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Tests and Measurements in the Behavioral and Social Sciences

Information about finding tests, scales, and other measurement instruments.

What You Need to Know

The use of test and assessment instruments is covered under the U.S. copyright law. Using an instrument improperly, and without permission, is a violation of copyright and the intellectual rights of the author or publisher. 

Fair Use

The Fair Use clause of the copyright law allows for limited use of copyrighted materials. In the case of instruments, it may be acceptable to make a copy of a test for personal use, to show in a class, in a PowerPoint, or for other classroom use. It may even be acceptable to use a question from a test (giving credit to the source and citing it appropriately). It is not acceptable to use a test in research that will be published or otherwise distributed unless permission has been obtained (this includes published graduate research projects - see below).

Who owns the copyright?

Tests are generally the property of the author(s) who devised them. If an author of a test publishes their article in a journal or book, they may transfer/sell their copyright to the publisher. Permission to use the test will have to be obtained from the publisher. In some cases, an author may transfer copyright for an article/book to the publisher, but retain copyright for the test. In that case, permission will be required from both the author and the journal or book publisher.

How to Obtain Permission

Obtaining permission to use a test, can be very difficult. Always ask for permission in writing, and keep a copy for your records. Be aware that many tests are not free, and require purchase. Tests published before 1925 and tests created by the U.S. federal government do not need permission.

For Graduate Research Project Authors:

If your graduate research project or thesis will be deposited in Sophia, St. Kate's institutional repository, you will need to include documentation of your use of third-party material. Documents that show that you have obtained permission can be put in an appendix or submitted as an additional file.


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