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Psychology: Step-by-step guide to searching PsycInfo

Library support for the School of Psychology

Searching PsycInfo using Subject Headings

This guide will take you through a series of screenshots for the following search:

Find English language journal articles on the use of cognitive behaviour therapy to treat anorexia nervosa in teenagers

To make use of the Subject Headings in PsycInfo, you should break your search down into separate topics, search for them one at a time and then combine them at the end. For this search, the main topics are cognitive behaviour therapy and anorexia nervosa (the 'teenager' part of the search will be covered later).

To access PsycInfo, go to PsycInfo (1806-present)

Search for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Type in the keyword(s) related to the first part of your search. Cognitive behaviour therapy can also be referred to as 'cognitive behavior therapy' or 'CBT' etc so you can type in any of these variations:


Select the most relevant Subject Heading

You will be presented with a range of possible Subject Headings. Selecting the correct Subject Heading will ensure you retrieve all references about cognitive behaviour therapy, even if the author has used the alternative terms 'CBT' or 'cognitive behavior therapy'. You are searching for the subject, not just for the actual word(s) you type in:


And if you aren't sure which Subject Heading to select...

Sometimes it is obvious which Subject Heading to use. However, if you need help deciding on the Subject Heading, you can look at the Scope note to see a definition of the term, or you can click on the Subject Heading to see the Thesaurus; this will show you how the subjects are organised and will give you Broader, Narrower and Related Terms:

Searching as a keyword

Select a Subject Heading where you can, but if you can't find one that is relevant to your search, you can opt to search for your term as a keyword. This can be useful if you are looking for a very recent term that hasn't yet been accepted as a Subject Heading, or where you are looking for a person's name or regional terms.

Auto Explode

Once you are sure you have the correct Subject Heading, click on the box to select it; the Auto Explode feature will automatically be selected too:

Search for Anorexia

Enter the second keyword in your search - anorexia:


Select the most relevant Subject Heading

As before, select the most relevant Subject Heading and click Continue:



Search History

Combine your searches

Once you have searched for all your keywords separately, you can combine them to find references which contain both cognitive behavior therapy and anorexia nervosa

Go to Search History at the top of the page and combine your searches with AND:


Results of combined search

The combined search will show all references which contain the Subject Headings cognitive behavior therapy and anorexia nervosa:

Limiting your search

There are various ways you can limit your results to filter out references that aren't relevant to your search. For example, you can limit by language, date, publication type, age-group, gender etc.

Click on Limits to see the options available:


Additional Limits

Clicking on Limits will give you some basic limit options, but if you click on Additional Limits, you will see a much bigger range of options:

Selecting your limits

For this search, select English Language, Adolescence and Journal Article and then click on Limit a Search:

And finally....

Congratulations! You have now conducted a literature search to find English language journal articles about the use of cognitive behaviour therapy to treat anorexia nervosa in teenagers.


For any queries or further help on searching PsycInfo, contact me on