PsycTESTS®: Wants You!

The newly launched PsycTESTS® database, our research database for tests and measures, receives much of its content from contributions from authors and now from library collections. We highlight a recent large contribution to PsycTESTS from Rutgers University.

By now we imagine that most of you have at least heard of APA's PsycTESTS® database, our new research database for tests and measures.

A little history: We announced development of PsycTESTS in January 2010, confidently predicting it would debut by late in 2010. That turned out to be an overly-optimistic goal. Creating PsycTESTS quickly showed itself as one of the most difficult tasks we've ever undertaken.

We discovered that to create the tool we envisioned, we needed to build a database that would connect multiple parts. To do so, we created a test master profile with supporting records for academic test development, review, and use research or, in their absence, a primary data record. We added the ability to link to a source record. Finally, we made it possible to link to the test content itself and any supporting documentation.

But before we can do any of that, we need to know about the test itself.

Mommy, Where Do Tests Come From?

Finding tests is challenging. Very, challenging. We documented our early efforts last year in PsycTESTS: "Operation Test Derby." Since that time, we've added additional resources and both APA staff and freelancers to the quest.

Our goal is ambitious. We want to have 5,000 tests by the end of this year and between 12,000 and 20,000 by the end of 2012. To meet those goals, we need to be culling tests from a number of areas.

Active researchers play a critical role in test acquisition. Inclusion benefits the authors by publicizing their measures, and it benefits PsycTESTS by providing us with the most complete tests and documentation. If you are in contact with staff researchers or students who may have developed tests in pursuit of a thesis or dissertation, please direct them to our Call for Tests information.

Academic journals are another major source of tests. Many have been published in APA journals, and we've tried to include all of those. In addition, journals are also wonderful resources for data. By reviewing Method sections and test checklists, we find test leads and information on what tests are being actively used.

Books also provide test information, especially major review books.

We are also looking at public domain sites, and we have some commercial tests and historical tests in the database.

Rutgers University Donation

Library test collections so far have remained a largely untapped resource. But that's beginning to change. For example, we recently received a large donation from Rutgers University.

Let's tell you a little bit about the history of that collection, as it may parallel a situation in your own library.

Their collection was developed in the late 1990s by one of the education librarians, who was the liaison to the Graduate School of Education. The collection and its finding aid had been housed in the reference department — under lock and key — in Rutgers Alexander Library. However, because there was no good means of discovery, it was underutilized.

Recently, following a decision to repurpose the space in which it was housed, the librarians covering psychology, social work, and education began discussing the best ways to deal with the collection. Laura Mullen, a librarian from Rutgers, reported that the consensus was that the collection had value and should be available to researchers. "Ultimately," Laura said, "we decided, based on our recent analysis of PsycTESTS and our relationships with the people at APA, that it would be in the best interests of all to donate the collection to APA. We felt confident that APA would know not only the value of the material, but whether it could fill any gaps in the developing PsycTESTS database. We felt that if we could contribute content to PsycTESTS, that it would be a 'win win' for all involved, but especially for the research community."

We were delighted to get five large boxes of tests. When unpacked they fill three large file drawers. Running an eye over the waiting rows, one can see that they offer an alphabetical smorgasbord, beginning with an Adaptive Behavior Scale for Children and Adults in the A's and ending all the way at the Z's with the Zimmerman–Sanders Social Studies Test.

Certainly, we won't be able to add them all to PsycTESTS. Our staff is just beginning to go through what they've sent. There will be permissions issues to resolve and some will probably duplicate measures already in the database, but they promise a rich harvest, with full text, manuals, and extensive administration and scoring information.

Which brings us to our last point. Do you have a collection of tests in your library that you're wondering whether you should still give shelf space? Do you have resources that you think may be duplicated in other ways? Do you know of research institutes with unpublished tests and related research? If so, we may be able to help each other, and assuredly academic researchers would profit from the collaboration. Please contact PsycTESTS.