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PsycINFO Database--What It Is and How to Search It : PsycINFO Thesaurus

This Guide gives tips for searching the PsycINFO database, published by the American Psychological Association.

PsycINFO Thesaurus

Thesaurus--The Thesaurus indicates the official vocabulary assigned to classify the items in the database.  You can use the Thesaurus to determine what word or phrase is the official subject term or phrase used by the American Psychological Association (APA).  For example, if you type the word women in the Thesaurus, you see that women is not used as a subject term by APA.  Instead human females is the phrase used. 

This doesn't mean that if you typed in the word women that you wouldn't get lots of results; instead it means that if you choose human females from the Thesaurus or type human females in a search box and change the field to Subject, you'll get a much more focused result of those materials where the major subject is human females, not just that the word women was used somewhere in the article or book or report. 

The Thesaurus searches for terms ONLY in the Subject Terms field of the record.

Click on “Thesaurus” along the top of the screen. (See screen show below).   Type the term or phrase you are looking for in the box under Browsing: PsycINFO--Thesaurus, then click on Browse.  Your term or phrase will show up in the alphabetical list if it is used as an official subject in the database.

If you look up "women," you will see that it is not used as a subject term. (See screen shot below).


In this case, you will need to click on the phrase human females to get to that term.  Once you find a term or phrase you want to search, check the box to the left of the term, then click on “Search” if you want to search just that term, or click on “Add” if you want to add that term to your other search terms. (See screen shot below.)

You may check more than one term before clicking on “Add” in which case the two terms will be "ORed" together. You can change the OR to AND or NOT by choosing a different option from the drop-down menu next to ADD.

Checking to see if a word or phrase is listed in the Thesaurus, and how it's listed in the Thesaurus, can often be a means of focusing your search better.  


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