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Psychology: Identifying Potential Tests to Use

Identifying Potential Tests

Use these techniques when you are determining a psychological test or measure to employ in your research project:

1. Review your existing body of literature
2. Search the APA PsycInfo database
3. Search the APA PsycTests database

1. Review Your Existing Body of Literature

"The best evidence for the validity and reliability of tests is the accumulation of literature that has used and vetted a specific test.

In other words, you need to return to the body of scholarly articles that are closely related to your question.

  • Go through your articles one-by-one.
  • Make a list. Write down the exact name of any instruments that are mentioned.
  • Skim through to the methodology and results sections.
  • Pay special attention to the tests the authors used and how the researchers describe them.
  • In addition to skimming for information about validity and reliability, you will want to make sure that the test measures relevant variables for the appropriate population that you need to support your research."

Capella University "Finding Tests and Survey Instruments"

2. Search the APA PsycInfo Database

Scenario #1: I'm looking for the names of tests administered for a particular topic

Simple search: 

  1. Search your topic in PsycInfo, ex: seasonal affective disorder.
  2. When reviewing the results, select the Complete Reference; if any tests were administered, this will be noted in the Tests & Measures field. This can be time-consuming if there are a lot of references to review. 

Too many references to quickly review? You can limit to only those references that have content in the Tests & Measures field. To do this:

  1. Like before, search your topic in PsycInfo, ex: seasonal affective disorder.
  2. Select Search Fields from the main search page, and in the search box, copy and paste the following search string: (test OR measure* OR survey OR inventory OR append* OR question* OR scale OR manual OR form OR interview OR checklist OR assessment) 
  3. Scroll down, put a checkmark beside tm: Tests & Measures, and select Search.
  4. Finally, combine your topic search with this search.


Scenario #2: I'm looking for studies that discuss the psychometrics for instruments used for a specific topic

  1. Search your topic in PsycInfo, ex: postpartum depression. 
  2. Select Additional Limits, select Tests & Measures, and finally Limit a Search.


Scenario #3: I’m looking for research studies that have used a particular test.

  1. Choose Search Fields on the PsycInfo main search page.
  2. Enter the name of the test, ex: Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status then place a checkmark beside the field marked tm: Test & Measures and select Search.

Search the PsycTests Database

PsycTests is a smaller database compared to PsycInfo as PsycTests is dedicated to only test information (mostly non-commercial tests) while PsycInfo is a more comprehensive database indexing psychological research of all kinds. 

PsycTests can be helpful in identifying potential tests and measures in a research area and to see if the full-text of a test is available.

To search by topic:

  1. The default is an Advanced search, where you can search by subject headings (similiar to PsycInfo).
  2. You can also change the search to Basic, and do a simple keyword search.
  3. Once you are done searching, review the references, and click on the test name to review the complete test record.
  4. To see if the actual test is available, look for the Ovid Database PDFs to the right of the test reference.

Summary Video