I am a fourth year doctoral candidate in Experimental Psychology who recently finished data collection for my dissertation. I recently discovered something that may be a potential issue, but I am not sure if me or the university will be liable.

In my scenario, I am using the word reading measure of the Wide Range Achievement Test 5th Edition (WRAT-5 for short) published by Pearson. Under my previous training for my qualifier project under my first advisor, I was told that I could readily reproduce copies of the list of words on the WRAT-4 (was not 5 at the time) as I ran each participant. I eventually learned after contacting Pearson customer support that this was not allowed at all. Regardless, I presented a poster on my qualifier project at a well known psychology conference in my particular region (I had no chance of getting a publication unless I did a second study per what my advisor told me).

For my dissertation, I had course corrected and ordered 25 sheets for the WRAT-5 so I could run each participant using them. However, after I ran out, I used adaptations of the WRAT-5 word list I had already printed (prior to my conversation with Pearson) until I could order new copies. Unfortunately, I never got around to ordering more copies before I finished data collection with what I had (I got 49 participants total). This is a potential problem as I recently finished data collection for my dissertation using those copies of the word list that I know were unauthorized based on a policy from Pearson that explicitly stated reproduction of the test is not allowed when test materials were purchased under the Research Assistance Program (RAP). However, since it is not a direct scan or copy of the material itself, would it technically be a violation?

Regardless, my primary concern is if what will happen to the data I have already collected in this case. Could it be thrown out potentially? Even if I order new forms? I remember a clinical faculty warning me about the pictures of the WRAT-5 I had shown during my dissertation defense and I am extremely worried now.

If this question seems like its too individualized, mods are more than free to edit this post or take it down. I tried to make sure it is something useful this time as I imagine I am not the first one to make such a mistake.

1 Answer 1


In general that I think "reproduction" normally includes direct adaptation even if it isn't literally a photocopy or picture of the form. And publishing research using unlicensed versions of tests have led to retractions in the past. So yes, your data could be tossed.

I would bet that since they sell the test per-unit and explicitly prohibit reproduction, you don't have much of a leg to stand on. I don't know how strict Pearson is with this, but since their RAP asks for a copy of the study, it could be easy for someone to notice the discrepancy in your study n and the number of tests purchased. Whether they care or not, I can't say.

In terms of retroactively ordering new forms to cover yourself, I don't know. My gut reaction is that it is still a problem. You violated the terms of the RAP. But (I don't know if I'll get pushback on this) the reality is that, if you purchase the correct number of forms, this is probably a case of no harm, no foul.

At this point I would buy the correct number of forms and leave it at that. It isn't worth the worry. Don't go around announcing that you reproduced the test in a way you weren't supposed to though. From this point forward, everything is above board.

I will say, it isn't clear to me how this test was implemented. You mention an "adaptation". Is this something you need to detail in the methods? If so, it will be clear that you reproduced the test in a way that is not allowed. This would be a case where you should consult an advisor who know the project intimately and has some experience using licensed material.

  • Going to answer in reverse order. When I say "adaptation," I just mean that the participant has the list of words itself that were on the scoring sheet in this case and they had to read aloud. Participants never had the actual word list (although a scan someone posted online shows what the actual word list looks like if you Google it) from the testing kit itself since my grant couldn't afford the full kit. As for announcing it, I didn't do that but I did send an I inquiry to the permissions team mentioning that I used one copy of a form at one point to score multiple folks and if that's ok.
    – zzmondo1
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 15:10
  • I also ran out of space but my primary purpose for sending that inquiry was to ask them if could back up my WRAT-5 data digitally. After I reviewed my old responses, the representative who emailed me explicitly stated that I would've had to ask to digitally back up my data at a different point.
    – zzmondo1
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 16:00
  • Ah, I would talk to your advisor about all this and see what they think.
    – sErISaNo
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 22:17
  • @sErlSaNo They said that, since I am not using it to clinically assess participants, it is completely ok. However, I think my advisor might be oblivious to my agreement.
    – zzmondo1
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 22:19
  • So it sounds like they are okay with you using the test in this way? What is the issue?
    – sErISaNo
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 22:21

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