Tests and Measures : Tests and Copyright
Students and even researchers often forget that tests and measurements are subject to the same rules of copyright as a book, article, etc. That makes us very serious about the importance of copyright. None of us want to see your research to fall by the wayside because you "borrowed" questions from a measure but didn't have permission to do so.
- Tests or measures that you find are, for the most part, copyrighted and cannot be copied unless permission is granted.
Not all tests will be readily available, either for free or for purchase. Some tests are available ONLY to psychologists and psychiatrists.
The ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political Science Research) is quite succinct in their FAQ on using questions found in their collection:
"A data collection instrument is included in the documentation for a study. Can I use the data collection instrument (or a question from it) for my project?
Not without further research on your part. The question may be part of a copyrighted instrument. Using it in that case would be copyright infringement and/or plagiarism."
And from the American Psychological Association’s website: Responsibilities of Test Users
Users of unpublished tests have certain ethical responsibilities. Users must (a) contact the test author and request permission to use their test, and (b) secure their permission in writing if the material is copyrighted. Locating the author may be a difficult process, particularly if the measure is several years old, but try the following steps:
- Journal articles list the author’s organizational affiliation (or university) with a mailing address on the first page of the article. If the publication is fairly recent, this method is almost always successful.
- If this fails, directories published by scientific and professional associations like APA could provide you with a more current address and phone number for the author. This is useful if the article is several years old and the author has moved since the article was published.
- If these attempts to locate the author fail, contact the publisher holding the copyright to the original material and request permission from the publisher. Remember that APA holds the copyright to all material published in APA journals.
No matter how difficult this process may seem, you should make every effort to contact an author or copyright holder to secure permission before using any test or other instrument.
Remember: Failure to seek permission to use a test for your thesis, dissertation, or other research could result in a charge of academic or research misconduct.