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PSYC 399: Social, Personality, Clinical and Health Psychology

Fall 2017- Professor Sharon Akimoto

Comparison of databases


PsycINFO Web of Science Google Scholar

What it is

A database of scholarly articles, book chapters, and dissertations in Psychology. A database of scholarly articles in all disciplines.  It is designed to allow searching of citations. Google’s search of scholarly articles.  It covers most academic publishers and articles posted on college and university websites.
It's awesome for... …doing a search on a topic in psychology, especially if you have parameters such a specific methodology, population, or test that you’re interested in. …starting with an article and seeing who has cited it (and who has cited that…).  Especially good for finding newer research. …finding the full text of an article that you can’t find elsewhere.  Author sometimes put their article up on the web, giving you free access.
What you need List of key words or phrases that describe your topic. List of key words or phrases, or the title of an article that you're interested in. If you’re looking for a specific article, the title of that article.  Or very specific key words and phrases.
Drawbacks Does not search the full text or articles in disciplines outside of Psychology Does not search the full text. Picky interface.  It can be hard to narrow results, no discipline-specific indexing.  May take you to sites that ask for money to access them – please, DON’T pay for access to articles!
Search notes

PsycINFO provides a lot of specialized limiters on the advanced search screen:  You can limit results based on the tests performed, methodology, and population.  These can be extremely helpful!

Use a different row for each different concept.  Add synonyms for concepts in a box separated by the word OR (eg: college OR university).

If you need help coming up with terms, check out the Thesaurus.  The link is in the upper left corner.

Once you’ve got a list of results, you can narrow it by keyword, subject, or type of document along the left side.

When looking at an article:

  • Times Cited - finds newer articles that cite that article. 
  • Cited References - finds the bibliography of that article.
  • View Related Records - finds articles with similar bibliographies.

If the article is available for free, you’ll see a link to the right of the result.  If you see “Full Text” link, the library has access to the article.  Click it to get access.

Off-campus? Go to Settings and then click Library Links and search for Carleton College.  You'll see the "Full Text" links when we have the article.

If there is no free access, click "More" and then "Check Library Holdings".  Request the article via ILL from there.


Other subject databases in related fields

Many psychology topics are interdisciplinary in nature, so you may need to find literature from other fields.  Below are some of the more frequently used databases in some other fields. 

Here are a few databases to get you started, but be sure to look at the subject guides for more information and suggestions on ways to search in that subject.

A note on dissertations

You may run in to references to doctoral theses in PsycINFO.  Dissertations are not peer-reviewed, and so should not be afforded the same weight as peer-reviewed articles.  However, the literature searches in some theses can be gold mines in providing background information and pointers to other articles on that same topic.

Getting the full text of an article

Some library databases give you only the citation and abstract of the article.  So if you've found a perfect article, how do you get to the full text?  The truth is, the full text can be in different locations, so follow these steps to get to find the article. (details for each step are below)

1. Make sure what you're looking for is an article.

2. Look for any direct links to the article.

3. Use the Find It! button

4. Check Google Scholar

5. Request the article from Interlibrary Loan


1. Is the source an article?


Before you spend too much time trying to find an article, make sure it's an article, not a book, a book chapter, or some other source. Most databases will give you that information. If what you're looking for is in a book, search for the title of that book (not the book chapter) in Catalyst.

Books & eBooks

If we don't have the book, search for it on WorldCat and request the book via ILL from there.

2. Check for direct links to full text


If there is a link to the full text from the database, click it! It will say PDF Full Text, HTML Full Text, Linked Full Text, or something similar.

3. Use the Find It! button


The "Find It" button 

 searches Carleton and St. Olaf libraries to see if we have the article and if so, how to access it. 

If there is online access, click the title of the database to get to the full text.  

[visual description: screen shot of the Catalyst screen showing a link to online access of an article. Click the link after "Full text available from..."]

If it's in print, click on the Physical Copies tab and write down the call number so you can find the journal. Journals are shelved on the 3rd floor of the library.


If the journal is in print at St. Olaf, click the link for the St. Olaf Print Periodicals. You'll need to log in to Catalyst first, and then request the journal.

[visual description: screen shot showing the "Sign in for request options" link]

If we don't have access to the journal, move on to the next steps:

4. Check Google Scholar

Google Scholar indexes scholarly content on the Internet, including content that may be available for free. Search for the title of the article in quotes. 

If there is free access, it will be linked on the right side next to the results by clicking on Carleton Full Text as shown below.

Carleton Full Text as shown in Google Scholar

NOTE: Google Scholar will also point you to the publisher's site, which will ask you for money to purchase the article if the library doesn't have a subscription to that journal. Order the article through ILL instead (see step 5).

5. Request from InterLibrary Loan

Request articles we don't have through InterLibrary Loan. Articles will be scanned and sent to you as a pdf, and typically arrive in 2-3 days, but can take longer.  

Click "Request Document via ILLiad" from the Catalyst page (see above).  Log in with your Carleton username and password, and the form will be filled out for the article.  

You can also submit a request manually through ILLiad.