Our Plans for 2011 – What to Expect With APA Electronic Products

PsycINFO's Senior Director, Linda Beebe, provides an overview of our major goals for 2011.

Every year we receive questions about what's on the horizon for APA's electronic products. This article presents a view into the proverbial looking glass to give you a sense of new content, new databases, and enhancements on the drawing board at APA for 2011.

Last year was a time of expanding our capabilities in PsycINFO for new product deployment. And it was a year of growth in existing products as we released nearly 200,000 records into PsycINFO, bringing the database to over 3 million records.

For 2011, we are both planning new products and redesigning familiar ones.


This long-awaited database will be a reality by summer's end. In 2010 staff invested large chunks of time in the research needed to design the database and find content for it. We talked to many librarians and end users at various meetings and in small groups whenever we could. There were multiple discussions at all the library association meetings, and in November we did a Juried Showcase at the Charleston Conference. We also did usability testing and talked about user needs at APA meetings with both graduate students and researchers.

Throughout the process, we have consulted with the APA office for Testing and Assessment. Our goal was to learn as much as we could about how people look for tests, what information they expect to find about the test, and what range of tests they look for. Through an iterative process, we refined our data structure in response to what we learned.

Finding Tests

As our readers know, finding tests is not an easy task. We began with APA journals and public domain web sites, then branched out to other publishers with whom we have negotiated agreements to allow APA to use journal content to build test records. At one point in the fall, we had 37 people searching in "Operation Test Derby." The outcome was thousands of usable tests, and we are continuing to gather them.

On an ongoing basis, we will identify tests as journal articles come through PsycINFO. We will also find them in books for which we have access.

In addition to the unpublished tests, we have been negotiating agreements with commercial publishers to include records and links for their tests. As of mid-February, we have agreements with about 60 publishers. Some will provide only descriptive metadata; others, on the other hand, are giving us sample reports, instructions, even sample questions.


Perhaps the most complex development work has related to the integration with other APA databases. Although we were first focused on delivery on APA PsycNET, it became clear that thinking about integration was also key to delivering a quality database on our third-party vendor partners' platforms.

PsycTESTS location on APA PsycNET

The complexity arises because PsycTESTS has so many unique fields. Some, like Test Name, can be mapped to existing fields; however, many stand alone.

These include the following:

  • Alternate Test Name
  • Test Construct
  • Acronym
  • Test Purpose
  • Supporting Documentation
  • Test Record Type
  • Permissions
  • Setting
  • Accommodation
  • Reliability
  • Fee
  • Validity
  • Test Format
  • Number of Test Items
  • Administration Format
  • Administration Time

On the APA PsycNET platform, users will be able to browse PsycTESTS in several ways. These include Test Name/Acronyms, Construct, Test Author, and Year.

Screen shot of PsycTESTS browse function on APA PsycNET

Facets on the Results page will enable users to narrow a search by Index Terms, Author Affiliation, Construct, Author, Test Year, Age Group, and Population Group.

Screen shot of PsycTESTS facets in search results screen on APA PsycNET


Our initial goal had been to launch PsycTESTS in July; however, the design phase ate into development time. Consequently, we are expecting the beta to be available in July with a full launch planned for September. In addition to production of the records and completion of the changes to the platform, APA will be producing documentation, webinars, and other training materials. You should be able to see an alpha at the ALA Annual meeting in New Orleans.

The next question is likely "what about pricing?" APA should have final pricing within a few weeks.

APA PsycNET Dictionary Enhancement

As readers probably know, APA produced the APA Dictionary of Psychology in 2006 and subsequently released both the APA Concise Dictionary of Psychology (2008) and the APA College Dictionary of Psychology (2009). Choice described it as "a landmark dictionary of psychology that is at once erudite and accessible."

Later this spring, APA PsycNET will be enhanced with definitions from that landmark publication. Users reading full-text content in HTML (in PsycARTICLES and PsycCRITIQUES initially) will have the ability to find a definition for words that have a dotted underline.

