Under an academic and a scholar settings, information sources are critical when making claims or predicting the pattern of events or outcomes. Credible and reliable information are essential for maintaining a reputable scientific discovery or research. Hence, to aid this process, the scientific community maintains scientific integrity by implementing a peer review process for the publication of scientific articles. The incorporation of peer review processes allow experts in the area of the subject matter to review the information contained in an article before publication. This review is intended to assess two publications based on a peer-review and non-peer review criteria. The two articles of interest addressed here, are from the American Journal of public health (peer reviewed) and New York Times (non-peer-reviewed).
Peer review and non-peer review sources
A Scientific Journal is one of the best way used in communicating innovative information within the scientific community and the general public. Either way, communicating information embedded in claims must be supported by vetted evidence-based research and credible sources, and most importantly, reviewed by experts in the field of the subject matter. In any case, there are core criteria used to distinguish a peer review articles from a non-peer review publication. The criteria are not limited to purpose, scope, content, accountability, audience, title, authorship, writing style, language, article length, organization, abstract, visual data, bibliography, and publisher (Walden, n.d.). Perhaps, analyzing the core differences between peer and non-peer reviewed articles, objectively in this review, two articles describing the effects of social and political factors on syringe exchange programs on HIV/AIDs incidence and prevalence, are used to illustrate the core difference.
One is a peer-reviewed article written by Tempalski et al., (2007). The authors, evaluated the efficacy of several programs on the syringe exchange programs (SEPs) and its effects on the prevalence/incidence of HIV/AIDs. In the study, the authors concluded that the absence of SEPs increases the prevalence and incidence of HIV/AIDs within the drug user’s population (Tempalski et al., 2007). Also, they demonstrated that implementation of the program within the target population reduces the prevalence and incidence of HIV/AIDs within the drug user population (Tempalski et al., 2007).
The non-peer reviewed article/report written by the NY times in 2012 on the same issue also indicated, “clean needle-exchange services have proven very effective in decreasing drug abuse and reducing risk of infection with H.I.V., Hepatitis C, and other diseases” (Audoin, & Beyrer, 2012). The New York Times further indicated that there are more than one million people in Russia with HIV/AIDs and 78% injecting drug users represents HIV cases in Russia (Audoin, & Beyrer, 2012). Apparently, both articles suggested that strong SEPs is an important intervention tool in reducing the incidence and prevalence of HIV-associated with drug-syringe use in all cases. Unfortunately, despite the presented evidence, the political and social qualms on the issue of personal responsibility were implicated and has hindered the adoption process of the program in many communities. Also, there is fear and concern that a state/federal sponsored SEPs may send a wrong message, or implicated as the enabler, for drug use.
Nonetheless, the importance of a peer-reviewed article is that the article in question, in this case, the article published in the American Journal of public health was peer reviewed by experts in public health and HIV/AIDS programs. Also, a peer-reviewed article in most cases makes claims that are supported by a study while a non-peer review article is only limited to report findings. Making claims is very critical in scientific discovery. Such claims usually pave the way for innovation and sound scientific research or scholar-practitioner research. A Scholar Practitioner or Practice is a research oriented field. It involves the application of credible research usually based on a previously documented and vetted studies (prior art). Hence, all scholar research include references.
Overall, both the peer-reviewed article from the American Journal of public health and the non-peer-reviewed article from the NY times had the same purpose; to inform, educate, and empower the target audience. In both accounts, the authors are accountable but on different standards. The peer-reviewed authors are expected to have high ethical standards and scientific integrity. In furtherance, the two major differences in both articles are the scope of the articles and inclusion of references.
The peer-reviewed scope was focused on one or specific academic field, in this case, public health, while the NY times’ scope was broad. Besides, a peer-reviewed article contains several bibliography (references) while the non-peer reviewed NY times report had none. Most importantly, the peer-reviewed article included statistical data and tables (Tempalski, et al., 2007). Consequently, discerning a peer reviewed article from a non-peer reviewed article usually implicates multifactorial clues, which includes the presence of bibliography(references), abstract, visual data such as graphs, organization (research methodology), authors (experts), focused scope and accountability (peer reviewed). In some cases, publishers includes a “peer-reviewed” insert on each page of the published journal.
Audoin, B., & Beyrer, C. (2012). Russia’s retrograde stand on drug abuse. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/opinion/russias-retrograde-stand-on-drug-abuse.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Tempalski, B., Flom, P., Friedman, S., Des Jarlais, D., Friedman, J., McKnight, C., & Friedman, R. (2007). Social and political factors predicting the presence of syringe exchange programs in 96 U.S. metropolitan areas. American Journal of Public Health, 97(3), 437-447. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.065961