In many DermTV episodes, when I talk about different claims or allegations, whether about medical ingredients, products, procedures or even devices, in order to stress the VALIDITY and accuracy of my remarks, I’ll often refer to either research published in a peer-reviewed journal, OR… just “peer reviewed.”
Today I‘d like to explain why peer review is so important.
Very simply, a peer reviewed journal is one in which every article has been peer reviewed, a process that scientific journals use to ENSURE that the articles they publish contain scholarly and accurate information, the best currently available.
When an article is submitted to a peer reviewed journal, the editors send it to a group of independent scholars, researchers and experts in the same field as the author, a group considered to be the author’s “peers.” They judge the article based on the quality of its scholarship, accuracy and relevance to the subject, and also the appropriateness of the article for the journal.
The articles approved by a majority of these peers are accepted for publication. Those that are not approved aren’t published.
This is so important because the peer review process ensures that articles and studies published in peer review journals contain the highest quality of information available. So in medicine, peer review is the ultimate standard of quality control.
This isn’t to say that non peer reviewed publications don’t contain good information. There are great articles in excellent publications like Time, Newsweek, Cosmo and even the New York Times. But these publications only rely on the judgment of their editors as to whether an article is up to snuff or not. So while they do provide interesting and valuable information, you can't necessarily count on them for solid, scientific scholarship.
So now you know that when I qualify information as coming from peer reviewed journals, you can be sure it’s the best scientific information available. And when something isn’t peer reviewed, it doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. It just means you can’t always be sure it IS correct.