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Social Work Validation Studies Guide

This guide was created support research for Psychopathology in Clinical Practice (SOW5125) and Evaluation of Practice (SOW5432). However, the content can be used by anyone with similar research questions about either diagnostic or psychometric validation

Key Resources

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Welcome to the Social Work Validation Studies Guide. Follow the detailed directions below to locate studies on reliability and validity. Explore the other pages in this guide for additional information on finding tests & measurements, related guides, as well as recordings of past library workshops for social work. If you are just getting started, or need a refresher, browse through the Getting Started at FSU Libraries page for direction on finding databases and peer-reviewed articles, evaluating sources, and more. As always, if you need more information or if you would like personalized research assistance. please contact your subject librarians Lindsey Wharton and Kirsten Kinsley.

Robert Manning Strozier Library


Finding Validation Studies

  • Instead of searching in a focused social work database, start by conducting your search in the general ProQuest database which searches through all 31 of their specialized databases and catches some of the articles that a subject-specific database may miss
  • Utilize a search string based on the inclusion and exclusion material of your search
    • If you are looking for sources that analyze the  validity and reliability of a measurement or scale, the following search string is a good start: (validation OR validity OR reliability) AND (scale OR inventory OR assessment OR measure ) AND {test name acronym OR test name full title} OR {DSM diagnosis AND synonyms} AND {additional keywords as needed}
    • If you are looking for sources that analyze the validity and reliability of a diagnosis, the following search string is a good start: ((validation OR validity OR reliability) AND (diagnosis) AND {DSM diagnosis and synonyms}) NOT (measure OR scale OR evaluation) AND {additional keywords as needed}
      • Using "NOT" will eliminate some of the results analyzing measures and scales
  • This search string in ProQuest will most likely produce a large number of results (see this list of over 15,000 results for reliability and validity of postpartum depression and anxiety). In order to narrow your results, utilize one or more of the following techniques:
    • Limit to full text only
    • Limit to peer-reviewed only 
    • Limit the search string to the abstract (modify the search using the link under the search bar or add "AB(...)" to your search
    • Using these three techniques, I narrowed down the results of the search above to under 10 results

ProQuest Advanced Search

Further Tips for Finding Validation Studies

  • Conduct your search in a couple different databases as they will all provide you differing results (I would also suggest Google Scholar but make sure your account is linked to your FSU Libraries account)
  • Use boolean searching techniques (AND, OR, NOT) to create search strings and utilize synonyms for different results (example: diagnosis OR identification OR diagnostic…)
  • Be mindful of the article date and the specifications provided be your instructor (some instructors may require articles published in the last 5 or 10 years)

Diagnostic Validity Books & Articles

Mad science  : psychiatric coercion, diagnosis, and drugs Chapter 4

Mad science  : psychiatric coercion, diagnosis, and drugs - Chapter 5

Kirk, S. A., Gomory, T., & Cohen, D. (2013). Mad science : psychiatric coercion, diagnosis, and drugs. Transaction Publishers. 

DSM-5 Field Trials in the United States and Canada, Part I: Study Design, Sampling Strategy, Implementation, and Analytic Approaches

Diana E. Clarke, William E. Narrow, Darrel A. Regier, S. Janet Kuramoto, David J. Kupfer, Emily A. Kuhl, Lisa Greiner, and Helena C. Kraemer. American Journal of Psychiatry 2013 170:1, 43-58

DSM-5 Field Trials in the United States and Canada, Part II: Test-Retest Reliability of Selected Categorical Diagnoses

Darrel A. Regier, William E. Narrow, Diana E. Clarke, Helena C. Kraemer, S. Janet Kuramoto, Emily A. Kuhl, and David J. Kupfer. American Journal of Psychiatry 2013 170:1, 59-70

DSM-5 Field Trials in the United States and Canada, Part III: Development and Reliability Testing of a Cross-Cutting Symptom Assessment for DSM-5

William E. Narrow, Diana E. Clarke, S. Janet Kuramoto, Helena C. Kraemer, David J. Kupfer, Lisa Greiner, and Darrel A. Regier. American Journal of Psychiatry 2013 170:1, 71-82


DSM-V Online

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders  : DSM-5. (2013). Arlington, VA : American Psychiatric Association, [2013].

Making the DSM-5: Concepts and controversies

Paris, J., & Phillips, J. (2013). Making the DSM-5  : concepts and controversies. New York, NY : Springer, c2013. Retrieved from

Three approaches to understanding and classifying mental disorder: ICD-11, DSM-5, and the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain

Clark, L. A., Cuthbert, B., Lewis-Fernández, R., Narrow, W. E., & Reed, G. M. (2017). Three Approaches to Understanding and Classifying Mental Disorder: ICD-11, DSM-5, and the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 18(2), 72–145.

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