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PSYC 001 - Introduction to Experimental Psychology: Finding peer-reviewed articles - PsycINFO

PsycINFO - Why use it?

You need to find five or more peer-reviewed articles that report on experiments about your topic?

Use PsycINFO. It's the best database for identifying scholarly and professional literature on psychology and its related fields. It's produced by the American Psychological Association, and its coverage starts in the late 1800s. It uses PennText to link directly to online fulltext, print holdings, and document-delivery services.

Searching PsycINFO for a technical term

Some PSYC 001 topics are described using very specific terms or phrases. It's easy to find a few articles in PsycINFO for these topics. The steps below will also work if you're working on a term paper ... but if you're overwhelmed by the search results, ask for help!

Example: Learned helplessness

Start simple: Put your term in the first search box - in double-quotes if it's a phrase - and search "in Anywhere"

Look at your search results. Look at the right-sidebar "Narrow Results By: Subject" filter. See your term? Click on it to narrow your search to that term as a PsycINFO subject term

Overwhelming results? Repeat your search: Click on "Modify Search" to return to "Advanced Search". Change "in Anywhere" to "in Major subject - MJSUB"

Then use the PsycINFO filters (righthand column on this page) to look for peer-reviewed empirical studies.

Searching PsycINFO for two-name topics

A special version of the technical-term search in PsycINFO.

Example: The Dunning-Kruger effect.

Break apart the names:

Your search results will include the original experiment's article by Kruger and Dunning. Searching for the phrase "dunning-kruger" won't retrieve it, as the moniker came into use after the report. Can you see any other reasons searching the phrase "dunning-kruger" wouldn't find the original article?

HINT! To highlight the original report, change Sort Order to "Publication date (oldest first)"

Then use the PsycINFO filters (righthand column on this page) to look for peer-reviewed empirical studies.

Searching PsycINFO for general topics

Some PSYC 001 topics are more open-ended, more like a sentence than a narrow technical term. This strategy shows you an easy way to find PsycINFO subject terms.

Example: "Is body language shared by many cultures around the world?"

Break up the topic into separate searchable elements:

HINT! The * (asterisk) is ProQuest's truncation symbol: cultur* = culture, cultures, cultural

Look at your search results. Look at the right-sidebar "Narrow Results By: Subject" filter. See relevant terms? Look for additional subject terms with "More options ...".

Write down the relevant terms and then use them in a new "Advanced Search" with subject field tags:

WARNING! A filter's "INCLUDE" checkbox adds terms as if they were synonyms - "body language" is NOT a synonym for "cross cultural differences", is it? That's why you do a new search!

Then use the PsycINFO filters (righthand column on this page) to look for peer-reviewed empirical studies.

PsycINFO filters: Peer-reviewed articles, Experiments, and more

PsycINFO  offers special features for effective searching. These include filters for peer-reviewed publications and methodologies used in research, and "cited by" references.


Peer-reviewed publications

Available as an "Advanced Search" limit option and as a "Search result" side-bar filter.

"Peer review" is an official editorial process that involves review and approval by experts in the same subject area as the author. Although books are usually peer-reviewed, the term is almost always intended for article searching and it's determined at the journal level. Articles in a peer-reviewed journal that might not be peer-reviewed include notes, letters, and book reviews.

Note! Peer-review status (Peer Reviewed Journal, Non-Peer Reviewed Journal, Peer Reviewed Status-Unkown) is also a PsycINFO Publication Type limit option and search result filter.


Methodology used in research

Available as an "Advanced Search" limit option and as a "Search result" side-bar filter.

Use the Methodology option to limit your search to specific general methods featured in the article:
Empirical Study = Study based on facts, systematic observation, or experiment.
Other methodologies might also be relevant for your topic.

HINT! Definitions of methodologies are provided on the APA web site.


Cited By

PsycINFO links between the articles it describes through their bibliographies. "Cited By" looks forward in time, showing how many more recent PsycINFO articles used your article in their bibliographies.

You can use "Cited By" to identify heavily-cited - important?, popular?, controversial? - articles:

  1. Sort search results by Publication Date.
  2. Scroll to the page bottom, change to "100 items per page".
  3. Use your browser's "Find" to look for: Cited by. Look at articles with high Cited By counts.