PsycINFO® Expert Tip: Searching by Keyword Across Platforms

Keyword searching is a good fit for researchers who are new to a topic and want to get the full scope of the research available. Before you begin searching, you should be aware of the differences between keywords and index terms. Also, note the platform you use to access PsycINFO®, since it may search additional fields alongside keyword.


Keywords (also called Key Concepts or Identifiers) are words or brief phrases that describe the document’s content. The list of keywords for an article is often provided by the author or publisher, though sometimes it is created by APA staff. Keywords can be any word or phrase, and so they are “uncontrolled.”

Index Terms (also called Subjects or Subject Headings) are chosen by APA staff from a pre-exiting list of major topics. This means that Index Terms are a “controlled” vocabulary.


Unlike the other PsycINFO fields, searching by keyword pulls in results from additional fields on some platforms. This means if you run the same PsycINFO keyword search on different platforms, you may get a different set of results. If you notice you are getting results that don’t include the keywords you searched for, check the index terms field or the title field for the terms.


Below are the fields that are included in a PsycINFO keyword search on each platform.

  • On EBSCOhost, select KW keywords to search the keywords
  • On Ovid, select key concepts to search the keywords
  • On ProQuest, you can select identifier (keyword) to search for keywords, or subject heading (all) to search keywords and index terms (MJSUB)
  • On APA PsycNET, select keywords to search for keywords, index terms, and title



Here is an APA PsycNET record where a keyword search for “big bang theory” led to a record with the phrase in the title, but not in the keyword field.

You can search by keyword to become familiar with a new topic, identify the best journals or authors in an area, or see different perspectives on an issue. However, if you are planning to search on a topic over a long period of time, or revisit a saved search, we recommend using Index Terms instead. Searching by Index Term returns more consistent results because they are assigned from a controlled list and because they return the same records regardless of platform – no additional fields are searched.


You can learn more about keywords and other PsycINFO vocabularies in our previous post on searching with keywords, Index Terms, and more.

Related resource: How & Why to Use the Thesaurus tutorials, a guide to searching with index terms

APA Librarian Conference Travel Award: Apply by Nov. 30 for Spring 2018 Conferences

Do you work in an academic or health sciences library in the United States? Are you an early- or mid-career librarian? Are you looking for sources of funding for a conference you’d like to attend this spring?

If the answer to all of those questions is yes, please consider applying for an APA Librarian Conference Travel Award! Through November 30, 2017, we are accepting applications for conferences taking place from January to April 2018. This includes – but is not limited to – the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology, ALA Midwinter, Electronic Resources & Libraries, Code4Lib, the Distance Library Services Conference and the Annual Conference on the First Year Experience.

The award is intended to help defray conference-related expenses for librarians with less than 15 years of experience after receiving their MLS or MLIS. Three cash awards are distributed three times each calendar year, and the application cycle opens and closes on a rolling basis. At this time, we are not limiting the conferences that are eligible for travel award funding. Applicants should identify the conference that best meets their professional needs, and explain how attendance will support their current duties and future goals.

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New Handbooks: APA Handbook of Giftedness and Talent & APA Handbook of Forensic Neuropsychology

The APA Handbooks in Psychology series was launched in 2011 to provide comprehensive overviews and in-depth study of specific subfields within psychology. All of the Handbooks are included in the PsycBOOKS® database, and titles are also available individually.

The series currently contains 26 authoritative titles, including the 2014 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology.

The most recent addition to the series, the APA Handbook of Giftedness and Talent, was published in August 2017. It incorporates the most recent thinking and cutting-edge research from a wide range of fields related to gifted education, including developmental and social psychology, the neurosciences, cognitive science, and education.

Earlier this summer, the APA Handbook of Forensic Neuropsychology, was published in July 2017. This handbook covers the scientific and clinical neuropsychological advances and their application in forensic contexts.

PsycBOOKS users on APA PsycNET® (including subscribers to APA PsycNET Gold, Gold Plus, and Platinum), EBSCOhost, Ovid and ProQuest can access the entire series by browsing PsycBOOKS or by performing a title search for a particular handbook.

Institutions also have the option of purchasing handbooks individually. Print only, Electronic only, or Electronic + Print options are available through APA, with electronic access provided via the APA PsycNET® platform. For more information on pricing and availability, please see the APA website or contact us at

PsycINFO® Expert Tip: Author, Journal, and Test Lookup

On APA PsycNET®’s Advanced Search page, there are three Search Tools that can help you choose the name of an author, a journal, or a test to add to your search. Author Lookup can search for records in all APA Databases, while Journal Lookup works with PsycINFO® and PsycARTICLES®, and Test Lookup (added in 2017) works with  PsycTESTS®.

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Webinar Alert: APA Style CENTRAL® Trainings for September & October 2017


APA Style CENTRAL® is the newest member of the APA Style® family, launched in July 2016.

APA’s training specialists have developed several webinars for librarians, instructors, and students that include a content overview and a live demonstration of features.

Click on any session link to register (all times are EDT).

APA Style CENTRAL Online Introduction introduces librarians, faculty, and students to the platform:

Teaching with APA Style CENTRAL details how faculty, librarians, and other instructors can use APA Style CENTRAL in teaching APA Style:

Writing Papers in APA Style CENTRAL teaches end users how to create and save papers using APA Style CENTRAL:

For more information, including the full training schedule, visit the APA Style CENTRAL webinars page.