Besides violating copyright law, altered versions of the rating forms are apt to produce invalid data, because they would differ from the forms with which the normative, validity, reliability, and multicultural data were obtained. Data obtained with altered forms would also lack comparability with the many studies that have used the standard forms.
Although we are occasionally asked for permission to reprint or alter our forms, we have learned that the disadvantages usually outweigh the advantages for all concerned. Even when the alterations involve only changes of typestyle or format, these may have unanticipated effects on the respondents. Furthermore, changes that are inadvertent or seem insignificant can have unfortunate effects. As an example, in the Ontario Child Health Study of several thousand children, the definition of the 0 score for CBCL problem items was changed from Not true to Never or not true. This slight change was not noticed by the researchers until after the data had been collected and analyzed, yielding considerably higher problem scores for children in Ontario than in the U.S. When the change in wording was noticed, an experimental comparison was made between responses by Ontario parents receiving the original CBCL wording versus parents receiving the altered wording that included the word never. This comparison showed that inclusion of the word never produced significantly fewer scores of 0 and significantly higher scores overall (Woodward et al., 1989, J. Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 30, 919-924).
Another problem with copied or altered forms is that others may use or copy them without realizing that they are not the standard forms and that they are violating copyright law, as well as obtaining invalid data.
Data obtained with subsets of ASEBA items would not be comparable to the normative, reliability, validity, and multicultural data obtained with the standard set of items. The results obtained with subsets of items would also differ from the results obtained with the standard sets of items that have been used in thousands of studies.
- We would consider requests to omit up to about 8 problem items for special reasons, e.g., omission of alcohol and sex-related items for Muslim respondents.
- We would consider requests to omit open-ended responses to items that specify “describe” (e.g., items 2, 9, 29) and to omit CBCL and TRF items 113 that request the respondent to write in additional problems.
- We would consider requests to use subsets of competence and adaptive functioning items, as well as to administer only the problem items or only the competence or adaptive functioning items.
- We would consider requests to omit the demographic items at the beginning of each form, although age and gender are needed to score scales in relation to age/gender norms.