Learning Resource System

Peer-Reviewed and Evidence-Based Sources

Your instructors at Stanbridge expect you to support your research with peer-reviewed and evidence-based sources. The following guide will help you understand the the meaning of peer-reviewed and evidence-based, and how to find peer-reviewed and evidence-based sources.

Evidence-based is not the same as peer-reviewed. Most evidence-based sources are also peer-reviewed, but not all peer-reviewed sources are evidence-based.


What is peer-reviewed?

  • Peer-reviewed sources are academic/scholarly in nature.
  • Peer-reviewed sources are intended to keep researchers and practitioners in the field up-to-date on the most recent research and findings.
  • Peer-reviewed sources are written by experts in a particular field.
  • Peer-reviewed sources are reviewed by other experts in the field before publication.
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles are published in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Peer-reviewed books are usually published by a University Press.

Where do I find peer-reviewed sources?

  • Use library databases available through Ebsco, ProQuest, and Cochrane Library to find peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • View the Subject Guide for your program for useful databases and program-specific research tips.
  • When searching databases, use database limiters to narrow your search to peer-reviewed, scholarly, and/or academic journals.

How do I tell if a source is peer-reviewed?

  • If you are using a library database, in most cases the article record will indicate if the article is peer-reviewed.
  • However, you should always check the following criteria to be sure that the source is peer-reviewed.
    • Authors: Do the authors hold a PHD? Are they affiliated with a University or institution? Are the authors’ credentials relevant to the subject matter?
    • Publisher: Is the journal peer-reviewed? Is the journal or publisher affiliated with an academic, scholarly or professional institution?
    • Audience: Who is the intended audience? Do the authors use specialized terminology? Is the source intended for other researchers in the field?
    • References: Are sources cited in the body of the article? Are references listed at the end of the article? Are the references academic and peer-reviewed?
    • Structure and Content: Does the article have an abstract, introduction, literature review, results, discussion, and conclusion? Does the source contain graphs, charts and tables that display and explain the data? Are research claims documented?
    • Currency/Timeliness: Is the date of the publication evident? Is the information current enough for your research needs?


What is evidence-based?

  • Evidence-based sources are systematic reviews.
  • A systematic review is a review of the literature and multiple research studies on a specific topic.
  • The authors collect as much research as possible on a single topic, review and analyze the research, and provide conclusions based on the total sum of the findings.
  • The total sum of the findings is what is considered the “evidence” of evidence-based research.
  • The evidence collected in the systematic review is used by healthcare administrators to create guidelines for treating a specific disease or condition.

Where do I find evidence-based sources?

  • Cochrane Library (Stanbridge)
    • Use advance search mode and view results in the Cochrane Reviews category.
  • CINAHL Complete (through Ebsco at Stanbridge)
    • In advanced search mode, narrow your search to Evidence-Based Practice.
    • Or browse the Evidence-Based Care Sheets link at the top of the page.
  • MEDLINE Complete (through Ebsco at Stanbridge)
    • In advanced search mode, narrow your search to EBM.
  • PubMed (free online by U.S. National Library of Medicine)
    • Search PubMed Clinical Queries to quickly find evidence-based sources in PubMed. View instructions for for searching here.
    • Search PubMed and PubMed Health and use the Systematic Reviews filter under Article Types after you conduct your initial search.
  • Other Databases
    • Cochrane Library, CINAHL, MEDLINE and PubMed are the best resources for finding evidence-bases sources, but you can try searching other library databases by adding one of the following terms to your search.
      • Evidence-based
      • Systematic review
      • Meta-analysis

How do I tell if a source is evidence-based?

  • Article includes terms such as Systematic Review, Review, Meta-Analysis and/or Evidence-Based.
  • Authors state they searched multiple databases for literature and research studies.
  • Authors include statements such as “Based on the evidence . . .” or “Treatment options based on the evidence are  . . .”
  • Click this link to view an example of a Systematic Review from Cochrane Library.