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Peter's Picks & Pans

Magazine article Online

Peter's Picks & Pans

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PSYCLine Journal Locator

Mental Health Abstracts

Psychology is one of the most popular fields for undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate studies. It tells you something when, as of mid-May 2003, there were already 5,396 dissertations written in 2002 filed in the free ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. For the same period, there are only 1,595 computer science dissertations. Comparing counts over the entire database shows 225,105 for psychology versus 41,147 for computer science. Although computer science is catching up, it is clear that there are many students and faculty who need information about, and access to, scholarly sources in psychology.

For this reason, I dedicate this column to psychology-related sources. The two picks are the PsycARTICLES database as implemented by the American Psychological Association and the Journal Locator subset of PsycLINE. The pan is the Mental Health Abstracts database which has been clinically dead for 3 years and should be deep-sixed rather than sold at the absurd hourly connect rate of $70. Considering its utterly stale and cringingly inferior content, its price is outrageous-the superb PsycINFO database costs $30/connect hour. This is particularly peculiar since Mental Health Abstracts is now owned by the American Psychological Association.


The American Psychological Association (APA) has been doing a good job in developing its core database, PsycINFO, innovating time and again-such as with the creation and interlinking of monographic and analytical records for books, offering direct end-user service through PsycINFO Direct at the very affordable rate of $11.95 for a day, and now with the PsycARTICLES database []. PsycARTICLES has more than 30,000 full-text documents, in HTML and/or PDF format, at the standard price of $11.95 per document.

The database claims it has articles from 49 (or maybe it's 48) journals, most of them published by APA (including 13 titles from the Educational Publishing Foundation [EPA] imprint, three by the Canadian Psychological Association, and five English-language journals from Hogrefe & Huber, the well-known German publisher). Oddly, there are no articles from APA's own free, electronic-only journal Prevention & Treatment, even though it's listed as one of the included titles. There is a note at the bottom of the source list hyperlinking you to the journal's Web site. Since APA plans to discontinue the publication at the end of 2003, it may not be worth worrying about whether it is or is not in PsycARTICLES.

This may seem to be a limited journal base by the numbers alone, but it is quite a prestigious set, almost as good as Ovid's Mental Health Collection. The Journal Citations Reports (JCR) cover 37 of the journals, and 20 of them are in the top quartile of the 469 psychology and psychiatry journals by Impact Factor, as well as by the number of citations received in 2001, the latest JCR year available as I write this. One of the journals, the American Psychologist, ranks #3 in OCLC WorldCat in terms of the number of OCLC member libraries which have or had a subscription to journals classified under the subject headings of psychology or psychiatry. Five additional journals of PsycARTICLES share the 9-13th rank in the above WorldCat category. There are also 85 APA handbooks with analytical records for every chapter, adding about 1,100 records

The software, PLWeb, allows you to browse journal tables of content by seven categories and offers a good search template. The software does automatic pluralization and singularization, so crime and crimes retrieve the same number of articles. Automatic stemming is not that straightforward: gambling did retrieve gamble and gamblers, but gamblers as a search term did not retrieve gambling. Boolean AND, OR, proximity, and exact phrase searching options are available, but they are not intuitive. …

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