The PsycINFO Production Process: Behind the Scenes

We trace the creation of a PsycINFO record, from journal acquisition to release, with an emphasis on the Neuroscience Task Force and its focus on increasing neuroscience content.

The PsycINFO bibliographic database contains almost 3 million abstracts and citations from sources including journal articles, book chapters, and other scholarly materials. The records that make up the database encompass the field of psychology as well as psychological aspects of related disciplines.

Beginning in 2008, PsycINFO has evolved to include further coverage of materials in neuroscience, not just those that have psychological content, but the full spectrum of neuroscience. A Neuroscience Task Force (NTF) was formed, comprising bibliographic production staff with a special interest, educational background, and expertise in the neurosciences.

In this article, we trace the creation of a PsycINFO record, from journal acquisition to release.

The process begins with journal acquisition and accessioning. To select journals appropriate for our database, content development staff members correspond with publishers/editors in the search for new content. A review committee ultimately decides upon journal inclusion or rejection; this decision is then approved by Linda Beebe, PsycINFO's Senior Director. Once a journal is accepted, PsycINFO arranges for regular delivery of the journal, usually in electronic form.

With the recent push to include more neuroscience content, the NTF selects all articles from approved journals for database inclusion, whereas previously we covered neuroscience journals selectively. One neuroscience journal acquired under this initiative is BMC Neuroscience. We now have 309 results from the journal added, all of which have been converted into records by the talented NTF staff. All record titles are entered into our database after having been properly formatted. Selected records consist of editorials, research articles, comments, errata, and reviews.

After selection has been completed, NTF members proceed to enter all bibliographic information. This includes data on pagination; author names, affiliations, and correspondence; copyright and publication; sponsorship/grants; conferences; and reviewed items.

Next, an abstract is either created or pulled from the source material. For abstract creation, staff members will often adopt the perspective of a novice PsycINFO user while accurately representing the authors' work.

The article is thoroughly searched to ensure proper check tag entry regarding document type, methodology, auxiliary material, population, age group, and geographic location information. All tests or measures used in the research are also captured in a special tests and measures field

What we in PsycINFO affectionately refer to as "C&I" (classification and indexing) usually takes the most time and effort to perfect. Because work assigned to the NTF is often quite technical, NTF members commit to a great deal of term research during this portion of production. First, natural language key words are added. Index terms (pulled from PsycINFO's own term thesaurus) must accurately represent what the article is about, and the article is then classified accordingly.

During the C&I process, NTF members seek to broaden PsycINFO's thesaurus by identifying new terms for thesaurus inclusion. Proposed new terms are comprehensively researched for added value and usability by the NTF and APA's taxonomist.

Once the bibliographic production has been completed, we proofread the entire record for grammatical errors/typos. But most of our quality review (QR) time is spent checking for conceptual accuracy.

  • Is all bibliographic information properly input?
  • If the article's abstract is created by our staff (rather then by the record's author), does it fairly represent the article content?
  • Are the check tags applied correctly?
  • Are all of the tests used in a study accounted for in our tests field?
  • Are index terms and keywords applied appropriately?
  • Is the article classified correctly?

We take pride in our work and strive to consistently put out a quality product for our consumers.

Once all corrections have been entered, the completed record is released from workflow—and a record goes into the PsycINFO database in the next weekly release

Special thanks to the entire NTF (Elissa Bush, Amy Carey, Cyndy Nixon, and Michele Chang), managed by James Whitfield (Associate Production Manager, PsycINFO).