From the Deck of . . . The ALA Midwinter 2017 Lunch & Learn

Welcome to “From the Deck of . . .” an irregular series in which we highlight search demos and other information from the slide decks we create for our live training sessions. You can view and download these materials from our SlideShare account.

We recently presented our Lunch & Learn training session at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition. During the session, we reviewed PsycTESTS®, an extensive collection of psychological tests, measures, scales, surveys, and other instruments. Over 42,000 tests are represented in the database, and a full or partial version of the measure is available for about 50% of them.

PsycTESTS is a wonderful resource for students learning to conduct measures, or researchers developing their own tests. In addition, many of the tests included can be used for non-commercial research and educational purposes, which includes general clinical use. (For more information, see our post How Permissions Work in PsycTESTS.)

During our session at ALA Midwinter, we reviewed the record structure of PsycTESTS, which is very different from a database like PsycINFO®. In PsycINFO, one article is represented by one record, which contains information about the article, taken from the article itself. In PsycTESTS, a test can be represented by multiple records, which contain information about the test, taken from a source document. A source document is typically a journal article, book chapter, technical report, or dissertation.

Visual representation of PsycTESTS record structure at

A visual representation of the record structure for PsycTESTS.


Every test in PsycTESTS is represented by a Test Master Record, which displays basic information about the test. You’ll also see either a Test Development Record or a Test Primary Data Record, which provide additional information about the test.

  • The Test Master Record provides basic information about the instrument and links to other records, which contain information from source documents, such as a journal article or book chapter:
    • Test Development Record: provides information describing the development of the measure
    • A Primary Data Record is provided for commercial tests, or tests with no source document (for example, a historical test)

A small number of tests will have an additional record or records:

    • Test Use Record: provides information describing a new use of the measure (for example, an article that reports on using a test developed for adults with children)
    • Test Review Record: provides information about an evaluation of the measure

The way these records are connected, and how they interact with one another, varies widely depending on how you access PsycTESTS: via APA PsycNET®, EBSCOhost, Ovid, or ProQuest. To see what a PsycTESTS record looks like on your platform, take a look at the slides from our Lunch & Learn. You’ll also find some sample search scenarios for PsycTESTS.

The presentation also included an overview of incorporating APA Style CENTRAL® into your teaching, and a look at some new and forthcoming publications.

Related Resources:

A “Getting Started with PsycTESTS” guide is available for each of the major vendor platforms. This handout demonstrates the various fields and features in PsycTESTS. To download or link to this resource, visit our Search Guides page.

Setting up a PsycTESTS Search

topPsycTESTS® is a research database that provides information on tests mined from the scholarly literature in PsycINFO®. Nearly 40,000 unique tests are represented in PsycTESTS, organized into 15 instrument types and 30 classifications.

There are a number of ways to search for a test, including the author name, keywords, test name, or test construct. (A construct is the concept the test is measuring, such as Confidence or Anxiety.)

PsycTESTS also includes limits, or controlled lists of values, that can be set before you run the search, toward the bottom of the advanced search page, or after you run the search, along the side of the search results page. These limits include:

  • Administration Method – how the test is given to participants, such as Paper or Interview.
  • Fee – indicates whether or not there is a fee for test use.
  • Instrument Type – the primary testing category of the instrument, such as Checklist or Task.
  • Permissions – the level of permissions needed in order to use a test. The Permissions statement may grant use for non-commercial research and teaching, or it may specify who to contact to obtain these permissions.
  • Supporting Documentation – supporting documentation types, such as instructor guide or answer sheet.

These next three limits may seem familiar from PsycINFO:

  • Age Group – specific population age groups that were the focus of the test.
  • Population Group – populations to which the test was administered. Possible values are Human, Animal, Male, Female, Inpatient and Outpatient.
  • PsycTESTS Classification – the general area of psychology that the measure is designed to assess, such as Human-Computer Interaction or Personality. (The PsycTESTS Classification system was created using the same principles behind the PsycINFO Classification Codes, but the codes and descriptors are different for these databases.)

There is also a Full Text Test Available checkbox that limits your search to records that have the PDF of the test attached to the descriptive record.


Opening a record from the search results takes you to the Test Master Record, which provides a profile and descriptive summary of the test.

Test Master Records have one or more Test Child Records that include information related to the test’s development, use, or review.

Child records may be:

  • Test Development: discusses the development of the test. You’ll see this for most of the tests in the database.
  • Test Review: reviews the test – this is available for a small percentage of the tests.
  • Test Use: reports on a new use of the test – for example, a researcher may have taken a test designed for adults and administered it to teenagers. This is also available for a small percentage of tests.

For more detailed information for your platform – APA PsycNET®, EBSCOhost, Ovid or ProQuest – please view our presentation on SlideShare.


Searching Many Terms at Once on PsycINFO

When you begin a review of the literature, it’s important to construct a successful search query that harnesses all the research on the topic. One way to do this is to search for synonyms and related concepts at the same time.

First, list the concepts that you are researching. This can be done with pen and paper. For example, I want to learn more about ADHD in teenagers, particularly at school.

Next, brainstorm alternate terms for each of your concepts. ADHD could also be called: ADD, hyperactivity, or attention deficit disorder. Teenagers could also be called: adolescents, teens, or high schoolers. School could also be called: education, classroom, class, academic, or learning.

Keep the terms you brainstorm for each concept together in their own group – we’ll call these your concept groups. Within the concept groups, you’ll join the terms together with OR. The OR search will find items that include at least one of the terms you include, so you’ll get a lot of results from these searches.

