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Writing 101 (Toconis): Subject Headings

Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms

The PsycINFO Thesaurus, or the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms, is a list of controlled vocabulary terms. These terms function as authoritative subject classifications for psychological concepts. Think of them like hashtags on Instagram.

The object is to simplify access – all related entries in the database can be located by using the right standardized term. Identifying the right subject terms used in the database can help to focus a search to find the articles that are the best fit for your research.

Finding & Using Subject Terms

Thesaurus Strategy

In PscyINFO's Advanced Search, head to the Thesaurus, located on top of the search boxes. You can them look up one of your keywords to see if there is an official term related to the concept.

In the following example, I looked up the phrase "mental health" and discovered that it is an official index term, but there are some other terms listed underneath the main index term. I can decide to include any of these related terms.

Article Strategy

When you find a relevant article, make sure to look at the subject terms listed. You can then look for articles that has been tagged with those subject terms to find other potentially relevant items.

In the following example, these were the index terms in an article that was perfect for my research needs. I didn't realize that another term for "academic success" is "academic achievement." I can run this as a keyword search, or I can use it as a subject search.

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