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Healthcare Quality & Safety

What is Peer Review?

In academic publishing, the goal of peer review is to access the quality of articles submitted for publication in a scholarly journal by experts in a specific field of research.  Before an article is deemed appropriate for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, it must undergo an evaluation process.

peer-review process

Step 1: Submission

  • The author of the article submit it to the journal editor who forwards the article to experts in the field, after it has been processed through the relevant journal submission system.
  • Because the reviewers specialize in the same scholarly area as the author, they are considered the author's peers, hence "peer-review."

Step 2:  Evaluation

  • The impartial reviewers charged with carefully evaluating the quality of the submitted manuscript, often using their own evaluation criteria to assist the review process.
  • Peer-reviewers check the validity of the research methodology and procedures.  In addition, they look for any unethical practice in the research or plagiarism. 

Step 3:  Recommendations

  • Journal editors rely on reviewers to offer guidance on whether to accept or reject an article. 
  • Reviewers recommend one of 3 options.  One, accept the manuscript as is, this is very rare. Two, if appropriate, reviewers will recommend the author makes revisions and then re-submits the article.  Three, reviewers may recommend the editor rejects the article.   


Holland,K., Duncombe, D., Dyas, E. & Meester, W. (Last updated 2014). Scopus Journal FAQs: Helping to improve the submission & success process for editors & publishers. Retrieved from

5 Successful Search Strategies

Follow these 5 steps for a successful search:

1.  Identify key concepts and think of synonyms for each concept.

  • Watch this tutorial to learn more about key concepts.

2.  Build search statements using AND, OR, and sometimes NOT.

  • Use AND to narrow your search and OR to broaden it.

3.  Choose the right databases and resources to search.

  • PubMed is a good starting point for peer-reviewed research articles.
  • Consider books and e-books for background information.

4.  Use filters to refine search results.

  • PubMed has limits for language, patient age, publication type, date, and more.

5.  Chat with a Librarian if you get stuck or need any help!

Background Information

When is background information useful?

  • If you are unfamiliar with the topic, it provides a good overview of the subject matter.
  • It helps you to identify important facts related to your topic: terminology, dates, events, history, and names or organizations.
  • It can help you to refine your topic.
  • Background sources might lead you to bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources of information on your topic.

Benedictine University Library. (n.d.) Finding Background Information. Retrieved from

The sources below can provide you with overview information on your topic(s):

  • textbooks
  • dictionaries
  • general encyclopedias
  • subject-specific encyclopedias  

Benedictine University Library. (n.d.) Finding Background Information. Retrieved from

Follow the directions below to find health informatics ebooks:

1.Go to library homepage

2. Click “Advanced”

Screen shot to find ebook

3. Select E-Books
4. Select Subject
5. Type one of the following phrases in the search box:
  • Quality
  • Patient Safety
6. Click search
Screen shot to find Ebook

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Encyclopedia covering a wide variety of specialties.  Search suggestion:  Use specific keywords such as:

  • Quality
  • Patient Safety

UAB Libraries Online Dictionaries

List of online dictionaries available through UAB Libraries' catalog.  Search suggestions:  Add general terms such as: dictionary (medical OR "medical care" OR healthcare OR "health care" OR health) or use Subject filter on left.  For example, limit to Medicine and Health & Biological Sciences.

Evaluate the website's Authority, Objectivity, Accuracy, Currency and Usability.  You can use the form below created by Kent State University Libraries.

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