This tutorial gives tips on searching in PsycINFO and other helpful psychology research databases. The tutorial covers:

• what’s in PsycINFO
• search tips
• useful methodology filters
• how to find the full text of articles
• adding other databases to your search

Use the arrows below to move through the tutorial.

What is PsycINFO?

PsycINFO is a specialized library database for research through a psychological lens. Here you’ll find academic journal articles (including peer-reviewed articles) as well as descriptions of books and dissertations.


1 of 7Let’s say you’re interested in doing research on the impact of social media. Let’s begin searching in PsycINFO by putting social media in the top search box and hit Search.

What happens?


2 of 7Wow! Over 34,000 results! This is fewer than you’d get in Google Scholar, but still too many.

Luckily, there are ways we can narrow this down.

Let’s go back to the first search screen to explore. Click Advanced Search underneath the third search box to go back.

Personality search term with call out around Advanced Search


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Scroll down to look at the additional filters we can apply to our search. Age Groups is one of them. Let’s say you are most interested in the impact of social media on adolescents. Select Adolescence (13-17 yrs).

To the right of the Age Groups filter, you’ll see Population Group. Here, you can define that you’re interested in humans, which can be helpful since sometimes social and behavioral science involves studying non-human animals. Select Human.

What other filters can you use to search PsycINFO?


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One useful filter to use is Methodology. Methodology refers to how researchers collect their data, and what researchers do with the data they collect. There are two main types of methodologies:

Qualitative: is research gathered in non-numerical form such as through focus groups, unstructured interviews, observations or open-ended questionnaires. This research is typically exploratory and focused on understanding experiences.

Quantitative: is research gathered in numerical form such as data collected through surveys. Analyzing data through a statistical lens is a key characteristic of quantitative research. This research typically starts with a focused research question and is used to draw general conclusions about a large population.

Many studies will also use a mixed methods approach and use both types of methodologies.

Once you’ve made those selections, hit search.


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We still get nearly 3,000 results, but the results are starting to hone in on the impact of social media on adolescence. But we still need to make our results more relevant.

So, now we need to ask ourselves what specific impact of social media on adolescence are you interested in? To find search terms that will increase the relevancy of your results, scan through the Titles and Subjects listed under each article.

Let’s say this article stands out to you because you are interested in interpersonal relationships. 


To find similar articles that are more relevant to your interests, let’s add interpersonal relationships to our search by entering the term into the search box below social media. Click search.


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Question: What happened?


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In many cases your instructors will ask you to only use recent scholarly or peer-reviewed research so, let’s limit our search to peer-reviewed academic journal articles since 2012 to get a picture of recent academic research.


A few dozen results is a great place to settle with an initial search in a research database. You have enough results to get a sense of subtopics in your topic, without feeling so overwhelmed you don’t make it past the first result.

Getting the Article

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Now the fun part! You've found something great and want to dive into it.

But wait, even if you click on the title of the article, what you are viewing isn't the whole article…

If the article is available in this database, you will see either a html full text or a pdf full text icon on the left side of the page. Clicking on those icons will take you to the full article.

But what if those icons aren't there?

Getting the Article

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In place of the full text icons, you may see an ArticleLinker icon.

ArticleLinker is a guide that will help you find the full article if it's not in this article database. Follow the steps to get to your article.

Find more details about using ArticleLinker.

Useful Tools

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PsycINFO has some other useful tools, including the option to get you started with citing the articles you’ve found.

Click on the title of an article to open its article record. On the right side you’ll see an icon that looks like a sheet of paper and says Cite.

Click on it to see your article formatted in a number of citation styles, including APA. Scroll down to find the one you need, and then copy and paste it into your bibliography.

Caution: Make sure you look over the citation with a citation guide to make sure there aren't any mistakes. Sometimes capitalization of the article title can be wrong in APA.

Useful Tools

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Look at the other options below Tools (on the right side of an article record).

What other great things does PsycINFO allow you to do with an article?

Useful Tools

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Searching Beyond PsycINFO
Finally, if you have a topic that fits into multiple disciplines – like psychology and education, or education and consumer finance – you can add databases to your search to expand the pool of articles you’re searching in.

To add databases, click on Choose Databases above the first search box.

Recommended additional databases for FCHD include:

Professional Development Collection
Articles geared toward practitioners and clinicians in the social and behavioral sciences.

Education Source and ERIC
Articles and more having to do with education topics.

Health Source Academic
Articles geared toward health and medicine.

• SPORTdiscus
Useful for topics pertaining to athletics, sports psychology, and sports medicine.

Once you’ve finished exploring the list of additional databases, click the Okay button at the bottom of the screen.

Useful Tools

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Congratulations! You have now completed the tutorial.
Want more ideas? Need some help?

• The library has a collection of quick how to guides to help you with your research.

• We also have a video demonstration of PsycINFO in action.

• You can always email or call the Psychology librarian for help:
Go to the next page if you need to e-mail a completion certificate to your instructor, but remember to only enter in one e-mail address at a time.

Happy researching!


Please enter your name and email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz.

You can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas. If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address also.


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