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Authority: Understanding Peer Review

This guide will help you better understand authority in the context of research and information and provide you with methods of evaluating an information source to determine its authority.
Last Updated: Oct 20, 2021 1:00 PM

Peer Review

Peer review is a process most often used in the publication of scholarly, academic journals. You have likely heard about it from your professors and were perhaps required to use sources that have gone through this process.

It is designed to help weed out research that fails to meet a discipline's standards, has issues with the methodology, or has structural or data analysis problems. It is rigorous, hoping to fix errors before publication. That is partly why these types of sources are credible and authoritative. 

Always remember that changes over time might mean something that was peer reviewed could now be out of date, depending on when it was published.

Learn more about the process and how to search for peer-reviewed resources below.

Peer Review and Article Types

In-Depth Reading on Peer Review

Searching for Peer-Reviewed Articles

Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers

Parallels Outside of Academic Publishing: Reddiquette

A pile of Reddit stickers with the website's alien logo and catchphrase "I read it on reddit!"

Though informal, Reddit's guide for the creation of posts parallels the peer-review and publishing processes to underpin the quality of posts. Reddiquette and similar documentation provide creators with a set of suggested guidelines for posts that may include very similar criteria for quality academic research: "keep your submission titles factual and opinion free" and "look for the original source of content", for example.

Just as a researcher would want to publish in the most appropriate journal, Reddiquette recommends posting to the most appropriate community.

As authoritative scholarly communities rely on active participation to continually vet and push forward our knowledge in all disciplines, Reddiquette asks community members to read articles fully, provide constructive criticism and reasoning, and even keep up-to-date by browsing the new submissions page and voting on it.

Simply adhering to such guidelines alone is not enough to guarantee publishing and that your voice is heard, but these are important guides to ensure authoritative information is produced.

You can read more about these parallels in the article "Reddit as an Analogy for Scholarly Publishing and the Constructed, Contextual Nature of Authority."

Image attribution: "reddit sticker - 3" by Eva Blue is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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