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Database Help

A guide with tips and videos to improve your database searching.


APA PsycInfo is a psychological and behavioral science database that includes over 4 million abstracts for peer-reviewed articles and book chapters from the early 1800s to the present. 

It is a partially full text database, meaning that PDFs for some articles will be discoverable in PsycInfo. For others, click on the "Check Reed Holdings" link to see if we subscribe to full text through another database platform. If that is not successful, you can always make an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request to gain access to the article.

Basic Search

Basic Search Tips:

  1. The default search in PsycInfo searches title, author, abstract, keywords, subjects, and translated title. In order to conduct more targeted searches, use Boolean operators, specific search fields, and filters.
  2. Search a specific field by selecting it from the drop-down menu. For a list of all fields see
    • AU searches for authors. For best results, enter as [last name, initial]. Wildcards and truncation work for author names.
    • TI searches for titles. You can search both complete or partial titles.
    • DE searches the subject headings assigned to the article by the APA indexer. [Must be exact subjects.]
    • KW searches the keywords assigned to the article.
    • SU searches subject headings and keywords together.
    • TM searches the tests and measures used in the study.
Table of search operators, use, and examples
Operator Use Example
OR At least one term must appear liver OR cirrhosis
AND Both terms must appear addiction AND behavior
NOT Exclude one term lung AND NOT cancer
" " Exact phrase search, looks for the exact phrase or word "behavior" returns behavior not behaviour
( ) Search inside the parentheses is executed first (snake OR frog) and behavior
* Wildcard search, looks for the root word and alternate endings or beginnings therap* will return therapy, therapies, therapist, therapists, therapeutic, etc.
? Wildcard search, looks for the word with any single character in place of the ? wom?n will return women, woman, womyn, etc.
N# Proximity search, terms must be # number of words near each other, in any order therapy N/5 sleep
W# Proximity search, terms must be # number of words near each other, in a order "whole genome" W/4 sequence

Limiting Results:

  • Use facets on the left-hand side to limit results by:
    • Age: The age of participants in the study (only applies to humans).
    • Methodology: The methodology of the study (clinical case study, literature review, etc.). For definitions see
    • Population: The group of participants in the study (human, animal, etc.).
    • Publication Date: The year the results were published.
    • Source Type: The type of publication in which the results appear (academic journals, encyclopedias, dissertations, books, etc.).

Advanced Search

Subject vs Keyword Searching:

  1. Keywords are topics in everyday speech, and are often drawn from the title or abstract, or assigned by the author or publisher.
  2. Subjects (or “Descriptors”) are assigned by experienced APA indexers who read the article. 
  3. Subjects can be found in the PsycINFO Thesaurus (available from the global blue navigation bar). Make note of the year the Subject was added, as articles are not indexed retrospectively as new subjects are added. 


Going Further