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You are here: Science of Addiction > Finding the Science > About Reading Research

About Reading Research

Scientific research affects many aspects of the addiction field. Research that is relevant to you, the addiction professional, is readily available to support, improve and inspire the work you do with your clients.

Need to learn about or review research terminology and methods?

Just as the treatment field has its own jargon and established practices, so, too, research has its own language and methodologies.  Many addiction professionals may not be familiar with research, making it difficult at first to read and interpret findings accurately.  Others may simply need to refresh their knowledge of terms and methodologies.  Please visit the Interpreting the Science section of this website for self paced, easy-to-follow explanations of research related language and topics.

Anatomy of a research article

The table below illustrates the basic organization of a typical research article.
Just because something appears in print does not mean it is worthwhile or valid. Research in the addiction field can usually be trusted, but it is okay to develop a healthy skepticism and learn how to assess the quality of a piece of research.

Anatomy Of A Research Article


Presets a brief overview of the article, including key data from the sections shown below.


States the purpose of the study, including clinical background and rationale, reviews previous studies, and identifies the current question (hypothesis) to be investigated.


Defines the subjects included in the study and sample size, describes how the study was conducted (treatment protocol), defines the outcomes measures, and generally describes the statistical analyses to be performed.


Describes in detail what was found during the study, including differences in treatment effects (outcomes), their significance, (p-value) and confidence limits.  This sections should also show how statistical procedures were performed and specify any adjustments that were made to the data (e.g. Including or excluding patients lost to follow-up)


Interprets the findings and describes any limitations of the study or other factors that might have influenced the results in one way or another (e.g. bias in selecting subjects or conditions that might have affected outcomes).



Suggests how, when, and in whom the results might be applied in clinical settings and often provides suggestions for further research.

*From Northwest Frontier ATTC Addiction Messenger, July 2004, 7(7), p.3.

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