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You are here: Science of Addiction > Finding the Science > Find Research

Where to Find Research on a Topic


The easiest way to find research on a particular topic is by using a database. Databases are collections of records organized so that specific information can be easily found and retrieved.  It is similar to using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo.  Depending on the database, you can access:

  1. Abstracts
  2. Journal articles
  3. Thesis and Dissertations
  4. Books online

Simply input the topic of interest in a blank and a list of all related items and their abstracts will appear.  You can further limit the search to information appearing in a specific journal, or by author, or date (such as items published in the last three years).  

Information on how to access databases is found in the How to Access Research on Your Topic.


An abstract is a formal summary of the article or monograph.  Reading an abstract will answer “is this document truly relevant to my topic of interest?”  An abstract will also provide information needed to retrieve the work from a library or online source such as the article’s title, name of the journal, date, and relevant page numbers. View and example of an abstract. Abstracts are most commonly found in research databases.


Many databases provide not only abstracts but also the full-text online version of journal articles.  If the research was publicly funded, a version of the article may be available at PubMed Central .

Most addiction-related research journals are available online.  Usually the journal’s home site allows you to search electronically for your topic or author of interest and provide abstracts of current and past articles.  

Some addiction-related journals allow free access to their articles but most require subscription to the journal.  However a specific article can usually be purchased at a nominal price and the article is sent electronically.  Or you can access the hard copy version at a local university library. 

If you know the author’s name, you can search the Internet for that author’s website. Researchers often list their publications which may include free access to earlier versions of the article. 


Some databases such as ProQuest allow you to search for published Dissertations on a particular topic.  In addition to the abstract, the database may provide full-text versions of these works.

Dissertations are scholarly research studies and all include a chapter (usually the second chapter) where the author “reviews the relevant literature” for the topic under study. Reading this chapter is an efficient way to become familiar with the key research studies pertinent to your topic of interest. Someone else has done all the work of gathering the studies. The Reference list at the end of the dissertation can also be useful to review.

Books online

Databases, such as Ebrary allow you to search and access collections of digitized books related to the topic of interest.  A quick review of the table of contents or the index at the back of a book can help locate relevant information. Using the browser’s “Find” function can make the process faster.

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