include book reviews, editorials, and other content that has not been peer-reviewed.

Identifying Peer-Reviewed Articles

Articles in Popular Magazines Articles in Trade Magazines Articles in Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals
Written by journalists or magazine staff Written by industry professionals or magazine staff Written by experts affiliated with a research institution (university, hospital, etc.)
Purpose is to inform, persuade, or entertain the general public Purpose is to communicate news to professionals in a specific industry (lawyers, filmmakers, etc.) Purpose is to communicate research findings to other experts
Use language understood by the general public Often use industry jargon Use precise, discipline-specific language
Do not include a formal bibliography, works cited, or references list May or may not include formal citations Always include a bibliography, works cited, and/or references list
Often include bright, colorful photos Often include bright, colorful photos Often display data in black-and-white charts/graphs
Evaluated for publication by a magazine editor Evaluated for publication by a magazine editor Have been evaluated and recommend for publication by other experts in the peer-review process
Popular magazines are often published weekly Trade publications are often published weekly or monthly Scholarly journals are often published monthly or quarterly