When a source has been peer-reviewed it has undergone a review by an editorial board of colleagues in the author's field.
They evaluate the source in relation to the body of research for a particular discipline and make recommendations regarding its publication in a journal, revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication.
Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced online encyclopedia. That means that Wikipedia entries are written by users who may be familiar with, but may not be experts on a particular topic. Wikipedia is not academic and is generally not a good source to reference in a scholarly work.
However, Wikipedia can be a useful place to start your research. At the bottom of every Wikipedia article there is a list of references used in the article. Often these references link to news articles, scholarly publications or scientific studies. Be sure to evaluate these sources using the criteria on this page!
Scholarly sources are written by experts in the field and are intended to keep others in the field updated about new studies, research findings and news. In a physical format, it is often easy to tell what is a scholarly source and what isn't.
Psychology Today is a popular magazine intended for a general audience. The American Journal of Psychology is a scholarly journal intended for professionals in the field of psychology.
Below, you will find some criteria to consider when evaluating resources.
When evaluating a source, consider the following:
Is the author's name included? What are their credentials? Are they writing in their field of study?
Is the publisher an academic institution or a professional organization? Is there a possible conflict of interests?
Who is the intended audience for the information? Is it for a general audience or an acadmic one?
What is the author's argument? Is it objective? Does the author cite scholarly sources? Are conclusions based on evidence? Are there pictures or graphs?
Is the publication date evident? Is the source current enough for your needs?
If the source is online, also consider:
Remember: .org and .com are unregulated! Look for .edu or .gov.