Next, you’ll join the searches you just created for your concept groups with AND. In the type of search we’re building, the AND search will find items that include at least one term from each concept group.

long-search-post-imageOnce you have your concept groups mapped out, you can begin your research on PsycINFO® by following these steps. For more detailed information for your platform – APA PsycNET, EBSCOhost, Ovid or ProQuest – please view our presentation on SlideShare.

  1. Before you type anything, login into (or create) your personal account. This allows you to edit your search, and to save the search to run again later. 
  2. Open your PsycINFO advanced search page. Customize the search by adding more rows for search terms, and changing the conjunction from AND to OR.
  3. Most platforms will search All Text or All Fields as a default. This is a fine starting point, or you can pick a particular field to search, such as Keywords, Abstract, or Title.
  4. Type in the terms for your first concept group: ADHD OR ADD OR hyperactivity OR attention deficit disorder. Run the search and save it to your account
  5. Run the rest of the concept group searches and save them.
  6. Within the saved searches page, you can combine your searches with AND. Save this master search too!
  7. This may be a large number of results to work with. Now that your full search is saved, you can further refine it by adding or removing terms, or adding limits such as document type or methodology. If your project is long term or ongoing, you can run this saved search once a month or once a week to review just the recently published articles on the topic.

For more detailed information for your platform – APA PsycNET, EBSCOhost, Ovid or ProQuest – please view our presentation on SlideShare.



APA PsycNET: slides 5-13
EBSCOhost: slides 14-21
Ovid: slides 22-29
ProQuest: slides 30-37


If you’re affiliated with a college or university, you can ask a librarian for assistance with your search. Subscribers to APA PsycNET® Gold, Gold Plus, and Platinum packages can contact APA Databases & Electronic Resources Customer Relations at or 800-374-2722.


Related Training Resources

Using Index Terms and Keywords (APA PsycNET):

PsycINFO YouTube Channel playlist: Using the Methodology Limiter:

Setting up an alert (APA PsycNET):

You may be interested in attending our PsycINFO Results Management training (all platforms):


Webinar Alert: Introducing New Features in PsycINFO®

Training sessions that discuss new features and enhancements added to PsycINFO this August are now available. These 45-minute webinars explain how and why we updated PsycINFO, define the new fields you will see, and demonstrate how they impact search and discovery.

Recent updates to PsycINFO include powerful new search limits, like open access and impact statements, new fields that connect content across research platforms, like PubMed’s MeSH terms and NIH clinical trial numbers, and additional information added to the Dissertation field. Also, because of the interlinking of APA’s databases, the PsycINFO refresh means that PsycARTICLES®, PsycBOOKS®, and PsycCRITIQUES® records will now include these new features as well.

The upcoming schedule for platform-specific PsycINFO webinars is:

PsycINFO New Features – APA PsycNET® Friday, November 4, 2016                        10:00-11:00 a.m.

PsycINFO New Features – EBSCOhost    Wednesday, November 9, 2016                1:30-2:30 p.m.

PsycINFO New Features – Ovid                 Monday, November 14, 2016                     3:00-4:00 p.m.

All times are Eastern Time.

Can’t make the time scheduled for your platform above? Please email PsycINFO, and if there is enough interest, we will schedule additional sessions.



These new fields & features are currently live on APA PsycNET, EBSCOhost, and Ovid, and are scheduled to be available on ProQuest in December. Check for status updates on our website.

For more information on these enhancements, please view our blog post New Features Added to PsycINFO. Major changes include:

Impact Statements – Impact statements, which describe the relevance of the research to the general public, are included in PsycINFO records when provided by the publisher. These Impact Statements are in addition to the abstract in the standard scientific format, which will always be included. If you are searching for impact statements using APA PsycNET, limit the search using the “Impact Statement” checkbox.

Open Access – This new field makes it clear at a glance if an article or journal indexed in PsycINFO is available through open access. Since PsycINFO is primarily an abstracting and indexing database, this lets you know that the full-text is available from another publisher just a click away. If you are looking for open access research on APA PsycNET, limit the search using the “Open Access” checkbox.

MeSH – To promote interconnectivity between platforms, the PsycINFO records for items also covered in PubMed will include the Medical Subject Headings used in PubMed’s indexing. This allows users to search PsycINFO using the terms they prefer, or that may be better suited for their research area. On APA PsycNET, the MeSH terms are linked to run a search on PubMed for additional research on the topic.

See all available trainings from APA Databases and Electronic Resources.

Introducing New Features in PsycINFO: Starting Your Research on APA PsycNET

In August, PsycINFO added new fields and features to help researchers like you search with greater precision and to include more information right in the record.
Because of the interlinking of APA’s products, PsycARTICLES, PsycBOOKS, and PsycCRITIQUES also include these updates.

Four of the new fields are particularly useful as you begin a research project or assignment. They can help you quickly narrow down search results and spot more information about the topic and why it is important.

  • Impact Statement – A summary like an abstract, but instead of describing the technical process, it explains the relevance of the research to the general public. This can help to justify a research project, especially if you are applying for a grant.
  • Open Access – A flag on the record indicates that the fulltext is available through open access. This provides access to resources beyond PsycINFO.
  • Data Sets – A description of the data set is provided, as well as links for access or download when available. Looking at the data yourself enables you to better understand the research conducted in the published study, and to identify your own project that builds on this previous work.
  • Dissertation Details – Advisor(s), Degree, Institution and Department are included in the PsycINFO record. This helps you to find leaders in evolving areas of research, or note other disciplines that are working on similar topics.


Check out our SlideShare presentation for a guide on using these new fields on APA PsycNET.



If you access PsycINFO through a different database platform, you can check the Vendor Status page to see when these new features will go live.