Since 1967, psychologists and other researchers have relied on APA's PsycINFO database to sift through the behavioral science literature in electronic form--today, the database covers the literature back to the early 1800s. APA began making full-text journal articles available to its members in 1998, then extended the offering to institutions as the PsycARTICLES database in 2000.
Now two new companion databases, PsycBOOKS and PsycEXTRA, have expanded APA's online resources to include tens of thousands of full-text book chapters and gray literature items--articles and reports published outside of peer-reviewed journals in forums such as newsletters, magazines, and technical, annual and government reports.
"Until this year, the only thing we covered in full-text form was journal articles," says APA Publisher Gary VandenBos, PhD. "This year, we've added book content, encyclopedia content and gray literature content. We now have a wealth of knowledge available."
APA is offering free trial access to the databases for members and institutions through the end of December and will begin offering paid institutional access in January 2005. At that time, members will be able to receive individual access through the Gold and Platinum member packages.
The APA Books Department has published more than 800 titles since 1955. In January 2000, APA began creating digitized versions of each new book and working backwards to digitize previous titles as well.
"This year, we simply decided that we had a big enough set to release the database," VandenBos explains.
The PsycBOOKS database, which debuted Aug. 15, contains full-text versions of approximately 500 books. About 450 of those are APA books, and 50 are classic psychology books as identified by historians of psychology. The reason not all APA-published books are included, VandenBos says, is that some books, such as texts on state laws, are outdated and not appropriate for long-term use. The database also includes the full text of the APA/Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Psychology, with 1,500 entries.
The PsycEXTRA database, which debuted June 1, includes more than 45,000 records of hard-to-find gray literature in psychology, behavioral science and health. More than 60 percent of the content is full-text.
The database was proposed, approved and brought online in just over a year, VandenBos says. It grew out of suggestions from reference librarians that a one-stop database to find psychology-related gray literature would be useful, he explains. In fact, he says, some libraries have even donated their gray literature collections to the database.
"This stuff is often difficult to track down," he explains. "Our doing it once, centrally, will save most academic librarians and researchers time." PsycEXTRA staff plan to add about 30,000 new items to the database each year and release new content biweekly.