Searching PsycINFO


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What is PsycINFO?

PsycINFO is a robust database that contains full-text articles as well as citations and abstracts to articles in journals, dissertations, and book chapters in all areas of psychology.


Keyword Search

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For this first activity, you will research the question:

Which types of drugs are effective in treating teenagers with clinical depression? 

 Your Turn:

  • Use the main search box to enter teens AND depression AND drugs
  • Don't forget the ANDs because PsycINFO defaults to Boolean Searching
  • Click Search

Keyword Search

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How many results did you get?

Keyword Search

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Take a few minutes to skim your results.

Use the magnifying glass to read the abstract.

How relevant do you think these results are to our topic?


Thesaurus Search

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Let's try a different type of search that will get you more relevant results.

PsycINFO tags every record with a term from the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms®. 


Click Thesaurus at the top of the screen


Thesaurus Search

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Remember our research question:

Which types of drugs are effective in treating teenagers with clinical depression?

Your Turn:

  • Search the thesaurus for depression
  • Click Browse


Thesaurus Search

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The thesaurus does not include the term "depression." What two terms does the thesaurus use for "depression"?


Thesaurus Search

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Your Turn:

  • Click the link for major depression
  • Click major depression again

The scope and history notes along with narrower and related terms are very helpful in helping you decide whether or not to use a particular term.

Thesaurus Search

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Read the scope and notes carefully.

Is this the correct term for articles on clinical depression?


Thesaurus Search

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Once we have the correct term, there are many ways we can use it.

First, make sure that you can see the entire page including the columns for Explode and Major Concept.

Your Turn:

  • Check the box next to Major depression
  • Also check the boxes under Explode and Major Concept

By checking Explode, you include more terms in your search.

By checking Major Concept, you locate records where the term is a major point of the paper. 

Thesaurus Search

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                     One more step!

Click Add.

Look at your main search box. Which additional terms were automatically added to it?

Thesaurus Search

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Next, let's find a good term to use for the other part of our research question, drugs.

Your Turn:

  • Search the thesaurus for drugs
  • Click on the Drugs link


Thesaurus Search

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There are many different category of drugs listed. We don't want to include them all.

  • Since we are only interested in depression and drugs, click the link for Antidepressant Drugs

Thesaurus Search

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Listed are all the names of different drugs used to treat depression.

  • Check the box next to Antidepressant Drugs
  •  Also check the Explode box to include all these other terms

  Do not click Major Concept

  • Remember: Change the OR to AND and click ADD.


Thesaurus Search

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Take a look at the search you built. We added loads of terms.

  • Now click Search next to the main search box.


Skim your results. To get more information on them, hover on the magnifying glass


That brought us back over 12,000 results. Too many results, and too many irrelevant results!


Refine Results

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Let's narrow these down some.

Remember we are looking for research articles about teenagers, so let's focus on that.

Another way to get more precise results is to use the limiters in the Refine Results menu on the left.

Refine for the following:

  • Limit to: Academic Journals
  • Publication Date: 1998 - today (use the slider to set the year)
  • Age: adolescence (13-17 yrs)

That brings us back around 400 results, but let's keep refining them.

Refine Results

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PsycINFO allows you to search for articles by the methodology used in the research study including different types of Empirical Research

  • Under Methodology, check Empirical Study

Now take a look at your results.

These articles are more narrowed to our research question and only include empirical studies.

Useful Tools

  • Click the title of the first article listed

There are a number of helpful tools you can use including emailing the record, printing, and saving it.

  • Click the Cite tool

This tool gives you the citation for different citation style formats such as APA.

Cited References

Another great tool is the Cited References link, located on the left-side menu.

  • Click Cited References


Not every record has this feature, but when available PsycINFO lists all of the sources this article cited and even a link to the record.

Tests & Measures: Search

1 of 5PsycINFO allows you to search for the names of tests and measures included in a research study.

For this activity you will have a new question:

Which tests are used to screen for Attention Deficit Disorder?

Your Turn:

  • Click New Search


Tests & Measures: Search

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Records in PsycINFO receive a classification code, which is used to categorize it according to the primary subject matter.

  • Using the main Search Options menu in the middle of your screen,
  • Scroll down and locate the Classification Codes box
  • Select 2224 Clinical Psychological Testing
  • Click Search


Tests & Measures: Search

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  • Scroll back up to the search box
  • Enter Attention Deficit Disorder in the search box
  • Change the field you are searching to DE (Subjects) exact


  • Click Search

Let's see which tests are used.

Tests & Measures: Search

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Your Turn:

  • Click on the article "Clinical use of the Pediatric Attention Disorders Diagnostic Screener for Children at risk..."
  • Scroll down and locate the Tests & Measures field

What is the name of the first test used or discussed in this study?


Tests & Measures: Browse

1 of 3You can also browse for tests by using the indexes. This works best when you know the name of the test.

Your Turn:

  • Hover on the More link at the top
  • Click Indexes

Tests & Measures: Browse

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  • In the Browse an Index drop down menu, select Tests & Measures

  • In the Browse for box, search for Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scale
  • Click Browse

Tests & Measures: Browse

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Displayed are all the tests that include this name

The Records Count Column indicates how many records in the database include this test.

  • Click the box next to any of the tests

When tests have similar names they are often alternate spellings of the same test.

  • Click Add to add this test to your search
  • Click Search

Displayed are all the articles that discuss this test.

Tests & Measures: Appended

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PsycINFO can also help you find articles that include sample test items or entire tests. These are reported in the record as "Appended"

Your Turn:

  • Click New Search
  • Enter stress in the search box
  • Change the field you are searching to DE (Subjects) exact

  Don't click Search yet!

Tests & Measures: Appended

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  • Using the Search Options menu, scroll and locate the Tests & Measures box
  • Enter Appended
  • Click Search


Tests & Measures: Appended

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  • Click on the article "Minority Stressors and Psychological Distress in Transgender Individuals"
  • Scroll down to the Tests & Measures field

Note that the test Gender and Sexual Minority Microaggressions Scale is marked as [Appended].

  • Scroll down until you see the questions in the document

Note: When tests are marked as appended, they may contain sample items in the text of the paper or as an appendix. Open up full-text or find a link to supplemental materials.

Tests & Measures: Appended

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What is the first item on this test?


All Done!

You have completed this introductory tutorial to PsycINFO

Feel free to explore PsycINFO and learn more about how it can help you in your research.

To leave us feedback on this tutorial, go on to the next page.