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SE 10 - Research Design - Fall 2021 - Prof. Garrison: Guide to PsycINFO


PsycINFO Guide

Guide to PsycINFO

The PsycINFO database contains records of international literature in psychology, psychiatry, and related disciplines. Sources include citations and abstracts to over 1,400 professional journals, books, book chapters, reports, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations.  No book reviews.  Nearly all citations after 1966 have abstracts; the UC-eLinks provide call numbers to print copies of the journals and/or full-text online when available.  NEW: Beginning in 2001, many citations (click on "View Record") include references, their abstracts, and links to cited references.



1840 - 1966 (citations & abstracts only)

1967 - present (citations, abstracts & descriptors)



From the Libraries' home page,  click on FIND ONLINE RESOURCES or DATABASES TO GET YOU STARTED link. Depress the Databases tab and enter PsycINFO or Click on P in the alphabet strip under Browse. Then click on "Databases" and scroll to PsycINFO and click on entry. 



Text entered in the Quick Search window will search “Anywhere” in the record.  This usually creates results too large and unwieldy to be useful.  Instead choose the Advanced Search tab. 



Use the Advanced Search screen to combine different types of searches and to limit/refine your search.  Scroll down the Advanced Search screen to see these options, such as Date Range, Journal Articles Only, and Publication Type (empirical study may be selected from the Publication Type menu).


In the search windows near the top of the screen, use the pull-down menus to select the type of search you want to do.  The “Anywhere” default will likely generate too many records—instead, choose Keywords or other menu choices.  Keywords searching scans the words in the article titles, descriptors (main subjects of the record), and abstracts (summaries). Your search terms will be searched as an exact phrase (e.g., eating disorder*).  If you need more search lines, click on Add Row, which is at the upper right of the search windows.


Advanced Search example:


internet                                             Keywords, KW=            


college students                Descriptors,  DE=


Limited to:  R Journal Articles Only

                    R English only


Publication Type             empirical study


At the bottom of each screen of results, the Advanced Search

that generated the list of records is displayed.  Use it to refine the existing search results, such as

- add, replace, or delete search terms; change the limits

- change the search field (e.g., from Keywords to Descriptors)

OR enter a new search – click on Clear and begin anew.


Search the PsycINFO Thesaurus to identify standardized subject headings--called descriptors--used in the PsycINFO database. Click on Thesaurus at the bottom of the Advanced Search screen, or, next to the Advanced Search tab, click on Search Tools, then on the Thesaurus tab. Note the definitions and tips at the first Thesaurus screen.  Type your search terms in the search window, then click on Go.  Enter single concepts (e.g., alcohol), not concepts you plan to combine (e.g., drinking and academic achievement).  To combine concepts, see next page.


When your results are displayed, click on the descriptor to see if there are Broader, Narrower, and/or Related Terms.  To retrieve all PsycINFO records to which a descriptor has been assigned, check the box next to the descriptor to select it, then click on Go to generate the list of results. 


To search for multiple, similar descriptors from the Thesaurus--such as Divorce and Divorced Persons--and create one list of records that have either term as a descriptor, check the box next to each in the Thesaurus list, check the OR operator (“to broaden”), and click on Go.



Your search results appear in “Most Recent First” order.  Use the tabs across the top of your search results to see sub-sets of your total  results, such as only the records from Peer-Reviewed Journals. To see all sub-set result categories, click on More at the far right of the horizontal tabs.


At the last line of each short-format record, click on View Record to see the full record--not the full-text--and abstract for a specific citation. To change the display format for all records retrieved, scroll to the bottom left of the results list and choose from the pull-down options in the Show window.  Click on Go to redisplay the record in the new format. 


Beginning with records loaded in 2001, lists of references appear at the end of each PsycINFO record for journal articles, books, and book chapters.  Many have hotlinks to abstracts and to publications that cite them. 



To see if the UC Irvine Libraries have a specific journal or book, click on the orange UC-eLINKS (at the bottom of each short-format record; at the top of each full-format record).  The new UC-eLinks window offers the option to:

1)     Link directly to the online full-text article, if available, or

2)     Search UCI’s ANTPAC Catalog and display the UCI call number if the libraries own the specific book or journal --in paper copy and/or online full-text, or

3)     Request an Interlibrary Loan for items that are not available in the UCI Libraries.  This service is for currently-enrolled UCI students, faculty and staff only.  Allow 5-10 days for delivery.  Usually there is no cost. 


NEED HELP?  Not finding anything useful?

At any PsycINFO search screen, click on Help & Support at the upper right.  UCI’s Ask a Librarian services can also assist you:


While reviewing search results in the short format, click in the box next to the record number for each record you want to print, save, or email. In the long format, this box is at the top.  Click on the Save, Print, Email button at the top of the results list; on the next screen, note the number of Marked Records.


