Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Autism Resources for Parents: PsycINFO

This pathfinder will share an annotated list of reference sources, indexes, databases, and other content to help users begin to conduct research on the topic of Autism Spectrum Disorder.



EBSCOhost provides access to more than 50 databases which include citations, abstracts and selected full-text, which are made available through the UK Libraries database directory. One of the most relevant databases for the context of exploring autism, is the database PsycINFO,


  • Provides abstracts and citations to scholarly literature in the psychological, social, behavioral, and health sciences. 
  • Updated weekly and provides access to journal articles, books, chapters, and dissertations. 
  • User-friendly, mobile-enabled website
  • Mobile App is available.
  • Users can search within the full-text in articles, smart-text searching, and Boolean searching.

EBSCOhost databases allow you to refine your search queries to expand or narrow your results. Search by:

  • Fields (title, author, and subject), 
  • Publication, full text, peer-reviewed, publication date, source types, publisher, and language.

 EBSCOhost offers you the ability to:

  • Create accounts and customize your experience, 
  • Create folders & manage alerts, 
  • Search the entire contents of the database by keyword, 
  • Save search queries, 
  • & Export to reference management tools like Endnote. 


The indexes and abstracts exist electronically but when a citation doesn’t have full-text available, the discovery system will link to ILLiad so users can immediately place an ILL request. 

PsycINFO’s record structure includes title, with source type listed directly below (e.g., academic journal), citation information (including author(s), publisher, publication, dates, volumes, issues, page numbers, etc.), abstract preview, subject terms assigned, and finally the PDF or HTML full text. 

PsycINFO Keywords

PscyINFO Keywords:

For this example, we'll refine the search to documents from 2000 to present.

From the Advanced Search page, select KW Keywords from the drop-down field menu. Some examples of Keywords that might be relevant for families seeking more information about their child's autism diagnosis include:

Autis* (* broadens a search and retrieves results for autism and autistic)

Diagnos* (* broadens a search by retrieving results for diagnose and diagnosis)

Parent* (* broadens a search by retrieving results for parent, parents, and parenting)

Child* (* broadens a search by retrieving results for child and children)

Famil* (* broadens a search by retrieving results for family or families)


These keywords can be combined with Boolean operators. Autis* AND diagnos* AND child* AND parent* 

This combined keyword search resulted in 74 results. 

if these keywords are combined with famil* KW, then it narrows the results to 8 results for even more precision:

Autis* AND diagnos* AND child* AND parent* AND famil*

PscyINFO Instructions

PscyINFO Instructions

In PsycINFO, there are 42 Search fields. Some of the more commonly used search fields are: TX All text, TI Title, AU Author, MM main subject headings, KW Keyword, and SU Subjects. PsycINFO provides a list of subject headings which helps users formulate effective search strategies. It utilizes Boolean operators (and, or and not) which can be used to broaden or narrow a search. ‚Äč

This database allows proximity searches to search for two words that occur within a specified number of words of each other. When using the Near Operator N5 through PsycINFO, it provides results when entered as: autism N5 parenting.

PscyINFO Thesauri Descriptors/Subject Headings

PsycINFO Thesauri Descriptors/Subject Headings

PsycINFO offers a useful thesaurus, perpetual help links, and a list of subject headings which help users understand controlled vocabulary, formulate effective search strategies, and increase the chance of locating the appropriate terms in a search. 

In this example, we'll use the thesaurus to locate the controlled vocabulary to obtain documents on the topic of autism and the context of parenting a child on the autism spectrum. 

1. At the top of the PsycINFO page, there is a global navigation bar that lists New Search, Thesaurus, Cited References & Indexes. Select Thesaurus from the blue bar and it will take you to the page below.

2. You can start broad and search Autism by relevancy. The thesaurus will then inform you to use "Autism Spectrum Disorders" instead of autism. 

3. Continue to search terms that are relevant to your information need. For example, childhood will yield "Early childhood development" among other options. Then add another term such as "parent" which will yield "parenting." If you'd like to search a combination of "parent" or "family," you can search both by using the boolean operator OR. (See below).



Additionally, you can search PscyINFO and refine your search by locating the Major Subject Headings listed on the left-hand side (see below). You can combine subject headings to search for autism spectrum disorders AND diagnosis. Or you can broaden your search by searching autism spectrum disorders OR developmental disabilities.