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How to Use JSTOR

“Is all the content on JSTOR Peer Reviewed?”

This is a common question from researchers using JSTOR. While nearly all of the journals collected in JSTOR are peer-reviewed publications, the archives also contain primary sources and content that is much older than today's standard peer-review process. However, all content on JSTOR is considered scholarly content.

In the following section we'll look at the peer review process, the definition of scholarly content, and how that relates to content on JSTOR.

Peer Review & Scholarly Content

“What IS peer review?”

Peer review is the evaluation of a person's work or performance by a group of people in the same occupation, profession, or industry. 

In academia, peer review has become an integral part of the publishing process, where journal articles and books are formally evaluated by fellow researchers and experts in one’s field of study. Outside of academia, peer review has become the ultimate signifier that a work is based in facts. 

“How is this different from scholarly content?”

The primary difference is that peer-reviewed content requires a strict "peer approval" for publishing. Scholarly content that is not peer-reviewed only requires the approval of an editorial board.

Scholarly content is research-focused, published information; it reports the results of original research and experimentation. Peer-reviewed journals and books are always scholarly in nature, but scholarly content is not always peer-reviewed. This content is heavily cited in the form of either footnotes or bibliographies, and written by, and addressed to, experts in a discipline. 

“How do I know if content on JSTOR has been peer reviewed?” 

This is a common question for researchers using JSTOR. However, the answer is quite complex. Peer review is a modern process that has only been widely accepted since the 1970s. Additionally, primary sources are not peer-reviewed but are still used for scholarly research. A large percentage of the content on JSTOR is either academic content that was published prior to the peer-review process or primary sources that are not subjected to the peer-review evaluation.

When asking if content on JSTOR has been peer reviewed, most researchers are actually asking “is this content scholarly and academic?” 

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