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Health Sciences Tests & Measurements: Basics



Tests and measurements are tools used by a variety of researchers and/or practitioners to obtain evaluations of variables relevant to their area of study/practice.  Example variables could be levels of depression or anxiety or the level of physical functioning of a patient. Tests and measurements can vary greatly in their configuration, as they can be oral, written, or just observational in nature.

How to Find a Test

Step 1. The first thing you need to do is determine what your needs are. Are you looking for a specific test? Do you need a test that measures a certain variable? Are you looking for reviews of a specific test? Are you trying to develop your own test?

Step 2. Identify what you are trying to measure. How are you defining the variable? Be sure that you have a variable that can be measured. Make sure the variable is the right scope for what you are doing; not too broad or too narrow.

Step 3. Identify measurement tools that meet the needs you've previously determined in steps one and two with the resources mentioned in this guide. Make sure the test is measuring the variable you've determined. Do you have the ability and/or instructions to administer this test? Does the test target the population you are working with? Does the test have good reliability and validity? Have you found positive reviews of this test? Is the test possible to obtain easily and/or inexpensively?

Don't Forget...

It is sometimes difficult to obtain the print versions of certain testing instruments, even though some tests may be on the UW-Madison campus; for example, MERIT Library has some tests available to all users as well as a Restricted Test Collection available only to specific members of UW-Madison and require authorization to use.

To locate tests available on the UW campus, search the Library Catalog. If a test is not available through the UW campus libraries or other resources you've consulted, you may have to order a copy which could take a significant amount of time. Generally, it should be assumed that tests are NOT going to be freely available.

Sometimes tests are copyrighted. If this is the case, you will have to obtain permission from the author in writing for the use of their test before making copies for your own use.  You can find contact information for authors from journal articles and from directories maintained by professional organizations like the APA.  If this fails, it is sometimes possible to get permission from the publisher of the test.  It is important to try and gain permission before using copyrighted materials.


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