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Nursing Resources

1. When to Use PsycINFO

PsycINFO contains more than one million citations and summaries of journal articles, book chapters, books, dissertations and technical reports, all in the field of psychology. It also includes information about the psychological aspects of related disciplines such as medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, anthropology, business and law. Journal coverage, which spans from 1887 to present, includes international material selected from more than 1,700 periodicals in over 35 languages. Note: this content applies to the EBSCOhost version of this database.

2. PsycINFO Cool Tools

YouTube Channel

PsycINFO maintains a YouTube channel to share tips and tricks for searching in APA databases.

Related Databases

The tips listed here apply to other APA-maintained databases.

  • PsycARTICLES, from the American Psychological Association (APA), is a definitive source of full-text, peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific articles in psychology. The database contains more than 140,000 articles from over 60 journals published by the APA, its imprint the Educational Publishing Foundation (EPF), and from allied organizations including the Canadian Psychological Association and the Hogrefe Publishing Group. It includes all journal articles, book reviews, letters to the editor, and errata from each journal. Coverage spans 1894 to present; nearly all APA journals go back to Volume 1, Issue 1. PsycARTICLES is indexed with controlled vocabulary from APA's Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms.

  • PsycEXTRA
  • PsycEXTRA, produced by the American Psychological Association (APA), is a bibliographic and full-text companion to the scholarly PsycINFO database. The document types included in PsycEXTRA consist of technical, annual and government reports, conference papers, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, consumer brochures and more.

  • PsycTESTS
  • PsycTESTS®, produced by the American Psychological Association (APA), serves as a repository for a growing selection of psychological tests and measures, including thousands of actual test instruments and test items that are available for immediate download and use in research and teaching. International in scope, PsycTESTS® also provides access to an increasing number of tests that are available in languages other than English. PsycTESTS® is an authoritative source of structured information about tests of relevance to psychologists and professionals in related fields such as psychiatry, management, business, education, social science, neuroscience, law, medicine, and social work. While focused on contemporary instances of test use, coverage spans more than a century.

APA Citation Style

APA Academic Writer is a resource maintained by the American Psychological Association. It provides guidance for writing and citing in APA style. Several full-text reference books are included, as well as document templates.

3. How to Use Thesaurus

Controlled Vocabulary: Thesaurus

  • PsycINFO has a thesaurus that you can use to access its controlled vocabulary. These are a standardized set of terms that are used to bring consistency to the searching process. Click here to learn more about the APA Thesaurus used by PsycINFO.
  • Terms are arranged hierarchically by subject categories with more specific terms arranged beneath broader terms.

4. How to Use Keywords

Using Keywords

  • Keyword terms can be single words or phrases.
  • Use quotes around all phrases to ensure that the phrase is searched instead of each word individually. (e.g. “public health”)
  • PsycINFO’s thesaurus lists synonyms for headings which can be useful for finding keywords.
  • To find additional ideas and/or synonyms, consult controlled vocabularies in other subject databases. For example, Embase has a controlled vocabulary called Emtree. Emtree records contain synonym lists similar to the "entry terms" listed beneath a heading in a MeSH record. The Emtree synonym list often contains European spellings/variations.

Keyword Generation

Keywords can be generated by:

  • browsing entry terms in PubMed's MeSH database and synonyms in Embase's Emtree database to add additional keywords to a concept.
  • looking at a few key articles and seeing how the terminology is used.
  • doing a few preliminary searches and browsing the results to see how the terminology is used.

5. PsycINFO Pro Tips


You can use fields to specify where the database looks for the search term. In PsycINFO, first type the field and then the search term.

TI "autism spectrum disorder" will return autism spectrum disorder in the title of the record

  • TI — Searches the Title field
  • AB — Searches the Abstract field
  • AB OR TI — Searches the Abstract field and the Title Field at the same time
  • AU — Searches the Author field
  • AF — Searches the Author Affiliation field (organization or university the researcher works for)
  • SO — Searches the Publication field (field to enter names of journals)
  • MH — Searches the exact PsycINFO subject heading, searching both major and minor headings
  • MM — Searches the exact PsycINFO subject heading, searching only in major headings
  • More information on PsycINFO field descriptions and tags.

Applying Filters

On the left side of the screen, you will see an option to "Refine Results" with options for Source Types, Publication, Subject Headings, Language, Age, Gender, etc. To access the complete list of options for limits, click on the “Advanced Search” link beneath the search boxes at the top of the page.

Truncation and Wildcards

In PsycINFO you can use a * at the root of a word to find multiple endings.  For example:

arthroplast* will return arthroplasty, arthroplasties, arthroplastic, arthroplastics, etc.

mobili* will return mobility, mobilization, mobilisation, mobilize, etc.

  • You can also use a ? as a wildcard to search for letter variants within a word (e.g. wom?n finds women and woman)
  • In PsycINFO you can use truncation and phrase searching at the same time. e.g. "early childhood mobili*"

Proximity Searching

PsycINFO allows for proximity searching through the use of two operators (N or W), along with a number to indicate the proximity of the words (up to 255 words).

  • N operator: The N operator stands for “Near Operator." Typing N5 would find two words within 5 words of each other without considering the order in which the words are entered. (therapy N5 sleep) looks for the word “therapy” within 5 words of sleep.
  • W operator: The W operator stands for "Within Operator." Typing W5 follows the order the words are typed. (therapy W5 sleep) would find the phrase “therapy for improved sleep,” but it would not find “sleep therapy” 

6. Combining Search Terms and Concepts

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators MUST be used as upper case (AND, OR, NOT).

Go to the “Advanced Search” page to combine searches (in PsycINFO this is typically the default homepage).

A comprehensive and systematic search of PsycINFO includes both controlled vocabulary and keyword terms (i.e. free text, natural language, and synonyms). Boolean operators are used to combine search terms. In PsycINFO, you can use the operators AND, OR, and NOT.

  • OR - use OR between similar keywords, like synonyms, acronyms, and variations in spelling within the same idea or concept
  • AND - use AND to link ideas and concepts where you want to see both ideas or concepts in your search results
  • NOT - use to exclude specific keywords from the search, however, you will want to use NOT with caution because you may end up missing something important

7. Saving Your Searches

  • By saving your search, your strategy will be reproducible for another time and properly documented.
  • Explore options for citation management here, and find tips on how to export results.
  • To save searches in PsycINFO create an EBSCPhost account by clicking on the “Sign In” link in the upper-right corner of the screen. Then, click on “Search History” underneath the search boxes and “Save searches/Alerts.”
  • Create an alert within PsycINFO to receive updates on a topic. Follow the same steps for saving a search, but choose "Alert" instead.

8. PDF Printable Handout