Previous posts have described the PsycINFO literature database and its limits. But searching the scholarly literature offers another major challenge: using the scholars’ language correctly.

Why use the thesaurus?
The thesaurus gives definitions of many psychological terms. It also places the term in context with related terms. Here are a few examples of definitions, taken from the PsycINFO Thesaurus.

  • Forgetting – Inability to recall, recollect, or reproduce previously learned material, behavior, or experience. Compare AMNESIA and MEMORY DECAY.
  • Amnesia – Partial or complete loss of memory caused by organic or psychological factors. The loss may be temporary or permanent, and may involve old or recent memories. Compare FORGETTING and MEMORY DECAY.
  • Memory Decay – Fading of memory traces over time. Compare FORGETTING and AMNESIA.

You can find the term that most closely matches the idea you want to search, and then search it in PsycINFO.

How to use the thesaurus.
This short video from the American Psychological Association, the producers of PsycINFO, gives a brief demonstration of the thesaurus.

Feel free to ask your librarian for assistance with the thesaurus or any other aspect of your literature searches.


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