Select options for record format—the default is Short format. To email the marked records, scroll down to the Email button and enter an email address. Click on Email to mail records, Save to download, or Print to format records for printing. 


Note:  Emailed PsycINFO records include your search strategy but not full-text of the articles.  The option to email online full-text articles varies, depending on the full-text provider and your email's ability to receive full-text (as html, as pdf, etc.) To email the full-text of articles, display each article in full-text on the screen and look for links to email there or in the tool-bar.


Use QuikBib to format your List of References in APA format (or choose from a brief list of other formats/styles): In the Save, Print, Email screen, note Create a Bibliography with QuikBib.  Using the records you’ve marked, choose a document format, such as RTF or MS Word, then click on Create to have QuikBib automatically format the records in APA format.  You may cut and paste this list into your document, adjust for font and spacing, and preserve the hanging indent characteristic of APA 5th format.



Before exiting PsycINFO or being timed out, return to earlier searches/search results during your session by clicking on Search History (at upper right of the screen).  This lists all searches, including the most recent, in reverse chronological order.  In each search record, you may click on:

 - Save as Alert – to have PsycINFO automatically run the search each week and email you the newest records

 - Run Search – to re-display those search results

 - Save – to store a search strategy for 6 months--often a carefully refined  one containing several terms combined in precise AND and OR relationships.

 - Combine searches – Combine results from two or more searches in this list; use the window below Search #1

Click on Help & Support (upper right) for more details and screen shots describing these database features.



SEARCH TIPS in Advanced Search

At the bottom of each search results screen is the search that created it. Edit your search here.


Refining too-large search results

As appropriate, use the options available below the search windows, such as Date Range, Journal Articles Only, and English Only.  In the following pull-down menus, choose more than one limit by holding down the Ctrl key:

 - Publication Type

 - Language

 - Population

 - Age

 - Audience

At the Publication Type pull-down menu, consider choosing empirical study or literature review.


Change the default search field, Anywhere, to Keywords searching.  Examine the descriptors in the most relevant records, and edit them into your search--replace keywords in your search with descriptors to shorten the results list and improve relevancy.


Replace broad search terms with narrower ones, such as long term memory instead of memory.  Use the Thesaurus to identify narrower terms (see first page, upper right).


Ask a Librarian for assistance:  see


Improving zero or too-small search results

 - Double-check spelling

 - Use truncation/wildcard (asterisk*) to retrieve similar words—click on Help & Support (upper right of screen), then on Index, then on Wildcard Symbols for description/examples.

 - If you used limits, especially in Publication Type, Population, Age, or Audience, consider changing one or more to Unlimited, or choose more than one from the pull-down menus to broaden the search.  Hold down the Ctrl key to select more than one item from the menus.

 - Add synonymous terms to one or more search lines (terms connected with OR), such as   drinking  or  alcohol*

 - Use the Thesaurus (see first page, upper right) to find Related, Narrower, and Broader descriptors to add to your search.

 - Change one search line at a time from Descriptors searching to Keywords searching.

 - When two or more search lines (connected with AND) were used, remove the least crucial line. 

 - If an author’s name comes up several times in relevant records, click on it to see all records in PsycINFO by him/her.

 - For records from 2001 and newer, click on View Record and look for a list of references at the end of the record, which could contain useful citations on the same topic.

 - Perform your search in another, related Article Database, such as Sociological Abstracts, ERIC (education), or PubMed (medicine).  Consult the online Subject Guides, each of which has an annotated list of sources for finding journal articles: 

For additional information - contact Liaison Librariani or Ask a Librarian


These are ways that you can Limit or Restrict your search to a higher degree of relevancy (found at the end of the Advanced Search screen or can be entered in search box by using the drop down menus:



Authored book

Autobiography / Biography

Auxillary material included



Book handbook / manual

Book reference work

Book study guide / workbook

Book textbook

Case study


Clinical case report

Clinical trial


Conference proceedings / symposia

Dissertation abstract

Double blind design

Edited book


Empirical study


Experimental replication

Followup study


Journal abstract

Journal Article

Journal column / opinion

Journal editorial

Journal information

Journal letter

Journal obituary

Journal review - book

Journal review - software/video/other


Literature Review

Longitudinal Study

Meta analysis

Peer-reviewed journal

Professional policy / standard

Program evaluation

Prospective Study

Qualitative study

Quantitative study



Retrospective Study

Secondary publication

Single blind design

Test / survey outcome

Treatment outcomes











Childhood (birth-12 yrs)    

Neonatal ( birth-1 mo)        

Infancy (1-23 mo)                     

Preschool Age (2-5 yrs)           

School Age (6-12 yrs)               

Adolescence (13-17 yrs)

Adulthood (18 yrs & older)

Young Adulthood (18-29 yrs)

Thirties (30-39 yrs)

Middle Age (40-64 yrs)

Aged (65 yrs & older)

Very Old (85 yrs & older)