Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter



PsycTESTs: A New Database

Recently the Boston College Libraries subscribed to the new American Psychological Association database PsycTESTs. The Library staff anticipates that this new tool will make the research lives of psychology and social work students much easier. Why? The process of finding a full-text copy of a psychological test has generally been a time-consuming and often counter-intuitive process for students, faculty researchers, and librarians.

Many tests are only available commercially. Commercial tests, distributed and sold by psychological or educational companies, are very rarely freely available and are invariably costly to purchase. In many cases, the company will not sell the test to a user unless he or she is already a licensed counselor or social worker. This is obviously not helpful for a graduate student who is studying counseling psychology or social work and needs a test to complete an assignment.

Non-commercial or “unpublished tests” can also be difficult to locate. Unpublished tests have been developed by researchers and have been discussed in the journal literature. Because unpublished tests do not have to be purchased, it would be easy to assume that these are easier to obtain than expensive commercial tests. Sometimes this is the case. There are many books in both the Social Work Library and the O’Neill Library that contain copies of various unpublished tests. It may also be possible to find the full-text of a test within a journal article. However, there is no systematic method for finding a specific test within these books, articles or dissertations. Consequently, students often spend hours, not always successfully, searching through the literature for the tests they need.

The BC librarians hope that the acquisition of PsycTESTs will save students precious time. The database specifically profiles unpublished tests, and many of these profiles include pdf copies of the instruments they describe. Students can search the database for tests by specific name or subject area. Each test profile contains information about the test’s validity and reliability, and there are links to articles that describe the development of the test. There is also copyright information available for each test, and in the past, this has been difficult information to find.

We anticipate that PsycTESTs will become an even more useful tool over time. The American Psychological Association is still collecting copies of instruments from researchers, so the number of available tests in PsycTESTs will continue to grow. The search interface for PsycTESTs is still somewhat basic, but we believe that it will become more sophisticated as APA continues to develop the database. In the meantime, thanks to PsycTESTs, finding psychological tests has never been easier.

Kate Silfen
Subject Specialist for Social Work & Psychology