Why Tests Are Hard
Finding appropriate tests can be challenging. Often there's a tradeoff between getting a good test, getting a test quickly, and getting a test cheaply. For several reasons, there's no one-stop place to locate exactly the right test.
Tests are published in different places, and where a test was published influences how to find it.
- Tests might be published by test publishers and only available for purchase through the publisher. These tests are sometimes called "published tests." A source such as the Mental Measurements Yearbook is a good way to find out where to locate a published test. Once a test is located, there's still the step of getting the test. Often published tests can be expensive.
- Tests might be published in books or journal articles. These tests are sometimes called "unpublished tests." Sources such as Directory of Unpublished Mental Measures or Tests and Measures in the Social Sciences: Tests Available in Compilation Volumes, can assist in locating these tests. Once a test is located, there's still the step of getting the test. Usually it is much easier to get unpublished tests from the library than getting published tests.
Research about tests often is published separate from the tests themselves.
- Sometimes research articles will introduce a test, describe the test's development, scoring, and relationship to other measures of the same construct without actually providing the test itself. This problem often occurs for published tests, but sometimes even unpublished tests will only indicate that the test can be obtained from the author.
- There may be multiple publications containing research that assesses the validity or the reliability of a particular test for different populations.
Even after a test is obtained, there still may be restrictions on its use.
- Even if you have a test in hand, copyright restrictions and restrictions on the use of a test by certified professionals may only allow use of the test for personal study and not for published research or not for administration.