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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Addiction: Finding articles

a guide to finding out more about addiction and related topics. By Ellen Sexton.

Databases for finding articles on drugs and addiction

Researchers report the results of their work in peer-reviewed articles published in academic (scholarly) journals.  Use the tools (= databases) below to find these scholarly articles:

Scholarly v. Popular articles

This 3 minute video from the Peabody Library at Vanderbilt University talks about the differences between popular and scholarly articles.  It also mentions trade publications. 

What is peer review?

The primary formal scientific communication device remains the academic, peer reviewed journal article.

Most articles published in academic journals are peer-reviewed.  These articles report the results of research and make up the permanent record of scientific literature.    Peer review is the name given to the process by which articles are chosen for publication in scholarly academic journals.  The editor asks other scientists to comment on a manuscript before s/he decides to publish it.  These peer scientists assess the quality of the work reported in the manuscript.

Definitions of peer review (taken from Oxford Reference Online):

peer review    Evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field.

peer review [De].   The process used by publishers and editors of academic journals to provide a chance for scholars to examine and critique a paper or monograph before it is published to help ensure its integrity and veracity.

peer review      1. the evaluation by (other) experts of a research project for which a grant is sought, a paper  received for  publication, etc.    2. a review of commercial, professional, or academic efficiency, competence, etc. by others in the same occupation.

peer review.  To the public, peer review is the ultimate guarantor of good science. Through its process of expert judgment of experts, peer review preserves science's autonomy while assuring society that the money it devotes to science is  well spent. ……


More about peer review



Use PsycINFO to find articles on a topic

PsycINFO is the most important and most comprehensive index to the psychological literature. This database indexes articles on psychology topics which have been published in academic journals.  It will also identify chapters from books, dissertations and reports.

PsycINFO will tell you the article exists, give you a summary (abstract), and often links to the full text of the actual article.

PsycInfo indexes articles published anytime between 1887 to present, and for books 1987 to present.

In some libraries, this database is called  Psychological Abstracts or PsycLit - it's the same database, with the same content, but the name & interface varies according to the vendor/sales company the library is using.

Guide to searching PsycINFO »

Go to PsycINFO »

or search from here:

Quick search in PsycINFO
Limit Your Results

Subject headings in PsycINFO related to addiction

Using appropriate jargon can improve search results.   Here are some words and phrases used in addiction related subject headings in the PsycINFO database:

Drug abuse

Drug addiction

Drug overdoses

Drug usage

Drug withdrawal

Polydrug abuse

Intravenous drug usage

Illegal drug distribution

Methadone maintenance

Needle exchange programs

Watch a Utah University psychologist do a literature search

Dr. Barton Paulson shows how he does a real-life literature search. First he shows the completed literature search section in one of his own articles, then demonstrates how he researches topics, taking preliminary looks at Google and Wikipedia, then more in-depth searches for academic resources using the Annual Review of Psychology, and PsycINFO.

How to get to a journal article when you already know the citation

On the library home page,  click the Journal Titles tab: 


Then type in the name of the journal, NOT the article title.  Hint:  the journal title is often printed in italics