So, what is "peer-review"? This phrase refers to a quality-control process used by many academic journals.  Authors who are doing research submit a paper they have written to a journal. The journal editor then sends the article to the author's peers (researchers and scholars who are in the same discipline) for review. The reviewers determine if the article should be published based on the quality of the research. They evaluate this quality based on a number of factors, including:

  • Did the researchers use appropriate methods?
  • Is the research question important?
  • Is the data valid?
  • Are the authors' conclusions reasonable, based on the data?
  • Is the research original - does it add to our knowledge of the topic?

They do not repeat the experiment or study to see if the results were accurate. This process is important because it validates the research and gives it a sort of "seal of approval" from others in the research community.

Watch this video for a more in-depth overview of how peer review works (NCSU) (5:11 min.)