Before You Begin | Starting
Your Search | Modifying Results | Displaying
and Printing Results | Creating an Email Alert
The PsycINFO database,
produced by the American Psychological Association, contains citations
and summaries of journal articles, book chapters, books, and technical
reports, as well as citations to dissertations in the field of psychology.
Journal coverage spans1887 to the present and includes international material
selected from more than 1,300 periodicals written in over 25 languages.
Current chapter and book coverage includes worldwide English-language
material published from 1987 to the present. Over 55,000 references are
added annually through weekly updates.
The Vanderbilt University
Web version of the PsycINFO
database is restricted to Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff.
This guide is designed to help searchers use the WebSPIRS 5.1 interface.
Things to Know Before
searching is used to connect concepts. There are several operators that
allow you to form sophisticated search requests:
searches for records that contain both (or all) terms.
OR searches for records that contain either (or any one) of the search terms.
NOT searches for records that contain one term but
IN searches for records that contain a term in a
NEAR searches for records that contain terms in the
WITH searches for records that contain
terms in the same field.
Searched as a Phrase: physical attractiveness
Combined: physical attractiveness AND
A topic broadened
with a synonym: physical attractiveness OR
is used to search for all forms of a word. Use * to
retrieve different possible word endings. Use ? to
try various letters in the middle of words.
retrieves child, child's, children, children's, etc.
will retrieve woman, women.
should be used to group terms joined by OR in a complex search statement.
attractiveness OR beauty) AND self-esteem
Starting Your Search
- Develop a search
statement by deciding what the key concepts of your
topic are and if you have any specific limitations
that you wish to impose (such as a certain type of publication, population,
geographic region, or language).
- Open PsycINFO
from the Articles &
and How Do I...? links lead to information about searching
PsycINFO, such as the fields used in the database, how to narrow a
search, and how to use advanced search features. If you are just learning
how to use PsycINFO, you may want to keep coming back to these resources.
When you aren't
sure where to start, you can try the Suggest button
(underneath the search box). It will attempt to match your word or
phrase with valid "descriptors" (otherwise known as subject headings).
tab lets you select search terms from the list of words and phrases
that are indexed in PsycINFO. This can be useful in determining whether
a word is frequently used in the database, or whether other synonyms
should be explored.
useful tab is the one pointing to the Thesaurus,
which is a searchable list of subject headings or descriptors
used in PsycINFO, along with links to broader, narrower, and related
Type the search
you developed in the entry box. If you do not want the default Find
Terms "Anywhere" search, use the pulldown to search "in
Subjects", "in Authors", or "in Titles".
Note: a Subject search only looks for terms in the Descriptors
and Key Phrases.
select the Advanced tab to find terms in specific
fields of the record. Type a word or phrase in the Search Box and
highlight the field you want to search. If you want to link two concepts
together click on the AND, OR, or NOT buttons between the two Search
Boxes. You can also type multiple words in a Search Box.
Ways to Modify Your Search
- Combining searches
Building a search
in steps and using the Search History allows you to see which
terms are productive or problematic. Search each concept individually,
click on the 'Search History' tab, then check the boxes next to the
searches you wish to combine.
Beginning a search
request with an operator automatically combines that request with
the previous one. For instance, if your first search was "anger",
searching for "and driving-behavior" would give you the same results
as if you had typed in the search "anger and driving-behavior" or
"#1 and driving-behavior."
Within the search
results, PsycINFO provides a "Find Similar" option. Clicking
the button searches for additional references with the same words
in the titles and descriptors. The results may vary in relevance:
unfortunately, there is no way for you to specify the words that you
find most significant - except by performing your own searches.
Change the Search
To retrieve only
particular Document Types (books, journal articles), Publication Types
(empirical studies, literature reviews), Populations (human or animal),
Age Groups, etc., click the More button. This will give you
an expandable menu of limiting options.
- The first 10 matching
results will be automatically displayed. You can select or Mark
relevant records for printing, downloading, or e-mailing by clicking
the small box to the upper left of each individual record entry.
Type field at the top will display Journal-Article
or Peer-Reviewed-Journal for journal records.
The button links
you through to the fulltext of the article, lets you search Acorn for copies in print or other online services, and, if necessary,
provides an easy link to interlibrary loans.
Creating an Email Alert (SDI)
- The SDI feature
allows you to save searches that will automatically run against the
PsycINFO database, with new references sent to your email. You can access
this feature by performing a search, then clicking on the Search
History tab. More details on this procedure are available in the
and Re-running Searches Automatically guide.
When You Have Finished
- Click the Logout
button in the top right corner when you have finished searching.