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PSYC 220: Research Methods, Spring 2017: Find Scholarly Articles

Psychology Databases

Searching PsycINFO

1) When you navigate to PsycINFO, you'll first be asked to select the years you would like to search. For the most powerful searches, it is best to select one of the PsycINFO options, rather than All or PsycArticles. PsycINFO contains citations from over 2,000 publications, where as PsycArticles contains only select publications from the American Psychological Association. PsycINFO also contains a thesaurus than allows for more specific searches. 


2) The next step is to select a search option. The default option is Advanced Search. Here you can search by keyword, author, article title, or journal title. Note: The default Keyword option searches for your terms in the title, abstract, heading word, table of contents, key concepts, original title, and tests & measures fields, not in the full text of the article.


3. A more powerful option is to use the Thesaurus to combine several search terms into one search. The thesaurus limits the vocabulary that is used to describe the "aboutness" of articles so that they can be located more efficiently. 

For example, say you wanted to find articles on changing opinions on gay marriage. Click on the Search Tools link, limit the dropdown menu to Thesaurus, and add a search for the word opinion.

In the next screen, you will see a box that says that opinion was not found in the Thesaurus, but it will map it to a suggestion of attitude measures. As you browse through the list, you can also select a term that more appropriatly matches your research question. In the box below, we have selected Attitude Change. Then click Continue.


4) Once you have performed searches for several terms in the Thesaurus, you can combine them using the Search History tab. For example, below we have added another Thesaurus search for homosexuality or same sex marriage. If we combine these by clicking on the And icon, we can search for articles that are about these two thesaurus terms. 


5. The result will be a third search that combines the previous two searches to retrieve 26 relevant articles to this topic. Scroll down to see the article results.

More Advanced Features

Two other important features include the Find Cited Articles and the Find Citation tools.

1) Once you have located a relevant article, the Find Cited Articles option gives you a list of articles that have cited that relevant article. This is an excellent way to locate similar articles and track a topic through the literature.

2) The Find Citation tool enables you to enter citation information about a specific article and locate it in PsycINFO. This is relevant for finding articles you come across in bibliographies or elsewhere in your research.

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