PsycTESTS: "Operation Test Derby"

APA staff and freelancers have been engaging in a carefully constructed strategy to find tests for the new PsycTESTS database.

You know how hard it is to find tests. After months of searching, APA staff responsible for building content for PsycTESTS, a new research database for tests and measures, understand your pain. Doing carefully constructed searches, they had found a good number. And they had digitized several hundred from the test collection at the Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP) in Akron. But the inventory wasn't growing fast enough.

The solution? "Operation Test Derby" engaged 25 staff and freelancers in a carefully constructed strategy to comb APA journals and public domain sites for tests. Rather than using general searches, staff literally reviewed every article in six APA journals published from 1970 to 2010. These journals were chosen because they had yielded the most tests in previous searches. Content Development staff had also identified several government web sites that contained substantial numbers of tests in the public domain.

Searchers were asked to track their time and the number of tests they found so that management can gauge which strategies were most effective. Reference librarians will not be surprised to learn that assessment, addiction, and social psychology journals yield the most tests and measures.

Operation Test Derby was a resounding success, providing close to 2,000 tests for the inventory. Staff are now following on with other APA journals. Content Development staff have negotiated with several large publishers to enable APA to use their journals to create records for the database. Once staff identify tests in those journals, we will negotiate permissions to include the tests. We have also been soliciting tests from authors with marked success.

Three Types of Tests

PsycTESTS will include materials on three kinds of tests.

The main focus is unpublished tests, those developed by researchers for use in their work but not made commercially available. For as many as possible, APA will include the full text of the tests and measures. The records for these will be based on published accounts of test development or evaluation. In some cases, there will be a record based on use of a test when it has been used for a new population or setting.

The second category are the tests from AHAP, which may not be literature based.

And the third is commercially available tests. APA now has agreements with several commercial test publishers to create records for their tests and, in some cases, to include sample reports, instructions, or sample questions.

All records will be indexed and include fields for validity and reliability data (when available), test purpose, construct, format, number of items, and more.

The database is currently in the developmental stage, and although we knew this project was ambitious, the scope and variables it entails continue to impress us. Even though many authors intend for their tests to be reused and adapted by later researchers, finding the full text of tests can be a challenge. And tests do often inspire their authors, or new authors, to create variations, each with a new name. Authors also create new tests by combining elements from two or more existing tests. In addition, within every test there may be named or unnamed subtests.

It is our challenge to find and display all of this information clearly and accurately so that a researcher can easily find a test that matches his or her needs. Given this challenge, building the PsycTESTS database will be an iterative and interactive process.

The Content Development staff will then apply the assessment skills they use for PsycINFO to PsycTESTS to determine whether tests are a good fit for the PsycTESTS database. After we identify tests, the team of bibliographic specialists who create the meticulously indexed PsycINFO records will be creating PsycTESTS records.

If you have a test you would like included in PsycTESTS, visit the Call for Tests page. For inclusion in the database, unpublished tests must have been described in a peer-reviewed journal article, dissertation, technical report, or book.

When will PsycTESTS be available? The beta release is planned for April 4, 2011, and APA expects to have the database on the market in June.

APA has been soliciting input from many audiences over the course of development for PsycTESTS, and we're still listening. This database will evolve over time, and we invite your suggestions and feedback.