How To Use Peer Reviewed Research In Your Academic Paper

In this recurring and evolving age of information, one shouldn’t limit themselves to curiosity and exploration for knowledge. Everything starts with an idea and becomes the foundation of something new or better that contributes to society. If you’re seeking solutions to problems, the best way to find it is through evidence and research, thus you’re encouraged to write academically.

Academic writing is a piece of uniformly written work with brief, concise, truthful, and systematic evidence. This aims to find a solution to a problem and its results are either an invention or innovation.

The research process of academic writing doesn’t solely involve collecting preexisting information from different sources and combining them to label as your own. Instead, research involves a thorough investigation imbued with critical thinking. In order to write your academic paper, analytical thinking skills are paramount.

With that being said, when writing your academic paper, you should gather information only from reliable sources, such as peer reviewed research. These scholarly works are important pillars of science that should be utilized with full responsibilities by the researchers, while gaining its benefits as well.


What Is Peer Reviewed Research? 

Basically, peer reviewed research is a scholarly article, journal, research paper, or any written work that is reviewed by two or more experts in their designated field, along with suggestions and recommendations for revision, before being accepted for publication. There’s no researcher and research that produced a perfect work for the first time, thus the need for a larger room for improvement.

Peer reviewing matters greatly on the field of science. As a researcher, you should hold ethical responsibility for the sake of the quality and truthfulness in your work. You have to keep in mind that findings and results that you collect will contribute to the advancement of society. Thus, it’s only proper to put research, upon which researchers make claims about certain phenomena, under scrutiny by anyone accountable for it. 

There are numerous approaches to peer review, but generally, the two most common are: single-blind peer review and double-blind peer review. In a single-blind peer review, the reviewer knows who the author is but the reviewer’s name is hidden from the author. On the other hand, both parties are anonymous to one another in a double-blind peer review.

A peer review process is complex and strict, simply because of the importance it holds to the scientific community. If you’re interested more in discovering peer review and its manifestations, make sure to check out this post: What Is Peer Review In Science? A Complete Guide.


Importance of Using Peer-Reviewed Work On Your Paper

Now that the concept and importance of peer review is explained, let’s now go to the significance of incorporating it into another body of work. First of all, take note that not all journals and its enclosed articles are peer reviewed, especially free-to-access, online journals. So when you search for sources in your academic paper, and if you’re particular to peer reviewed research, you’ll have to dig in deeper. 

In terms of finding reliable and complete peer reviewed sources online, your university library account is essential to access those information. First, you can search for peer reviewed sources in your own university’s database and make sure to filter the ‘refereed’ from those that are not. 

In Google scholar, most peer reviewed journals only feature their abstract and a few short information about the research. Other peer reviewed journals that show their complete research might not have as good quality as those private ones, so take advantage of utilizing your university subscription. 

Generally, academic journals are categorized into ‘tiers’ which classifies their standing within the field and their selectiveness in accepting articles for their journal. The higher a journal sits on the ranking, the higher their reputation in providing top-of-the-line research, as well as their standards for accepting. Before papers are being submitted in their system, they always provide author guidelines that will be the basis of their acceptance or rejection. 

By definition, peer reviewed research are definitely reliable and credible sources to, not just add into your paper, but prioritize in doing so. They sit on a higher standard, quality, and authority in providing what information you need, as compared to non-peer reviewed ones. Basically, they’re not just ‘something’ to incorporate, but should ideally be on your work.

How To Incorporate Them Into Your Paper

Once you’ve found peer reviewed research to include on your paper, the next challenge now is how to incorporate them into your paper properly, with utmost critical and analytical thinking. Take note that peer reviewed research belongs under any scientific work, thus they’re cited as how all research would be, but we’ll get into the specifics later.

Before adding sources into your paper to prove your claims, you’ll have to find them first. But, it can be difficult to recognize peer reviewed research from non-peer reviewed ones, so you need to be creative in finding them. Most professors will require you to utilize peer reviewed research anyway. Peer reviewed works can also be referred to as “scholarly journals” or “refereed journals.”

To make your hunt a lot easier, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Limit your database, filtering only peer reviewed research. Whether you’re searching for sources in your university’s database or the online database, always narrow down your search through selecting that option or feature before clicking the search button. As mentioned earlier, some high quality peer reviewed research might only show a short summary, thus widen your exploration.
  2. Search in reliable websites and databases only. No matter how difficult finding sources can be, always make sure that you’re getting information only from legitimate and reliable websites. Some of the best and most reliable databases are listed here by the University of Michigan.
  3. Confirm that the publication is a peer reviewed research. Now comes to the most detailed part is to authenticate a peer reviewed research, especially if you weren’t able to identify if your source is really peer reviewed. Thus, you’ll have to look for journals physically. Although they’re not entirely successful with all resources, here are some suggested steps:
  • Look up for the masthead of the paper, usually enclosed in a box at the front or end of the whole publication. This contains necessary publication information. If you still haven’t identified it as peer reviewed, proceed to the next step.
  • See the masthead if there’s any information about methods for journal submission. Usually, there’s a written “…submit three copies…” if they’re peer reviewed, suggesting that the work has to be submitted to the reviewers first before being accepted for publication. However, this is not always the case.
  • Lastly, do your own judgment. Definitely, there are criteria to check if the work is professionally written. Check for technical terminologies, complete research parts (abstract, chapter 1 to 5, accessory parts), and most importantly, legitimate bibliographies and footnotes. 
  • If you have already conducted these steps but you’re still not sure if it’s peer reviewed, don’t be afraid to consult your instructor, colleagues, and even your institution. More sources from different minds means that you can have more diversity in your work.

