Skip to main content

Psychology: Searching APA PsycInfo

Searching APA PsycInfo

Let's be honest, APA PsycInfo can be difficult to search. This video will take you thru the basic steps of finding empirical research articles in this database.

Here is an important tip - search your keywords ONE AT A TIME.

Using the Advanced Search, APA PsycInfo will match your keywords to its own list of subject headings ... this is a good thing!  As shown in the image below, the first concept entered is posttraumatic stress disorder.


So remember, search each concept, or idea, separately, and then combine your searches.

Mapping Display Screen

Mapping Display screen: select a subject heading(s) that best matches your keyword.

  • Auto Explode will automatically appear checked - searches for all narrower terms of your subject heading.
  • Focus limits your search to sources where your subject heading is a main focus.
  • Scope may provide a definition for your subject heading.


Once you've chosen your subject heading(s), choose continue and repeat the process with your second keyword. 

Thesaurus Screen

If you click on a subject heading, you will be directed to the Thesaurus.

The Thesaurus provides a hierarchical context of a given subject heading:

  • Broader Terms: terms more general in scope than your term
  • Narrower Terms: terms more specific in scope than your term
  • Related Terms: synonyms of your term

APA PsycInfoTip #1

APA PsycINFO attempts to match / map your words to its list of subject headings.

No appropriate subject heading for your keyword? No problem

You can always search your term as a keyword.  Scroll down to the bottom on the Subject headings list and choose your term.  Review some of your results and identify the preferred subject heading(s) used.    

APA PsycInfo Tip #2

Finding too much stuff or not enough? 

Use the Thesaurus to discover new concepts you can use to broaden or narrow your search.