Ereviews: PsycTESTS | February 1, 2012

American Psychological Association; psycnet.apa.org; for a free trial, go to www.apa.org/pubs/lj

CONTENT The American Psychological Association (APA) describes PsycTESTS as encompassing neuropsychological tests, personality assessments, skills and proficiency tests, and IQ and aptitude scales and measurements. It mainly offers full-text instruments within the database‚ there are around 1500 of those‚ but also includes links to commercially available material, bringing the total number of tests available to about 2200. The entries are as varied as ‚Äò1990′ Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale (RWA Scale), National Women’s Study PTSD Module (NWS-PTSD), and Waterloo-Stanford Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility‚ Form C (WSGC).

One of the file’s strengths is that each test record includes citation information and links to the original reporting article or book (though these are usually available elsewhere), as well as subsequent efforts to use or review the test. The database’s help pages indicate that this is not an exhaustive list of uses; instead, it typically mentions milestones or important usages. For example, according to Google Scholar, the Multigroup Ethnic Identify Measure has been cited 1,795 times since it was published in 1992, but PsycTESTS lists only one review.

USABILITY PsycTESTS is currently available via the APA PsycNET and Ovid platforms, and the organization plans to make it available on other platforms, including EBSCO, in the future.

This review examined the PsycNET version of PsycTESTS. The material can be searched (via basic and advanced interfaces) or browsed directly. Basic search presents a Google-like single query box. In the platform reviewed, users are directed immediately to the advanced search that offers a wide variety of helpful limiters such as age group, population group, whether a fee is required to use the test, and the test administration method (paper, etc.).

Unfortunately, these limiters are somewhat hidden in a drop-down menu in the Only show content where section of the search page. Users can also easily limit by time frame and set display options (number of results per page and sorting) on the search screen.

Capitalization matters for Boolean operators entered in the same search space, although the help screens don’t indicate this. A search for value* or belief, for example, returned 13 results, while a search for value* OR belief resulted in 691 hits. Users can avoid this by using multiple search boxes.

Patrons can browse tests by author, test name or acronym, or year. It is also possible to browse by psychological construct (abortion attitudes, magical thinking, task-oriented coping), but this functionality is limited by the small size of the database‚ most construct terms have only one associated test, and it would be much more useful if the tests were grouped into larger, hierarchical categories. Also, the psychological construct terms do not make use of the psychology index terms linked to at the top of the search screen.

As a separate record summarizes information about each test rather than detailing the article or other original source that it comes from, entries offer more detail about the instrument than users will find in a related article abstract. Robust metadata for each record includes which psychological construct a test examines (such as personality, depression, social skills, etc.) and the age and population group (male, female, outpatient, inpatient, etc.) the item is geared toward. Subsequent summaries provide information about how the test is delivered and scored, how reliable the results of the test are, and when it might be useful.

When appropriate, the summaries make comparisons with similar tests. Each record has its own DOI (Digital Object Identifier, a permanent link), but there is an error in resolving some of these. DOIs are also supplied for articles and article abstracts, and the existence of multiple identifiers (for the test itself, the article, and an abstract in PsycNET) can be confusing.

Many of the records provide a PDF of the instrument. For items examined for this review, this was a reformatting of information that appeared in the original source. The PDF includes the test items and grading information (correct answers, or Likert scales). The PDF contains a suggested citation for the test but not for the article or book in which it was originally described (although the latter is available on the main index page for the item).

Entries describing commercially available resources include metadata and a link to a website for purchase. Few tests furnish additional supporting information such as checklists and instructors’ guides, though it is possible to limit searches to items that have these bonus features.

PRICING APA provides public pricing information for academic, public, school, and special libraries, and other organizations including corporations and government bodies. For academic institutions granting bachelor’s degrees or above, fees are based on FTE and range from $2000 for institutions of fewer than 2500 FTE to more than $6500 for institutions of more than 60,000 FTE. Annual subscriptions for public libraries start at $900. Corporate and governmental subscriptions are based on the number of potential users rather than the total number of employees.

VERDICT PsycTESTS is a small but focused database that fills a specific information need. Since the database has a few usability issues and because most content is generally indexed in PsycINFO and other online collections to which institutions interested in PsycTESTS likely already subscribe, this database is only recommended for those organizations that are frequently looking for this kind of material and will benefit from having it aggregated.

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Bonnie Swoger About Bonnie Swoger

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, undergraduatesciencelibrarian.org. Readers can contact her at swoger@geneseo.edu.

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