How can I find out if this is a “good” or “bad” test? Is the test well-designed?
In sources like MMY, reviewers often discuss the “validity” of tests. According to the Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, validity is “the extent to which any measuring instrument measures what it is intended to measure.” Validity is an important indication of whether a test will be useful. But, as the Sage Encyclopedia explains, validity not only depends on the instrument itself, but how you use the instrument. Even if a test is generally considered to be "valid," it might not be applicable to the particular group, behavior, or situation you are trying to study (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004, p. 1171).
If I find a copy of a test, can I just go ahead and use it?
No. For one thing, some tests can only be purchased, administered, or interpreted by a licensed or certified professional. Even if you are qualified to administer the test, there are a lot of other things you may need to do first. These include, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
Talking with your professor about whether the instrument is suitable for your project.
Getting Ethics approval for your project.
Getting the author’s/publisher’s permission to use the test.
Getting any training or certification that is required to administer the test properly.
Recruiting test subjects in a proper and ethical manner.
Finding an appropriate test environment.
Making arrangements for storing and analyzing your data.
Why do I have to pay for copies of tests?
A test’s design is a piece of intellectual property. It is protected by copyright laws that prohibit use without permission of the author. Some authors will allow you to use their test without payment. However, others require that fee(s) are submitted for use. Just finding a copy of the test is insufficient, you still need permission to use it (or as granted when you purchase it).
How do I get in contact with the author or publisher of a test?
If the test was printed in a journal article or book, consider many university professors have faculty web pages, and many consultants and employees are listed on corporate web pages, and have posted resumes and other contact information on the Internet. Look for the e-mail address or institutional affiliation of the author (often you can find it on the first or last page of a journal article, or on the jacket or back pages of a book). If you have the author’s name and his/her place of work, you can usually locate him/her by using a search engine like Google (http://www.google.com).
If the test is distributed by a publisher, it can be difficult to find the current publisher, especially for older tests. Smaller publishing companies are constantly being bought out by larger corporations. Here are some of the well-known publishers and their web sites: