Test Collection | Getting Started and Research Tips


Note: See Reference Sources for more information about the titles cited in this document.

Contents: How Tests Are Published | Identifying Tests on a Subject | Accessing and Using Tests

How Tests Are Published

     In the parlance of psychological testing, a "published" test refers to an instrument that is available for purchase from a commercial publisher. Typically, the test is a kit that includes the test forms, scoring instructions, and a manual with information about the test's development, uses, and its reliability and validity. Some of the major reference tools, such as Mental Measurements Yearbook and Tests in Print limit coverage to this type of measurement instrument. And it is this type of standardized instrument that is the focus of the Test Collection of the University of Chicago Library. For some of the major tests, there are also books published about interpreting and scoring them, and these can be identified by searching in the Library's catalog with the test name and/or acronym.

     In addition to the commercial instruments, tests may appear in the literature in a variety of other ways. Usually these are instruments developed by researchers for a particular project and may not have undergone standardization studies. This type of test may appear as an appendix to a journal article, as an ERIC document, as part of a dissertation or a research report, or in a book that compiles various measures. Sometimes these are referred to as "unpublished" tests to distinguish them from the commercially available standardized products. Some reference sources focus on this second type of test, for example, the Directory of Unpublished Experimental Mental Measures. Citations to this type of test can be retrieved by searching the Health and Psychosocial Instruments (HAPI) Database and limiting the search to "primary source."


Identifying Tests on a Subject

     Most of the basic reference sources for identifying tests include subject indexes and/or a subject arrangement. The most commonly used tests are described in Tests: A Comprehensive Reference for Psychology, Education and Business, while Test Critiques is an excellent source that offers more detailed information about major instruments. Tests in Print offers subject and score indexes and covers a larger number of titles.

     The Test Collection of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) is one of the largest in the world and it offers a freely available search interface into its catalog.

     Subject-oriented databases can be utilized to search for testing information, although the ease of retrieval varies widely. Often searches will retrieve many more citations to studies where a particular test was used compared to the number of sources where a copy of the actual test appeared. In PsycInfo, you can use the limit "Tests and Measures" and when a copy of the instrument is actually included, the word "appended" is used in the record. In databases that do not have similar features, try using a variety of keywords such as test, survey, scale, questionnaire, instrument, etc.

     Many sources are available that focus on assessment instruments for specific populations such as adolescents or special education students or the elderly. Other sources focus on measures for specific conditions or traits such as depression or religiosity. Encyclopedias and handbooks should not be overlooked. For instance, the Encyclopedia of Psychological Assessment describes methodological issues and appropriate measurement techniques and instruments for subjects such as "attachment" and "well-being." A fairly lengthy selection of these works is included in the accompanying Reference Sources guide.


Accessing and Using Tests

     For commercially published tests, copies must be purchased. Most major test publishers maintain catalogs on the company's website. The Association of Test Publishers includes many of the major U.S. companies and it offers a Directory of Member Products and Services. Directories of test publishers are included in Tests in Print and in the print version of the Mental Measurements Yearbook. Test publishers may require purchasers to certify that they are qualified to administer and interpret particular assessment instruments. Qualified faculty can supervise students as they learn certain techniques. One common use of the University of Chicago Library's Test Collection is to review several test samples before making a purchase decision about the instrument to be utilized in a research project.

     For the tests that are available in books and journal literature, a person must obtain permission from the copyright holder before utilizing and/or adapting the instrument in a research project. The copyright holder may be the author of the test or the publisher of the source where the test appeared. For instance, the American Psychological Association is the copyright owner for all materials published in APA journals.

     A variety of ethical, technical and legal standards apply to the construction, administration, and interpretation of tests. See, for example, the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education, and the publications of the Joint Committee on Testing Practices.

     Federal laws and regulations govern research projects that involve human subjects. Universities utilize Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to ensure that the requirements are met. At the University of Chicago, several of these boards exist, depending on the discipline. The University Research Administration compiles this information on its Human Subjects page.