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VAN 546: Research Methods in Organizational Psychology: Step 1: PsycINFO


For in-depth training in PsycINFO, including video tutorials, visit the PsycINFO guide.

PsycINFO is the most comprehensive database in psychology and related disciplines. It is developed and maintained by APA experts, and because of its extensive, authoritative coverage it is the ideal place to start your literature search.

Adler University subscribes to PsycINFO on the OvidSP interface. It has a larger learning curve than some other access options, but its powerful search functions make it the most suitable for graduate-level study.

Once you understand the following key points, you'll be able to make a lot of progress searching this database:

Key point 1: Subject headings and keywords

Key point 2: Combining concepts with AND and OR

Key point 3: Using the right limits

The rest of this page describes these concepts. Remember to make an appointment with the librarian if you'd like more help!

Using subject headings

subject heading for corporate social responsibility in psycinfo


Why should you search with subject headings?

When you search by keyword, you are asking the computer to match strings of characters. It's best to start a literature review with subject headings, which allow you to search by concepts. You will find much of the literature that is on your topic, no matter what terms or spelling the author used. You will also avoid looking through articles that may contain the word you typed but aren't really about your topic.

How do you access subject headings in PsycINFO?

When you enter the database, leave default settings as they are. Type your topic in the search bar, and click Search. You will be taken to a list of subject headings that match your topic.

Remember to search for one concept at a time. If your research question is "Do socially responsible business practices have an influence on investors?" you will need to search for each concept separately, then combine them.

From the list of subject headings, tick the checkbox to the left of the one that best matches your topic. Then click Continue to add it to your search.

Combining concepts with AND and OR

venn diagrams to illustrate boolean searching

AND is the intersection of your two concepts. OR is any one of your concepts (the entire Venn diagram).

Use AND to capture a concept with several parts, such as "social responsibility and investors." Use OR for concepts that are functionally the same. For example, you might search for Social Responsibility OR Ethics. Note: these do not need to be exact synonyms. They only need to be related closely enough to give you useful information on your topic.


Avoid the full text limits

full text limits in psycinfo

They will clear out too much relevant information. You won't be getting a complete picture of your topic if you limit to full text in PsycINFO.

Remember, even if the full text does not appear in PsycINFO it may be available through another database. Use these instructions to find an article from a citation. If Adler doesn't own it, you can request the article through interlibrary loan.

Useful limits

To review the research on your topic, you'll want to limit by Methodology. Access the Methodology limits under the Additional Limits button.

additional limits


Limit to Quantitative Study or Qualitative Study, a Literature Review, or other study types. You can choose more than one at a time by holding down the Ctrl key while you click them.

To restrict results to articles in organizational psychology, limit by Classification Code.

classification codes