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American Psychological Association Launches New Databases
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Posted On July 12, 2004
The American Psychological Association (APA) has been a leading provider of information resources in the behavioral sciences for many years, with its PsycINFO database being a staple in academic and research libraries. Recently, there's been a flurry of activity at the venerable organization, as it readied several new psychology databases for public view, reloaded PsycINFO, and enhanced its renowned Thesaurus, now in its 10th Edition and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

APA announced the launch of its new full-text database, PsycBOOKS, with free trials available from Aug. 15, 2004, through Sept. 30, 2004, on APA's PsycNET service. APA also announced that PsycCRITIQUES, a new searchable database of book reviews in psychology, will launch in September 2004. And, it has extended free trials through Sept. 30, 2004, of the PsycEXTRA gray literature database on PsycNET.

The initial release of PsycBOOKS will include over 600 books, with more than 10,000 individual chapters, published by APA and over 1,500 entries from the Encyclopedia of Psychology, co-published by APA and Oxford University Press, as well as a selection of archival books from other publishers. The file will also be released at that time for loading by other vendors.

Customers said they wanted access to individual chapters, according to Linda Beebe, senior director, PsycINFO. She said that APA had been digitizing its books but hadn't been sure of exactly what to do with them. The format of the books is PDF with "image over text," allowing full-text searching within chapters and of the PsycINFO records' metadata and references. When PsycBOOKS is implemented on vendor systems, such as OVID's online platform, the interface will differ but the features will be the same. However, Ovid's Multi-file feature will allow researchers to search APA resources along with other books, journals, and databases.

Beebe said the APA has been working on getting the full-text rights to key archival texts. The bibliographic records have already been in PsycINFO. About 50 book titles are now ready with another 50 almost cleared.

The PsycCRITIQUES database of book reviews in psychology will replace APA's bimonthly print journal, Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books. According to Beebe, it will provide major enhancements, very current reviews, and much more content. The migration to electronic will take place between September 2004, when the database goes live, and December 2004, when the final print issue will be published.

In each weekly release, PsycCRITIQUES will deliver approximately 15 reviews of psychological books, mostly from the current year. Optional e-mail alerts will provide the table of contents and abstracts from each weekly issue. The site will show book covers, tables of contents, and several weeks' issues. PsycCRITIQUES will also include a searchable backfile of approximately 4,000 reviews from 1995-2003.

APA also announced the offering of extended free trials, through Sept. 30, 2004, of the PsycEXTRA gray literature database on APA's PsycNET search system. PsycEXTRA will also soon be available via EBSCOhost. PsycEXTRA is a database of the "gray literature" in psychology and related behavioral fields, providing access to relevant material published outside traditional peer-reviewed journals or scholarly books.

In addition to abstracts, citations, and full indexing, PsycEXTRA also includes full text for many of the records. Beebe said it currently includes about 43,000 documents comprising about 100,000 pages of full text. By fall there should be 50,000 to 60,000 documents.

At this point, each APA database is searched separately on PsycNET, but Beebe said the files derive from the same index and employ field labels that are as similar as possible. In June, the APA reloaded its entire PsycINFO bibliographic database to deliver new enhancements and features and incorporate additions in its revised Thesaurus. The reformatted database is also now available to its 13 vendors for reloading. New features include:

  • Updated Thesaurus utility with over 200 new terms
  • New index terms "mapped back" to older records in the database
  • Some tests names "mapped back" to older records in the database
  • Inclusion of both published and unpublished test names in the Test & Measures field
  • More retrospective cited references

In addition, a new historical notes field captures changes in the use of terms from their introduction into the Thesaurus vocabulary to the present.

By the way, if you happened to read Peter Jacso's column in the July/Aug issue of Information Today (http://www.infotoday.com/IT/jul04/jacso.shtml), in which he criticized linking problems he found in PsycINFO (written in mid-June), Beebe assured me that these errors were corrected in the June 22 reload.

Why the reason for such a buzz of activity in the organization at this time? Beebe said it was somewhat serendipitous that all the database developments happened at the same time: "Each product had its own reasons and everything just seemed to come together." She added, "It's exciting—it feels like we have escalated quickly."


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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