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Psychology - Get to know your Databases: Home

Introductory information on accessing and using psychology databases.

This guide will introduce the databases most relevant for psychology research. Each database entry is accompanied by a brief description so you can find out what is included and why it might be useful to your research.

Databases contain detailed records of thousands of journal articles, book references and conference proceedings. These records usually include the article title, authors, abstract (a brief summary), keywords (to enable your search to find it) and more. The databases you search will be influenced by your topic and its research focus.

Searching databases generally isn't as simple as searching Google. For the best results, learning how to use advanced search techniques will help you get more relevant information.

Once you have familiarised yourself with the databases available and how to access them, you should complete the appropriate advanced searching tutorial to explore the skills and techniques you can use for effective library research. 

Core psychology database 

APA PsycInfo (via Ovid) is a large bibliographic database of peer-reviewed literature in behavioral and social sciences, focusing on research findings in psychology and related fields.

There are two full text psychology databases: APA PsycArticles - providing peer-reviewed articles published by the APA and affiliated journals and the Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection - providing journal coverage in child and adolescent psychology and counselling. Watch this introductory video to explore searching these databases. 

Medical and Health Sciences databases

Many health sciences and medical databases content relevant literature for psychology and mental health related research. 

For example Medline (Ovid) covers all aspects of human medicine and related biomedical research, EMBASE is a pharmacological database and CINAHL focuses on healthcare literature.  

Multidisciplinary research databases

Multidisciplinary research databases, such as Web of Science and Scopus, cover a range of subject areas.

You can use them to discover the global literature on a wide range of topics.  They are not full text databases, but you can use them to discover published material and follow links through to discover the full text available on other services.

Remember, there are many more databases available to you. As you move through your studies you may need to use other resources to meet particular research needs. 

Getting started with databases

  • Access via A to Z database list .  

  • Sort list by subject to see a tailored range of resources (core resources displayed first e.g. APA PsycInfo).

  • The databases you search will be influenced by your topic and its research focus.

  • Click on a database name and login with your University email and password for access. 

Database interfaces will all vary, and they may use different terminology. However, they all have similar features. Once you are familiar with these, you'll be able to find your way around different databases. You can see the main features in the examples below.

This is what a standard database interface looks like:

Once you click the Search button, the results page appears:

Use the limiter / filter options to help focus your results to the most relevant materials. Typical database filters include: 

  • Publication date: Limit results to those published in a relevant date range.
  • Source type: Filter results by type; e.g. academic journal, conference paper, report, thesis etc.
  • Publication title: View results from specific publication.
  • Subject: Filter results by associated subject 'tags'.

It is important to note:

  • Some databases provide full text access to the articles themselves.
  • Some databases are primarily indexes or bibliographic databases, and although they provide information about the content of a journal article, they may not provide full-text access to the actual article itself.
  • Some databases are a mixture of full-text and indexed/bibliographic access.

So, when searching databases, be prepared for an extra step. 

After finding a relevant article or book you need to check whether you have access to that item, either in print or in full-text online.  Many of the databases will have a Check for this at Exeter button; clicking on this link will check whether we have access to the item.

For more information see the Finding full text articles libguide. 

Top Tip: APA PsycArticles (OVID) and the Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection (EBSCO) are full text databases, these are a good starting point as you will be able to read any articles you find! 

  • Databases are provided on a variety of different platforms. 

  • The two main platforms you are likely to use are Ovid and EBSCOhost.

  • Watch the introductory videos on the following tabs to find out more. 

  • Familiarise yourself with each and explore the different search options available. 

  • Use the databases help section to explore the search functionality, filters and working with your search results. 

Databases that use this platform: APA PsycInfo, APA PsycArticles, Embase and Ovid MedLine. 

This video provides a quick introduction, for in depth guidance on searching Ovid explore the Searching Ovid LibGuide.

Databases that use this platform: Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection and CINAHL Complete

Use this activity booklet to guide you through running searches on some of the highlighted databases. 

Don't forget to complete the appropriate advanced searching tutorial to explore the skills and techniques you can use for effective library research. 

Interactive activity - searching within a database

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