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Psychology: Searching PsycINFO

Research help and links to psychology related library resources at the Jack C. Taylor Library - Fontbonne University.

What is PsycINFO?

PsycINFO® is an expansive abstracting and indexing database with more than 3 million records devoted to peer-reviewed literature in the behavioral sciences and mental health, making it an ideal discovery and linking tool for scholarly research in a host of disciplines.

PsycINFO's Coverage

  • Applied psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Experimental human and animal psychology
  • Personality
  • Psychological and physical disorders
  • Neuroscience
  • Personnel and issues
  • Psycometrics and statistics
  • Social processes and issues
  • Sport psychology
  • Treatment and prevention

More PsycINFO Tutorials

American Psychological Association (APA) has created training videos for PsycINFO. Below are links to training vidoes which demonstrate PsycINFO on the on the EBSCOhost platform.

You can view all of the APA's PsycINFO videos by clicking here.

Fine-Tuning PsycINFO searches

1.) Surround your search term with double quotations”______”. You are telling the database to look for your terms that are right next to each other, i.e. “false memories.”

2.) Look for partial word matches by using the * (asterisk). This will retrieve variations of the root word or phrase. For example, child* will return children.

3.) Think of nouns related to your subject. These will be better keywords to search than adjectives, prepositions,  or pronouns.  For example, “false memories in children.” You should combine the main ideas, such as “false memories and children.”

4.) Limit your search. Many of the databases allow you to limit a search by publication, language, etc. If the date is not limited, the entire database will be searched. Examples of limiters for PsycINFO include: Peer-Reviewed, Publication Type, and Intended Audience.

5.) When a database offers a choice between an ADVANCED or BASIC search mode, it is  best to choose the advanced mode. You will be able to retrieve more focused results.

6.) Experiment to find the best combination of search terms. PsycINFO has an online Thesaurus to help you find the best term. To browse a list of searching headings in PsycINFO, see their online Thesaurus.

7.) Search specific index fields or combination of certain fields to refine your search - Keyword Search, Title Search, Author Search, Subject Search, Abstract Search,

PsycINFO's Theseaurs: Understanding Subject Terms

PsycINFO has a thesaurus that lists the terms that are being used to describe the items indexed in the database-- what they are 'about. Identifying the right subject terms used in the database can help to focus a search to find the articles that are the best fit for your psychology research. The video on the left, created by APA Training, shows an example of finding and using terms from the PsycINFO thesaurus.

Quick Tips:

  1. Click on the "Thesaurus" link in the blue banner at the top of the PsycINFO search screen.
  2. In the Browse box, type in a search term.
  3. Click on the Browse button and select from the results list.

 APA Guide to Using PsycINFO


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