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Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms®

Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms Eleventh Edition released June 15, 2007

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What's New in the 2012 Update

Updated Terms Now Available (PDF, 26 KB)

  • 73 new postable or "preferred" terms
  • 51 new nonpostable or "used for" cross-referencing terms
  • 13 new status changes

What Are Index Terms?

Index terms are controlled vocabulary terms used in database records to make searching easier and more successful. By standardizing the words or phrases used to represent concepts, you don't need to try and figure out all the ways different authors could refer to the same concept. Each record in APA's databases contains controlled vocabulary terms from the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms.

APA staff index records according to the source document's level of specificity. For example, an experimental population labeled "high school students" will be indexed with the term "High School Students", not the broader and less specific term "Students". Therefore, any relevant narrower terms should be included in the list of index terms in your search. Related terms may also closely match a search topic, and should be considered as well.

Why is a Controlled Vocabulary Essential for Searching?

With the wide variety of concepts and vocabulary used in the psychological literature, search and retrieval of records about specific concepts is virtually impossible without the controlled vocabulary of a thesaurus. This controlled vocabulary provides a way of structuring the subject matter in a way that is consistent among users (e.g., searching for Dysphoria, Melancholia, and Depression can all be achieved by searching the term "Major Depression").

Online Thesaurus Searching

Each database vendor labels the index terms field differently, and some vendors include an online Thesaurus, so check the search help for the search system you are using to see how to search using index terms. If we have a search guide for your system, you'll also find the information there.

Please visit our Field Guide for more details on other fields in PsycINFO records.

Thesaurus Features

  • Includes more than 8,200 standard and cross-referenced terms.
  • New terms are mapped back to all relevant records in APA's databases spanning all years.
  • Scope notes define the terms.
  • Historical notes include information about the historical usage of terms since their introduction.
  • Term hierarchies show the relationship to other terms.
  • Posting notes tell how many times the term has been used in APA database records when the Thesaurus was published.
  • The year indicates when the term was added to the Thesaurus.

Related Links

If you have feedback or want to suggest new terms, please email PsycINFO.