To make the tool as useful as possible, Reference Works staff in APA Books carefully pruned some of the 25,000 terms from the print dictionary feeling that the more common words would be construed as noise.

Participants in the alpha were enthusiastic about the additional tool, and we hope that institutional users will be as well. Administrators will have the option to turn it off if they so choose. This is a platform enhancement, not content added to the databases; consequently, it will be available only in APA PsycNET.

PsycEXTRA Facelift and Expansion

With more than 200,000 records, the gray literature database has been acquiring more and more important content. A staff PsycEXTRA Task Force developed a new mission statement for the database in October 2010:

PsycEXTRA is the premier resource for information and data for cutting-edge research and practice in the behavioral and social sciences. It is also an archive of gray literature that documents the development of psychology.

Once the mission was clarified, we began a push for expansion in some key areas. For content, we are bringing in more technical reports and conference presentations, as well as standards, patents, clinical trials, grants, and other substantive documents.

With more resources devoted to negotiating with content owners, we are acquiring new content from many psychological organizations, both domestic and international, and related national organizations. For example, the Society for Research in Child Development recently began archiving their content with PsycEXTRA, as did the American School Counselor Association. A new Crown Copyright agreement with Australia is also yielding important documents.

Every release brings new cutting edge content. If you have not listened to any of the PsycEXTRA podcasts Customer Relations is producing, I highly recommend them. Recently, they have explored new research on our need for light and Seasonal Affective Disorder, video accelerated innovation, patent information on speech recognition, and male circumcision as a means to help slow the spread of HIV.

And the facelift? PsycEXTRA has now been available for several years, and we thought it was time for some change. As the number of content owners associated with the database has grown to more than a thousand, it has become more important that the presentation of their names be standardized.

We also have found additional types of documents, some of which—such as patents—are in the database, but not currently searchable. So, we are adding Patent, Grant, Dissertation, and Website/Blog as new document types. The Dissertation will not overlap PsycINFO, as they will be full-text documents from other countries.

Some document types are being renamed to make them easier to use or to incorporate additional content. For example, Video is being renamed to Multimedia to accommodate audio podcasts.

Early this Summer you will see a spiffed-up PsycEXTRA. And we will continue to expand coverage. The goal is to have it up to 300,000 records in a year or so.

PsycINFO Reload for 2011

For the past several years, APA has been updating the database once a year with new features and functions. The reload is also an opportunity to issue mass corrections as we continue to carry out clean-up projects on very old data.

Generally, we have produced the reload in the Spring; however, with so much other developmental work going on, it seemed wiser to postpone the reload to the Fall. We have several small changes in mind, but nothing dramatic at this point.

We would still welcome suggestions for improvement for the 2011 release. The plan is to release the reloaded database at the beginning of December so that vendors will have time to process it and have it up before the Spring semester begins.

Other Projects

There are a number of other projects in the works or recently completed:

  • APA Journals staff collaborated with other APA staff to produce an app for journals around the first of the year. Both the iPhone app and the iPad app are available free through iTunes.
  • APA Books staff are working on a streaming video product. Watch for news later in the year.
  • More work is being done to enhance APA PsycNET, and additional changes will be made to integrate PsycTESTS and the changes in PsycEXTRA.
  • Three APA publications staff are participating in the NISO-NFAIS Supplemental Materials Working Group to develop recommended practices for this growing area of journal publishing. We expect to have completed practices ready for distribution and comment later in the year. Much of the work is intersecting with the burgeoning interest in archiving data of all kinds.
  • The APA Publisher is convening a Data Task Force, which will meet for the first time in March. Members are being asked to develop recommendations for how APA should be considering issues around collecting data and making it accessible.
  • APA is a Founding Member of ORCID, the organization incorporated in 2010 to manage the collection and maintenance of author identifiers. Work is proceeding on the ORCID beta.

It will undoubtedly be a busy year. Do stay tuned for more announcements—and please share your thoughts on where APA should go with electronic products.