The E-Psyche Online Database: Implications for the Field of Social Psychology

Article excerpt

This study evaluates the effectiveness of the e-psyche database with particular focus for researchers in social psychology. Descriptive terms from the field were selected and comparative online searches between e-psyche and PsycINFO were conducted. An analysis of the productivity (citation output) of these databases points to the potential usefulness of e-psyche for social psychology researchers due to its larger "source base" either as a single database or in conjunction with a multidatabase search strategy. These findings provide evidence in support of the utility of e-psyche as a behavioral/social science literature source.

The literature base for the field of psychology has become not only extensive but also multidisciplinary and overlapping with those of other behavioral sciences (e.g., sociology, social work, criminology, and neurology). Despite this vast research base, most investigators continue to rely solely on one bibliographic source, namely, PsycINFO. Indeed, since 1967, PsycINFO has been considered the authoritative scholarly database for psychologically-related literature (Brand & Kinzie 1984; Perdue & Piotrowski, 1991). In the fall of 2000, Dennis Auld and John Kuranz introduced a new behavioral and social sciences database known as e-psyche. Auld brings much practical experience to this endeavor as he is the former director of PsycINFO services at the American Psychological Association. Specifically, e-psyche ultimately aims to have 3,400 source journals and newsletters, along with select dissertations and websites added on a continuing basis. Presently, e-psyche includes journal coverage since 1993, with approximately 85,000 records. A key feature of this new database is the inclusion of complete, cited-text references for each record (which are similar to "cited references" in the Social Sciences Citation Index). In addition, researchers have the option to search "cited references" by all original source authors, and are not limited to "first authors" only.

While several basic information reports on e-psyche have appeared in online and library outlets, there is a dearth of studies that critically analyze the database. However, Johnstone (2000) suggests that PsycINFO DIRECT, which is part of APA's PsycPORT web site, may have some rival features with e-psyche, such as full-text options, and low search fees. In an objective evaluation, Jasco (2000) highlights several of the key features of the PsycINFO database that have propelled it to become the premier research source in the behavioral sciences, but concludes that e-psyche may become a serious challenger.

Recently, Perdue and Piotrowski (in press) discussed the advantages and limitations of e-psyche; however, to date, no published research has appeared on the productivity of actual search results between e-psyche and PsycINFO. Thus, the purpose of the current investigation is to illustrate with examples from the field of social psychology a comparison of search output between e-psyche and PsycINFO.

METHOD

First, a descriptive comparison between the e-psyche and PsycINFO databases is presented in Table 1. Although e-psyche provides coverage from 1993 forward, some of its source journals are not yet fully indexed before 1996. For comparison purposes, several search strategies were conducted in e-psyche and PsycINFO with date limitations imposed from 1998+ in some cases, and 1999+ in others. The purpose of this search strategy was to determine whether or not the e-psyche search produced relevant citations that do not appear in PsycINFO since the former provides indexing to a larger source list. Our goal was to attempt to identify the number of "unique hits" produced by e-psyche that are not available in PsycINFO. Table 2 exhibits the results of several search strategies in which 2 single-search terms were entered in both databases, and 3 strategies in which combinations of 2 or more terms were entered. The next step was to search the "titles" resulting from the e-psyche output in PsycINFO and determine the number of "titles" that do not appear in PsycINFO, thus identifying the number of "unique hits" produced by e-psyche. …