Lesson S-4

PsycINFO: To Find Scholarly
Literature In Psychology

PsycINFO is the most comprehensive index to scholarly and professional literature in psychology.  It now contains information for 1.5 million journal articles, book chapters, books, and dissertation, with some from as far back as the late 19th century.  It currently indexes and abstracts about 1,400 journals, comprehensively covering the journals directly related to psychology and selectively covering others that sometimes have articles related to psychology. 


  • PsycINFO's coverage of the psychological literature is far greater than any other index.
  • PsycINFO permits complex searches.
  • Each resource has been assigned one or more of about 100 classification codes, making it easy to search broadly a sub-field of psychology.
  • Each resource has also been assigned multiple index terms from the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms, allowing narrow searches with a fixed vocabulary.
  • Abstracts are provide online for all sources except the dissertations.
  • Subscribers to the American Psychological Association's Full Text Database have online access to the full text of about 35 leading journals.  The full text is generally available for issues published since 1990.
  • PsycINFO is available on the American Psychological Association's Web site only to members who subscribe to at least one APA journal.  The same database, however, is available at almost all university libraries through many different vendors, either online or on CD-ROM. 
  • The main disadvantage is that only subscribers can access full text, and that is limited to 35 leading journals.
Trail Guide

The following resources will help you use PsycINFO in a powerful and efficient manner.

  1. The main web site for PsycINFO is at http://www.psycinfo.com. Hint: several of the main links from this page are shown only at the very top and bottom.  GWU students can access PsycINFO by going to the Gelman Library home page, clicking on "Databases", then clicking on "ALADIN 'Article and Other Databases'", selecting "Alphabetical List" and finally clicking on "PsycINFO".

  3. Specific guides for interdisciplinary applications of PsycINFO can be found at http://www.psycinfo.com/srchtips/applicat1b.html.  These are useful for people doing research in education, human resource development, and other fields that partially overlap with the field of psychology.

  5. The American Psychological Association sells a print guide explaining the use of PsycINFO. It is called "Search PsycINFO: Student Workbook" and sells for $15.00 [ISBN:1-55798-056-X].
First Aid

If you encounter trouble when doing PsycINFO searches, review the resources listed above under Trail Guide.  If that doesn't help, seek the assistance of your reference librarian. If that doesn't solve your problem, contact PsycINFO User Services at psycinfo@apa.org or 1-800-374-2722 between 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. 

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