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ES206 - Foundations of Health, Fitness, and Recreation: Peer Review

A research guide for students in ES206.


Most of us are familiar with publications like Time, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, or Rolling Stone, but what makes these popular magazines different than more scholarly sources?  This page will help you understand the difference between different types of periodicals, the peer-review process, and how to go about reading more scholarly sources.

What is Peer Review?

Not sure what your professor means by "peer-reviewed article"?  This quick video (3:15) from North Carolina State University libraries should help sort things out.




Features of Scholarly Articles

When trying to judge whether an article is peer-reviewed/scholarly, look for these features:

  • Authors with credentials and/or affiliations listed (e.g., Ph.D., M.A., University of Illinois, etc.)
  • Abstract (summary) at beginning of article (& look for keywords in abstract such as: research, study, experiment)
  • A works cited/references list/bibliography at the end of the article, or footnotes/endnotes
  • Article is divided into sections such as: Introduction, Background, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion
  • Article has charts, graphs, or tables

Databases such as SPORTDiscus and Academic Search Complete will also provide information about the publication. Look for icons such as "Academic Journal" (below, left) instead of "Periodical" (below, right, which is the term these databases use for magazines):

Screen shot of Academic Journal icon   Screen shot of Periodical icon

Also, look below the search boxes in online databases for a "Peer Reviewed" limit. Check the box to ensure results are from peer-reviewed journals:

Screen shot of Peer Reviewed limit

Tips for Reading Scientific Articles

Sometimes reading and understanding peer-reviewed research is more difficult than finding it.  Check out these links for tips on how to better read and understand scholarly articles.

Source Selection

What kinds of sources do I need?

To select the best source for information, you first need to understand what the differences are among the various kinds of sources that provide us information. By doing so, you will be better able to zero in on the kind of information you are looking for and maximize your search time.

Information Source   Information Need Publication Frequency Intended Audience Weakness


clipart of a book

Background information. Historical information. Statistics. Bibliography of other sources. Varies. Books may take up to 2 years to be published. General public to experts. Information may be dated.


Time magazine cover

Current Information. Short articles, easy to understand. Photographs and illustrations. Weekly, biweekly, or monthly. General public. Authors may not be experts. Lack of depth. Sources not cited.

Trade Publications

cover of a trade journal

Specialized information related to a particular field. Medium length articles. Brief bibliographies. Weekly, biweekly, or monthly Those interested in a particular subject area and professionals in the area. Geared towards those with some understanding of the field.

Scholarly Journals

cover of a scholarly journal


In depth information, written by experts. Bibliography of other sources. Charts and graphs. Recent research on a topic. Monthly, quarterly, or biannually. Professionals in a field. May be difficult to understand.


Chicago Tribune logo

Current information. Daily or weekly. General public. Authors usually not experts.


Google logo


Statistics. Varied points of view on a topic. Company websites. May be updated continuously. Check for update date. General public. Need to carefully verify credibility/accuracy.