My names is Brendan and I am an…

… by this point I had lost all semblance of control or balance in my life. I stopped caring about school, work, even my friends and family. All I thought about was when I was going to get my next fix. It was the only thing on my mind. This is my first AA meeting, my name is Brendan and I am an Article’aholic.

I am addicted to Journal Articles. I meet all of the DSM-IV-TR’s framework on addiction criteria. My addiction is socially, emotionally and occupationally maladaptive. If I am sitting in a lecture or discussing certain topics I will attempt to pay attention in earnest. After awhile, from some comment, an errant thought will stand up from the rest.

And it begins.

I wonder, “Could those two things be related? Hrmm, I thi-iink I remember seeing a citation on {insert random topic, on literally anything, medical/psychological or not}.” Next thing you know I have four PDF articles open and am searching for a fifth because I know I remember seeing pre-1930 Lancet back issues somewhere.

The cause of this addiction, my enabler if you will, was a brilliant developmental psychology professor I had in third year University. A requirement of my program was to take two research methods courses. Although I am not particularly interested in developmental psych, none of the alternative professors had workload ratings on ratemyprofessor.com acceptably low enough. The other classes were predicated on mundane assigned-topic essays (i.e. research the treatment of depression). Ori began the semester by moving us to a random computer lab in the dusty basement of the psychology building. He brought in a man and introduced him as our “faculty librarian”. I was not aware we had a faculty-specific librarian at our disposal. I was not even aware librarys still had librarians. The librarian put up a powerpoint showing a website none of us had ever seen before – ISI’s web of knowledge.

Pictured: My addiction.

There are answers to anything you want to know. I mean anything. The source of this knowledge is not a man with a beard and a funny crescent moon-adorned hat nor is it a giant smoke-spewing head. The source are journal articles. Every question you have ever had, every eyebrow you have ever raised, has a journal article. Web of Knowledge has over 47 million articles. Million. On every topic anyone could ever conceive of.

Ever wonder whether or not lights and sirens really are effective? Someone did. Why are the two types of second degree AV blocks termed Mobitz I and II? Ask Woldemar Mobitz. Does music actually improve sleep quality? It does. The list goes on and on.

Yes but surely there must be a cost for access to this giant repository of information? Ah yes, always a catch. The downside to this land of quenched curiosity is that these articles cost money. About $15. Each. There is a loophole though. Unfortunately it is arduous and expensive in and of itself. To gain unlimited access to this store of scholarly information you must obtain…

…a library card.

If you go to your local city library’s website many of you will find a “Connect from Home” option. Although each library’s set-up will differ the general process is to enter the serial number on the front of your library card (or a friend’s). Upon authentication of some fashion your browser will enter into a “proxy” mode tricking the expensive pay sites into thinking you are logged on from a library computer. This affords access to all the journals your heart, or mind, desires. Also usually included is the ability to legally save PDF versions of the articles for future reference.

Next time you are researching a new pathology you heard on House read the latest Lancet review of the topic. If a patient presents with a history of a drug you can barely pronounce you will find articles detailing the pathology it treats, its clinical trials and any subsequent longitudinal analysis. All of our scope of practice adjustments (past and future) began as journal articles. ILCOR publishes its pentannual CoSTR’s in Circulation and Resuscitation. Both peer-reviewed journal articles and both found on web of knowledge.

Go forth! Research! Cite! Piss off your friends and co-workers! Let the addiction begin.

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