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*Psychology Resources

Search tips, explanations, and links to help Psychology students get the most out of the library.

Subject headings

Subject headings are a "controlled vocabulary," an authoritative list of terms assigned by the database to organize resources. 

The most common subject headings are created and maintained by the Library of Congress (Library of Congress Subject Headings). Most databases use LCSH to organize resources. Medical and health sciences literature is organized using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). Databases may also have their own controlled vocabulary, or thesaurus, of terms. 

To search by subject headings:

  • You must use the exact, complete, subject heading to return results if you are using the 'subject heading' or 'subject' field. 
  • Check the menu at the top of the database screen to see if there is a thesaurus or subject list. You can enter your keyword and it will tell you what subject heading to use instead.
  • Subject headings are listed on the details page for individual items. Clicking on one of the subjects listed for a particular article or citation will display all items that also use that subject heading.

Using the thesaurus to find subject terms

This helpful demonstration shows how to use the thesaurus to craft a search.  You can save searches and set up automated search alerts  in PsychINFO and in most databases by setting a personal account in the database.

Limiting your results by methodology

As you become more deeply involved in research, you will use, and need to find, studies that use various methods.  PsychINFO allows you to limit your results by methodology.  Here are definitions of the various types.  The video uses a different platform to search, but the content is the same.