Once you’ve compiled all your peer reviewed sources, it’s time to write your academic paper and incorporate these ideas in a unique and informative way. Now, onto the real process of putting these peer reviewed research into your academic paper, here are some tips that you can treat as a writing guide:

Start Early and Steer Clear From Procrastination

Everyone has probably gone through this at some point of their life: not starting a task immediately and finding themselves procrastinating right before the deadline. Writing an academic paper obviously takes time, and since your scholarly sources are written to be understood by mostly experts, it will take more time for you to incorporate them into your paper. 

To overcome this challenge, start your research early. Once you step into the process of incorporating and analyzing your scholarly sources, they’re more difficult to read and translate in your way. Most ideas will be new and unfamiliar to you. Thus, compile relevant peer reviewed research papers and start reading the abstracts and summaries first to identify if they’ll be helpful for your topic. 

Then, sort out all scholarly sources that are relevant to your topic, then start reading them thoroughly. The most time-consuming part of your research is definitely the second chapter which comprises the review of related literature and studies, which you will discuss the findings in scholarly journals that are related to your topic.

Conventionally, the second chapter always goes after the first, obviously. However, writing the second chapter first before the statement of the problem can give you a broader view of the topic.


Follow The Style Guide Of Journal Of Choice

Academic papers are always written systematically through following a specific format. Since journals and publication platforms sometimes vary in terms of formatting, always follow the style guide of your journal of choice. If your paper is a subject requirement, then use your professor’s provided style guide. 

Practicing this skill will be helpful when you continue to write during your academic and corporate future. Every journal has their own style and configuration so make sure that you follow them strictly, and set your personal preferences aside.

When incorporating your scholarly sources, never copy paste them as is, especially if they have a different style guide. These sources are meant to support and give evidence to your claims, so you need to explain them in a way that is connected to your topic. Make sure that you use these information while complying with the required style guide.


Make Use of Proper Citation

Peer reviewed or not, academic research has to be credited to its rightful authors. Failure to meet this ethical responsibility leads to a serious crime known as plagiarism. When mentioning ideas that are not originally yours, always make use of proper citation. 

Generally, sources and references are used not just to prove your claims, but it can also present facts and statistics, highlight relevant examples and illustrations, give authority to a certain idea, and so on. Before you add a source in your paper, it’s noteworthy to identify the purpose of utilizing it and how it will be presented in the best possible way. 

When utilizing your sources and writing them in your own words, always cite the source. Generally, there are three major citation style guides used in academic writing, depending on your field or topic:

  • American Psychological Association (APA): Education, engineering, social sciences
  • Modern Language Association (MLA): History, art, English, music, philosophy, linguistics, language, religion
  • Chicago Manual of Style: Supports two styles: (1) Chicago Notes and Bibliography, history and humanities, and (2) Chicago Author-Date, natural sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences

At the end of your paper, the list of all scholarly sources utilized in your research is always expected, and this is known as either the bibliography or reference list. 


Integrate Your Sources Seamlessly

If you’ve successfully compiled all your scholarly sources, determined the purpose of using them, and identified which citation style guide to use, it’s time to integrate them into your paper through three methods:

  • Paraphrasing: In paraphrasing, you put the relevant ideas from the source and translate them into your own words, while still giving credit to the original author. Paraphrased texts are almost the same length as the original text since you’ve put attention to details, but in your own words. It’s best to use this method when the original idea wasn’t clearly explained and you seem to have a better way of doing it.
  • Summarizing: As the word suggests, summarizing is creating a summary of an idea, thus highlighting only the key, concise points of a text. Summarizing is best to do when presenting all the main ideas in a paper briefly.
  • Quoting: When the ideas that you’ll incorporate into your paper are entirely important and specific, you have to quote them directly from the author. Always enclose these direct quotes in quotation marks and add proper citations. 

With overflowing resources, you might become too overwhelmed and overuse these information. Always keep in mind to be selective and concise. Include only relevant information that can contribute to your paper’s topic, since not everything in your scholarly journals will be directly relevant to your research. You’ll definitely encounter using two to three paragraphs, if you’re lucky enough, amidst a scholarly paper with multiple pages.

While filtering out only the essential information, also take note to stay focused on your topic. Your sources are only meant to support your claims, thus your paper shouldn’t be centered on these. Moreover, don’t overuse too many sources and quotations into a single paragraph.


Salient Points

Research is a mesmerizing endeavor that never stops – you think of a central idea to solve your problem, find relevant information to support them, and try to prove your claims. It’s a continuous learning process that encourages people to keep on pursuing their curiosities. While scholarly sources are abundant in different fields of science, you should be able to recognize, classify, find their purpose, and incorporate them into your research in a logical manner.