Searching in Psycinfo

Library Databases have millions of articles in them, and the broader your search terms, the more irrelevant results you will get.

So, if you search only for test anxiety, you will get thousands of results about a variety of things, many of them not related to your topic.

Subject Headings

You can use subject headings, which will narrow your results significantly.  Subject Headings are tags put on articles that ensure that the article you're looking at is about the topic rather than just having the words somewhere in the article.


After you've added more search terms or used subject headings, you can find different types of articles about your topic.


You can limit to a variety of types of articles, depending on what you need.  Some helpful types of articles are:

  • Empirical Studies
  • Literature Reviews
  • Field Studies
  • Clinical Case Studies


Age Groups

As you're narrowing your topic, you may find that you're focusing on a specific age group.  For example, test anxiety in elementary school children rather than adolescents.

In the advanced search of Psycinfo you can search specifically within age groups so that you do not need to review studies that are studying different age groups.



As Psycinfo is made specifically for research in Psychology, look at the Advanced Search screen and see if there is any way for you to get articles that best match your research, whether it is age group, methodology, or finding your specific topic.

Psycinfo Interface

Select the Prezi below to see searching tips in Psycinfo, and to learn about useful tools that Psycinfo offers.


You can navigate throughout the presentation freely, zoom to read text or images, and can select full screen.

Exclude Dissertations

Dissertation Abstracts

When searching Psycinfo, you'll often find what look to be great articles, and then you'll request them through Interlibrary Loan, only to find out that what you ordered was a 1 or 2 page abstract or is not availalbe.  This is usually because the citation is for a dissertation abstract.  You can easily tell if what you're looking at is a dissertation abstract by looking at the citation.

Psycinfo Dissertation Abstracts

Refining Your Search

When you're searching in library databases, there are two ways you can revise and improve your search:

Keywords--ask yourself questions about your topic, and generate keywords from the answers that will help you focus your topic.

Limiters--Features in the Database (which are mentioned in the box to the left) that allow you to look for specific types of sources or things, such as literature reviews, articles with populations of a specific age group, and many other qualities.  Limiters search parts of the articles that are tagged by expert, so they're very powerful and useful.