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FRIPS: Freshmen Research in Plant Sciences

What does peer-reviewed mean?

When you submit an article to a journal, someone has to determine if it's worth printing.  Peer review was developed as a way to screen articles and determine the quality of your article. 

At a peer reviewed journal, the editor sends your article out to several reviewers (usually three) who are in the same field, or "peers."  Generally, your name will be taken off of the article so personalities don't interfere with the process.  The reviewers read through your article looking to see if:  the topic is unique or novel, if the data or research is sound, and if it's well written.  The reviewers can: reject the article; accept it with revisions; accept it as is.  

Benefits of peer review is that multiple people decide vs just the editor and the review process weeds out poorly written or researched articles.

Drawbacks of peer review is that it's only as good as the reviewers so poorly written or researched articles have gotten published.  Also, peer review was created to look for quality, not fraud. 

What are the different sections of a peer-reviewed journal article?

A research article in a journal normally has the following sections:

  1. Title--simple summary of the main idea of the paper
  2. Name of authors(s) and institutional affiliation
  3. Abstract--brief summary of the article
  4. Introduction--discusses prior research and states the study's purpose, rationale and hypothesis
  5. Methods--detailed description of how study was conducted
  6. Results--summary of data collected and statistical treatment of data
  7. Discussion--reviews, interprets and evaluates results of the study particularly with respect to the original hypothesis
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References--literature cited


What is the difference between journals, trade publications and magazines?


Scholarly Journals

Trade/Professional Publications

General Interest Magazines


To make original research available to the rest of the scholarly world. To provide practical information to people in an industry as well as showcase leaders in the field. To provide information to a general audience on a range of topics.

Why use them?

Using this type of information lends credibility to your own ideas and hypotheses. Helpful for analying a particular industry.  Also useful when applying for a job or preparing for an interview. Good for identifying potential topics for a research project as well as identifying current or hot issues.


Scholars or researchers in a specific subject area or discipline. Specialists or practitioners in a particular field or industry. Magazine's staff, an expert or scholar, or a freelance writer.


Always cited as footnotes, endnotes or reference lists at the end of an article. Sources are often mentioned within an article but rarely are cited at the end of an article. Occasionally cite sources, but this is the exception.


Uses terminology, jargon and language of the discipline.  Reader is assumed to have a similar scholarly background. Uses jargon specific to a particular field or industry, but writing is for educated professionals. Uses language appropriate for an educated readership but doesn't emphasize any discipline's specific jargon.

Review process

Articles must go through a strict review process by peers within the discipline. Minimal review by editorial staff and rarely by peers. Minimal review by editorial staff.


Contains graphs, charts, and photographs specific to the research but seldom graphic art. Illustrations are usually charts, graphs and photographs relevant to the article, some graphic art. Photographs, illustrations and graphs are used to enhance the overall publication.


Most often published by a professional organization or specialty publishing company. Often published by professional organizations relevant to a particular field or industry. Generally published by commercial enterprises for profit.


Often not present or small amounts of selective advertising. Advertising is relevant to the profession or industry. Includes advertising which appeals to a broad readership.



Journal of Biological Chemistry

Journal of the American Medical Association

Nation's Restaurant News

Publisher's Weekly

Advertising Age


Scientific American




Adapted from Purdue University Libraries
Modified: December 20, 2010
Last modified: December 13, 2016
Dylan Martin - GRA 2016-17