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Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms

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The Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms is a book containing the controlled vocabulary used in the databases of the American Psychological Association and used by APA's professional indexers to index all of APA’s databases: PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, PsycBOOKS, PsycEXTRA, and PsycCRITIQUES.

This controlled vocabulary was designed to provide a means of structuring the subject matter of psychology and to serve as an efficient indexing and retrieval tool. It offers some uniformity for searching and retrieving of records and can be considered to be the basis of a knowledge structure for psychology. Indeed the terms form the basis for the development of the articles on the Psychology Wiki.

The List was first published in 1974, cataloguing the 800 index terms used in Psychological Abstracts. The most recent 10th edition, published in 2004 had 8,000 terms. Updates are produced annually

The Thesaurus has three sections:

  • Relationship Section - displays hierarchical relationships between terms.
  • Rotated Alphabetical Terms Section, alphabetically lists all the standard and cross-referenced terms by each of its component words.
  • Term Clusters Section, organizes terms into comprehensive, conceptual lists.

PsycINFO Classification Codes can be used to categorise psychological papers.


They were developed by the American Psychological Association so that every record in the PsycINFO databases receives a classification code, which is used to categorize the document according to the primary subject matter.

In time all the terms in the thesaurus will be covered by relevent articles on this wiki and will be tagged with the search number code, making them consistent with the APA database.



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