Getting Started with PsycINFO

Top Five Search Tips for PsycINFO

There are many ways to limit a search in PsycINFO to get a more relevant search result:

1. Choose fields in the search boxes from the dropdown menus to make a search more specific. A search for a word in the title of the article will find fewer but more specific articles, generally, than one that finds the term in an abstract or the text of the article.

For example, searching for PTSD in a title found 2000+ articles in PsycINFO, but searching with PTSD anywhere in the record gets seven times as many-- more than 14,000 citations.

2. Choose to search with an author's name. Check the index of authors' names if you're not sure, or just use the last name, but choose the author field in the search box.

For example, use Bandura, Albert (213 hits), or use just Bandura (more than 1200+ hits). Bandura, A. only gets three. As you can see, the form of the name matters. You may check the author index to get forms of a specific person's name.

3. On the lower part of the search screen, you can limit by language, by the type of article or study, (methodology, including empirical studies), by the intended audience for the publication, by the population studied, by gender, by age, and other ways.

4. You can limit by date, by type of publication, and by subject descriptors, after you have done a search, using the tools on the left side of the screen.

5. If you use the terminology from the thesaurus, or find the descriptors at the foot of citations that you like the looks of, and click on them to retrieve results that are tagged with them, you are likely to get more relevant search results.

If you have trouble with any of this, feel free to contact me.

Boolean operators

Search PsycINFO using your chosen terms, along with Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT (or the operators in the dropdown menus); the truncation symbol gets variations such as other word endings and plural forms.

For example, a search like: (anxiety or depression) and parenting style and child*

should work much better than using a complete sentence, such as "Does parenting style affect anxiety or depression in adult children?" because the software tries to find the whole sentence if you type one in.

Want a phrase instead of individual words to be found? Put the phrase "in quotes." For example: "altruistic behavior." Be aware that this will limit your search. The word altruism by itself produced ten times as many citations as the phrase "altruistic behavior."

Use the "Find It" button to locate items. PsycArticles should include full text of the articles found. PsycINFO may or may not have the full text attached to the citation.