Peer review is the process of having peers in a discipline review a book or article manuscript before it is accepted for publication. Peer reviewers look at whether the correct research method was selected for the problem, the research method was conducted properly, the data is represented without bias, the conclusions follow from the study results, and more. Peer reviewed sources are usually considered the gold standard in academics.
But . . . here a few aspects of peer review to consider:
- The topics that researchers study are often restricted to those of interest to grant-awarding institutions, e.g., NSF, NIH
- University research is frequently funded by corporations
- The majority of people can't understand or don't have access to peer-reviewed books and journals (the access part is improving)
So it is wise to be aware of other sources and how to evaluate them, otherwise you'll miss out on a lot of information in the world!