Very simply an article is peer reviewed if it has been read and scrutinized by scholars or other researchers in the field prior to publication. Think of it as quality control for research and publication.
The article and the journal where it is published also meet certain research and publishing standards for that particular discipline.
Other terms for peer reviewed are refereed or juried.
The Oxford English Dictionary (2019) defines peer review as "To subject to, or evaluate by, peer review; to referee (a paper)" and peer reviewed as "That is, or has been, subject to peer review; (of a journal) that incorporates a system of peer review."
"peer review, v." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, www.oed.com/view/Entry/237423. Accessed 29 October 2019.
"peer-reviewed, adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2019, www.oed.com/view/Entry/263622. Accessed 29 October 2019.
Here are some general characteristics that usually apply to peer reviewed journals and their articles:
Is it peer reviewed? How do you know? We have a few ways to sort your results, or identify if your specific result is peer reviewed.
1. Sort your results: Most of our databases have a feature that allows you to limit or refine your search results to only those that are peer-reviewed. Look for that option on the search screen. Pro tip: some database providers have a more lenient definition of peer reviewed, if you're not sure check with a librarian or your professor.
2. I'm not sure if this article or journal is peer reviewed:
You can look up the journal by title or ISSN number in Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory. Once you locate the journal, Ulrich's will tell you, by having an image of a referee shirt or not, if a journal is peer reviewed or not. Below, you can see that of the six results, the first and fifth result are not peer reviewed and the second, third, fourth, and sixth are peer reviewed.
Popular magazines are those that are published with the general reader in mind. The articles generally assume no prior knowledge on the part of the reader and are written by journalists or editors. The goal may be to inform, entertain or persuade the reader.
Popular Magazines may have lots of pictures and they will have advertisements.
Trade publications are often written by and for professionals within a field or industry. The publication may cover emerging trends, current news and new products. The articles may be "how to" in nature or give practical advise for practitioners in a field. They are usually not academic in nature and are not peer reviewed. The publication will often contain advertisements and photos. They can look academic, so be sure to review sources carefully.