About the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms®

We continue to focus on the Thesaurus by taking a closer look at its history and structure.

The indexing in APA databases is based on the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms®, one of the oldest and best respected reference works in the behavioral sciences.

The First Edition of the Thesaurus appeared in print in 1974. It has since been a constantly growing and evolving reference work. The print Thesaurus was retired after the publication of the 11th edition.

It is currently available as an electronic utility for users searching APA database products on multiple platforms, including APA PsycNET®, CSA Illumina, EBSCOhost, OvidSP, and ProQuest.

In addition to suggesting terms from the controlled vocabulary to search, entries in the Thesaurus may contain the following individual items that provide insight into the terms:

  • Index Term – including date of entry
  • Subject Code – unique five-digit code
  • PsycINFO Posting Notes – number of articles with the term in PsycINFO®
  • Scope Note – definition and/or information about the proper use of the term
  • Historical Note – information about the historical usage of a term since its introduction to the Thesaurus
  • Used For – related terms that are not official index terms
  • Broader Terms – more general index terms
  • Narrower Terms – more specific index terms
  • Related Terms – other index terms to consider