What is Peer Review?
You can think of peer review as a "stamp of approval" from academic experts. When an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, you can be certain that experts in the relevant field have read it and, independent of their own particular opinions, verified it to meet a high standard of scholarship.
Scholars rely on peer review to ensure that the scholarship they exchange with each other is always based in good research and the established standards of their discipline.
The peer review system is similar to quality control systems that you see in everyday life. Just as you might be reassured to see a Health Department certificate in the window of a restaurant or a "Verisign" logo on a website that requires you to enter sensitive information, the peer-review system provides an efficient standard of trustworthiness in academic scholarship.
What is "High Standard of Scholarship"?
If an article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or by a reputable book publisher (such as a university press), you can assume that:
- it doesn't completely duplicate work that has already been done by other scholars.
- it presents a worthwhile approach to the topic.
- it exists as part of a standing conversation on the topic, as represented by its citations to other scholarship.
- it meets the above criteria and other standards of the discipline, as generally agreed upon by professional scholars in the discipline.