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Introductory Guide to
Reading Research Articles
- A Self-Paced Learning Module

Peer Reviewed Journals
Types of Published Articles
Literature Review
Rationale & Purpose

Return to Science of Addiction on the ATTC Network Website


Case Study:

A careful, in-depth study of an individual or a situation usually using qualitative research methods; in quantitative research, an application of treatment followed by observation and measurement.


The act or agency which produces an effect.

Control Group:

A group of subject closely resembling the treatment (experimental) group in many demographic variables but not receiving the active medication or factor under study and thereby serving as a comparison group when treatment results are evaluated.


A relation existing between phenomena or things or between mathematical or statistical variables which tend to vary, be associated, or occur together in a way not expected on the basis of chance alone.

Dependent Variable:

A variable presumed to be affected by a treatment or by an independent variable.

Double-blind Procedures:

Neither the subject nor the treatment administrator knows whether the treatment being given is a placebo or the actual treatment.

Experimental Group:

A group of subjects that are exposed to the variable of an experiment, as opposed to the control group.

Focus Group:

A panel, selected to be representative of a population, interviewed on a topic of interest. Probes determine the popularity of various comments and points of view and the depth of feeling toward them. There may also be trials of material to determine how the panel’s reactions could be changed.


The ability to generalize to subjects, situations, treatments, measures, times, study designs, and procedures other than those used in a given study.


Explanations for observations are called hypotheses. A hypothesis is a statement or a conjecture about the relationships among the variables that a researcher wants to study. Researchers are able to test the validity of their hypotheses through observation and experimentation.

Independent Variable:

A variable believed to be a cause; normally used to designate a variable that cannot be manipulated through treatment.

Informed Consent:

Consent freely given by an individual who has been informed of the nature of the study, understands its procedures, knows who to contact if harmed, and understands he or she can withdraw at any time without malice.


Combining the statistical results of studies of the same question into a single result to enhance statistical power, to find the average size of the effect, to determine the nature of the relationship, and to find how the relationship is affected by other variables.

Qualitative and Quantitative Research:

There are two broad categories of research design: quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative research is a type of research that involves collecting and analyzing subjective information and then developing theories based on the information. In contrast, quantitative research is typically conducted to test a theory and involves collecting measurable information, analyzing the data with statistical processes, and making predictive generalizations about the theory being tested.


A systematic method for answering questions. It consists of several interrelated steps and processes. These are as follows: make observations, develop explanations, experiment, refine and retest conclusions, publish results.


The likelihood that if the same procedures were followed (or same measuring instrument were used) others would arrive at the same results.


A means by which cases are taken from a population is such a way as to accurately represent the variables of interest in that population; thus a study of the sample may economically be substituted for a study of the entire population.

Standard Deviation:

A measure of the variability or spread of scores; the square root of the average of the squared deviations of the scores from the mean of the set of scores.

Statistically Significant:

Evidence that a value is atypical in a sampling distribution, that it would not typically result from the operation of random sampling variation and chance error and that it would appear with a rarity expressed by long odds such as 19 to 1 or 100 to 1.


Measurement validity- the extent to which an instrument measures what it is intended to measure.

Internal validity is the extent to which an observed effect can be attributed to an intervention, rather than to flaws in the research design. Internal validity addresses whether the intervention really makes a difference.

External validity is the extent to which an observed effect that is attributable to an intervention can be expected in other settings and populations with similar or different characteristics. The primary focus of external validity is generalizability.


An attribute or characteristic that can change (vary) or that can be expressed in various values or categories. Examples of variables are height, age, amount of alcohol consumed per day, number of abstinent days following treatment, and different treatment approaches.


Krathwohl, David R. (1998). Educational & Social Science Research – An Integrated Approach, 2nd Edition. Glossary (pp.679-694). United States: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc.







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