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PPLE 315-01: Rhetoric of "War on Drugs": Starting Point


Links to some interesting resources:

Drugs in America : A Documentary History edited by David F. Musto, M.D.
  • Book available from the Hatfield Library, 2nd Floor Stacks #HV 4999.2 .D78 2002
  • "With accessible, jargon-free introductions, this anthology puts drug and alcohol use at the center of American culture.  At this critical point in the "war on drugs," we must appreciate our drug and alcohol history or become captive to the powerful emotions that lead either to Draconian repression and exaggeration or apathy and silence"
Forces of Habit : Drugs and the Making of the Modern World authored by David T. Courtwright
  • Book available from the Hatfield Library, 2nd Floor Stacks #HV 4997 .C68 2001
  • "What drives the drug trade, and how has it come to be what it is today?  A global history of the acquisition of progressively more potent means of altering ordinary waking consciousness, this book is the first to provide the big picture of the discovery, interchange, and exploitation of the planet’s psychoactive resources, from tea and kola to opiates and amphetamines."
Drug Enforcement Administration Museum U.S. federal government website & physical museum maintained by the DEA 
  • The DEA was organized in 1973 by President Nixon as a law enforcement agency under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice, but its origins date back to 1915 when the U.S. Bureau of Internal Revenue was tasked with conducting enforcement of federal drug laws.
  • The DEA Museum's website provides online access to visual archives (both still & video) and educational resources for families and teachers aimed at young children to learn about the DEA's mission, the use & misuse of drugs and the enforcement of drug laws in the USA. 
WIKIPEDIA entry for Harry J. Anslinger (1892 -- 1975)
  • Anslinger was the first person to serve as Commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics (a predecessor of the DEA).  He was a supporter of Prohibition both personally and professionally before he turned his attention to harsh penalties for drug users.  For decades, he zealously targeted marijuana with various propaganda efforts claiming it was a gateway to criminality & societal demise.  He has been considered to be the father of America's "war on drugs" although he was not a big proponent of that particular phrase.
"How to Prevent Cannabis-Induced Psychological Distress . . . in Politicians" (Commentary)
  • Commentary authored by Franjo Grotenhermen.
  • The Lancet.  May 15, 2004.  Volume 363, Issue 9421, Pages 1568-1569.
  • Commenting about an article titled "Psychological and social sequelae of cannabis and other illicit drug use by young people" appearing in the same issue of The Lancet, pages 1579-1588.
"Highs and Lows of Cannabis" (Commentary)
  • Commentary authored by David Sharp.
  • The Lancet.  January 31, 2004.  Volume 363, Issue 9406, Page 344.
  • It is not clear if Sharp was commenting on a specific article that was published by The Lancet

What is Peer-Review?

Peer-review is an evaluation process in which qualified individuals within specialized field of study reviews literature before it becomes published.  This process helps keep standards held by the profession, improves the quality of work being published, and provides credibility & reliability to published work & authors publishing the work. The 3-minute video below describes and discusses the importance of peer-review and its process.

(NCSU video, 3:15 min.)

Authoritative Reference Sources vs Wikipedia

Wikipedia can be a good resource for getting general info about something, but because anyone can contribute or change its content, it is considered unreliable.  College faculty typically do not consider Wikipedia a credible stand-alone information source.

You can turn directly to the sources referenced at the bottom of most Wikipedia entries, to get more detailed information about the nuances & historical items of interest that were summarized by Wikipedia.

You can also supplement or verify the information found in Wikipedia by using the library's print or electronic encyclopedias, dictionaries, or other reference books to backup the basic information of your research paper. These library oriented resources have gone through an editorial process to check for accuracy. 


How to Limit to Peer-Review Journals

Many databases offer a quick way limit your results to peer review literature. Databases, such as Academic Search Premier, have a box to check for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. Below is a screenshot of a database that has a check-box to limit results only to scholarly, peer-reviewed articles.


How to Evaluate Resources (Print & Electronic)

1. Reason

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is scope or purpose specifically stated? Do the contents match the stated scope?
  • Is the point of view stated? Is there a particular agenda that is being pushed?
  • Does it have an established reputation? If so, consider what kind of reputation it represents?
  • What is the publisher's or website host's motivation for providing the information? (Advertising for profit, part of agency's mission, educational purposes, reporting original research, publicizing a particular agenda)
  • What information can be gained about a website's domain code of the host address?
.com = commercial source
.gov = government agency
.org = non-profit organization
.net = consortium (profit or non-profit)
.edu = educational institution

2. Readability

Is the text well written? Is it written in the language of the discipline or for a general audience?
Does the source have features, such as charts, illustrations, or a bibliography, that will be helpful?
Is the information needed to cite the material easily found?
Is there a lot of information available or is the information it provides limited?
Does the document provide references to other more detailed resources (either print or online)? Are links to other Web resources labeled clearly?

3. Reliability

Is objectivity a factor?
Who is the author?
Does the author provide credentials demonstrating expertise or knowledge of the subject?
Is the publisher reputable?
Does the resource contain grammatical, spelling or typographical errors?
Is there any contact information provided?
Are facts, such as statistics, accurate, current, and verifiable? Are sources of information cited?
What sources or methods did the author use to gather the information?
Is the method of obtaining data accurate and dependable?
Is it refereed/peer-reviewed or did just a staff editor review it? Peer-review means a scholar or researcher in the related field has reviewed it before publication.
How frequently is the resource updated?
Are the links to other resources current? And is the page finished or still under construction?

4. References

Does the author list where they get their information from (e.g. footnotes, bibliography, or reference list)
Are there many sources listed?
Are the author's sources reliable?
Can you follow their listed sources to obtain the original information sources?

Gary Klein (Reference Librarian)

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Gary Klein
he / him / his
Mark O. Hatfield Library
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301
Willamette University

Willamette University Libraries

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street.
Salem Oregon 97301
Pacific Northwest College of Art Library
511 NW Broadway.
Portland Oregon 97209