The two defining characteristics of the PUR are its history and its review process.
The PUR was founded in the early 1980s as a vehicle through which undergraduates could contribute to the academic community. The journal was championed by the National Collegiate Honors Council and its then-president, John Portz, who established the Edythe Portz Prize to reward each issue's best overall submission. The PUR's national accolades include publication of George Stephanopoulos' work in 1982 and recognition by the New York Times in 2001.
The review process of the PUR is structured after that of professional academic journals. An undergraduate editorial board evaluates each submission on the basis of quality of scholarship. Papers meeting these standards are sent to two faculty referees with expertise in the paper's topic. Papers that contribute to their field, as determined by the faculty referees, will be published.