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Psychology: 85-356: Expertise: The Cognitive (Neuro)Science of Mastering Almost Any Skill: Efficient Searching in PsycINFO

A guide on how on finding literature and using library resources

Boolean Operators

Getting too many or too few search results? Use Boolean operators to narrow or widen a search. For example, Dog AND Cat will narrow your search to only include results that include both of those words. The OR operator will broaden your search. The NOT operator can sometimes filter out too many articles so use it cautiously.

Filters and Sorting

Databases will have sort and filter options to help you find what you are looking for. This is an example of results returned for a "mental health" search in PsycINFO. Sorting by Date Newest is useful if you are interested in very recent publications. Filters will allow you to filter out certain publication types such as books or filter by other characteristics. 

The GET IT @ CMU buttons will take you to the library catalog where you can access the full-text or request a copy of the publication with interlibrary loan.

PsycINFO Thesaurus

Some databases, such as PsycINFO, have what is called a controlled vocabulary or thesaurus which allows for very precise searching. Each article in PsycINFO has been manually indexed with terms from the APA Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms. If you enter a topic into the Browsing: APA Thesaurus search box, such as "mental health", it will allow you to look at all results that have been tagged with that index term.

Watch two minutes of this video to learn how to use the thesaurus for searching!

Citation Tracing

If you click on an article of interest in PsycINFO, you will be able to see both the Cited References (references in your article of interest) and the Times Cited in this Database (articles that cited your article of interest). Please note though the Times Cited in this Database link will only include articles in the PsycINFO database so it is not necessarily a complete list. To do more complete forward citation tracing, Google Scholar is a good option (see below). 

Forward Citation Tracing in Google Scholar