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You may have noticed the thesaurus option when searching PsycINFO or other databases.
In this tutorial, I’ll demonstrate how—and why—to use the thesaurus with PsycINFO.
On the APA PsycNET platform, you’ll find the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms by clicking the Term Finder button.
The thesaurus is updated regularly to encompass new and changing topics in the research literature.
For example, some of our most recent additions are "mobile devices," "social media," and "cyberbullying."
When searching the PsycINFO database, the thesaurus is not just for looking up related words and concepts.
It’s the best way to ensure you find all the relevant research on your topic!
For example, you might think searching for research about pets would be easy.
A search for “pets” in any field or even as a keyword or in article titles will bring you results.
But are they all of the results?
And, are they the best results?
What if the author used more specific words? You would have to add each type of pet to your search to find them all!
If you are new to a research area, you might not know the terms to search for.
As you can see here, the Thesaurus helps you sort through concepts.
APA indexers assign Index Terms (which are word entries in the Thesaurus) that capture what an article is about,
regardless of what terms appear in the title, abstract, and throughout the article.
This means you just need to know the idea you’re search for, not all the possible words the author might have used.
To stick with my earlier example, I’ll click “pets” and then create a new search.
A quick look at these results shows them to be on target even though “pets” is not in all the titles.
The thesaurus can also suggest ways to broaden or change your search.
After doing a few searches, you may realize you want to include related ideas.
The thesaurus shows broader, narrower, and (in this case) related terms that you can add to your search.
I’ve used "pets" and "animals" in this example as an easy illustration,
but looking at the Thesaurus is a good place to begin any search.
Remember, our indexers have tagged each record with the terms from the Thesaurus
that are most applicable to the concepts in each document.
By using the Thesaurus first, you’re putting their efforts to work for you!
For more about the Thesaurus or search tips and strategies, please subscribe to our YouTube channel or visit the APA website. Thank you.