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Psychology: PsycInfo via Ovid Search Tips

This guide provides descriptions of commonly used library resources for research and scholarship in the field of psychology.

About PsycInfo via Ovid

PsycINFO is a database that indexes and abstracts the professional and academic literature in psychology and related disciplines, including medicine, law, social work, neuroscience, business, nursing, and forensics as well as sociology, linguistics, and anthropology. It includes peer-reviewed journals, books, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers. Dates of coverage include 1806 to the present.

NYU Libraries subscribes to PsycINFO via two different platforms: APA PsycNET and Ovid.  While both platforms contain the same citations, the Ovid search interface has a number of advanced features that allow one to tailor a more sophisticated search strategy.  Below are tips for using PsycINFO via Ovid.

For links to additional psychology databases, please see the box to the left.

Tips on Searching PsycInfo via Ovid

1. Split your research question into discrete concepts.  Brainstorm a good keyword that encapsulates each concept.

2. Search for each concept/keyword in PsycINFO via Ovid one at a timeNote that the subject mapping feature is turned on by default.

This means that after you hit search, the database is going to offer you (based on your keywords) its subject headings to use to search for literature on the topic.  For example, if you type in "anxiety," it will offer the following subjects:

Select the subject heading or headings that are most appropriate for your concept (i.e., check all that apply) and click the Continue button.  Note:

o    Clicking Explode retrieves results using the selected term and all of its more specific terms.  This expands your search.

o    Clicking Focus limits your results to those documents in which your subject heading is considered the major point of the article.  This narrows your search.

3. Once you have searched all of the concepts contained in your research question individually, select the searches you want to combine using the AND or OR buttons in the search history window.  Clicking AND narrows your search while OR expands it.

As a shortcut, you can also type a Boolean operation in the search box using the numbers of each search (e.g., 1 and 2).

4. You now have an initial set of returns that pertain to your specific research topic (in the example shown, this is literature on anxiety and sleep disorders).  Click Display in the Search History box to view them. 

Click the title of an article to view its full record including its complete citation information, abstract, assigned subject headings, and other “metadata” including methodology, publication type, and document type, etc.  Use the grey NYU button to find the full text of the article using the library’s subscriptions.

5. When appropriate, apply limits to your search to further narrow your results as desired.  Select the search you want to limit and click the Additional Limits button found in the search box.

Useful limits on the Additional Limits page include: Publication Year(s), Age Groups, Methodology, Publication Types, Languages, Population Groups, etc.

Select the limit(s) you'd like to use to refine your search and click the Limit A Search button at the bottom of the page.

6. You now have a set of articles on your topic, limited as you specified.  Check the boxes of select records to manage your results (e.g., print, email, export as a group).

Additional tips:

    • Use scope notes on the subject-browsing screen to see the definition of a subject. Click on the hyperlinked subject heading to view its thesaurus-related terms that are more general and more specific.
    • If your search did not map to a desirable subject heading, select the last box for Search as Keyword.
    • You can also search by journal, title, author, etc. but always progress in the same methodical way, i.e., search each concept individually and in succession and combine them afterward.
    • Create a free account to store results and searches and/or create email alerts for a search.