Members searching APA's Online Member Services and reading articles from as far back as 1997 are seeing blue buttons that will lead them to more and more information--a virtual "web" of connected research. These buttons, which are live links to records in the PsycINFO abstract database, are the first stage of a total linking system that APA has begun to implement called PsycREF.
PsycREF uses technology called Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and CrossRef, a collaboration of scholarly and commercial publishers that links all literature published by participants. Participating publishers deposit a DOI for each article into the electronic journal files and can harvest DOIs for the articles cited in their reference lists.
APA, for example, initially deposited more than 44,000 DOIs to enable links to every article APA has published from 1968 to the end of 2000. APA also gathered DOIs from other publishers to insert into PsycINFO records and reference lists for APA journals. With every new release, more links will be created.
In most systems, users start with one article or one abstract, and the references in the first article may lead to a search for other articles or abstracts in different databases. Now PsycREF, which links PsycINFO, APA's abstract database, and PsycARTICLES, the full-text database of articles from more than 40 journals published by APA and allied organizations, makes searching for information easier.
Users can move back and forth seamlessly from PsycINFO to PsycARTICLES or from a reference to an article in a totally different database. In PsycINFO, look for the words "full text" in blue and click once to get to the full text of the article. In PsycARTICLES' reference lists, look for the blue button at the end of a reference and click to get to the abstract.
The service enables users to reach a vast array of resources.
"As a publisher, APA produces both primary literature--journal articles, book chapters and books--and secondary materials--particularly PsycINFO abstracts," explains Hal Warren, director of APA's Internet Services. "Because APA has huge amounts of information--1.7 million records in PsycINFO and more than 26,000 articles in PsycARTICLES--we're able to link a large number of the abstracts in a given reference list."
Linking APA primary and secondary literature is relatively easy because the files are so extensive, he notes. In fact, APA has digitized literature dating back to 1988. Linking to other publishers is more difficult because few have digitized past journal articles and some do not offer any electronic material. However, the number of links to articles available from other publishers will increase as more publishers produce electronic files.
In addition to linking references, the PsycREF process will simplify citing electronic documents. Users can click on a gray paragraph symbol and a pop-up screen will display the citation for that paragraph in APA style--ready to be cut and pasted into a reference list.
"Psychology has become such a big field that it seems more segmented each year," says Gary VandenBos, PhD, executive director of APA Publications and Communications. "Making a true web of scientific information will help enhance mutual influences across many areas of science."
PsycREF, including references to journal articles published by others, will be fully implemented by April 15. Members who have purchased access to PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES will find live reference links in articles for 1997 through 2001. Soon articles that are not cited in PsycINFO will be linked to Medline and APA will link PsycINFO records and PsycARTICLES references to other publishers as well.
Readers can try out the paragraph citation feature of PsycREF by searching Prevention & Treatment, APA's free online journal. Just click on the gray symbol and the citation for that paragraph will appear.