Use the tabs at the top of this box to navigate through the pages of this tutorial.
PsycINFO is the main database used for locating articles within scholarly journals in Psychology. Produced by the American Psychological Association, and available on the ProQuest platform, PsycINFO is the first place to look for research in Psychology. It is NOT a full-text database.
It provides descriptions (citations) for:
Links are provided from these citations to the full text when it is available. links also search our online resources for further access to full text.
PsycINFO offers a variety of search options - from a broad keyword search to a highly controlled search. Understand the options available to improve your results. Since it's designed for Psychology scholars, it offers search options of unique to Psychology.
Also see the ProQuest guide to PsycINFO.
In PsycINFO, a basic search finds your keywords in the:
of the citation of an article. If you've assigned your own tags to an item, it will search those too.
It can't search the full text of an article, because there is no full text in the PsycINFO database - only citations. Choose search terms that will show up in descriptions of articles.
See the ProQuest Help page for Basic Search if you'd like more details on a basic search.
In the Keyword Searching Tutorial, we explained that truncation is a valuable trick for finding multiple endings on a word. For instance, searching for "educat*" finds "educate", "educated", "education", etc.
In PsycINFO, it's not as important to think about this, because the ProQuest interface provides automatic truncation. You don't need to use * at the end of a root to find all forms of a word, because the system will look for them anyway.
If you do choose to use truncation, it disables the automatic truncation and ONLY searches for what you enter. Sometimes this is helpful.
The basic search is a very broad search that often finds items of limited value. The only control you have with this search is to limit your findings to "Peer reviewed" or "Scholarly journals".
Sometimes this is a good way to get started, and you can get ideas from your results to help you narrow your search or limit your results. However, you can control your results better by using an "Advanced Search".
In PsycINFO, an Advanced Search provides several search boxes, each allowing you to specify where you want your keywords to appear (i.e. what field they're in). This helps control the relevancy of your results. Click on the arrow to select locations to search: author, title, subjects, abstract, affiliation, etc.
The default is Anywhere, which is often fine as a starting point. (Keep in mind that this WON'T search the text of an article because there is no full text in this database - only citations.)
The search boxes are joined with AND, OR, or NOT. (See the Keyword Searching Tutorial for an explanation of these operators.) Note that, as with the basic search, ProQuest provides automatic truncation and the full text of articles is NOT searched for your terms.
The Advanced Search provides many options for narrowing down (limiting) your results, explained below.
Every record in PsycINFO has a Classification Code - a code used to categorize a document according to the primary subject.
The Advanced Search page also offers a selection of limitations to help identify exactly what you need to find.
You can limit a search by:
All of these are available on the Advanced Search page. Here's a screen capture of the page (it's long!):
PsycINFO offers detailed searching through a controlled vocabulary of Subject Terms. The controlled vocabulary is a specific list of Terms used to describe an item. In this case the terms are controlled by the publisher (PsycINFO) and applied consistently by scholarly staff who determine which terms should be applied. This is significant because we can be confident that the same terminology is applied in the same way to each article, linking relevant items. (Most databases rely on authors to provide subject terms, causing inconsistency in how they're applied.)
The Thesaurus tells you if the term entered is an official Subject Term. It explains what each Subject Term means and how it's used. It also provides a list of:
Search the Thesaurus for a Subject Term that "Starts with" or "Contains" the word you enter.
Here's a marked-up screen capture showing how to use the Thesaurus results:
Subject Terms can be helpful in other ways.
Here's a marked-up screen capture showing how to narrow your results:
In PsycINFO, the results are first presented in short form, so that many can fit on a screen. This Results list provides information and options:
All of these options are presented on the Results screen. Here's what it looks like:
A record describes an item in the database in detail. PsycINFO records are citations - descriptions of articles, conference proceedings, or book sections.
Here's marked-up screen capture of the full view of a record:
The ProQuest interface offers options for dealing with your results and your searches.
Find this option directly under the Search bar to: