The defining characteristics of PUR are its review process, and history.
The review process of PUR is structured after that of professional academic journals. An editorial board composed of undergraduates 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.
PUR was founded in the early eighties 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. PUR's national accolades include publication of George Stephanopoulos' work in 1982 and recognition by the New York Times in 2001.