Scale developers often provide evidence of content validity by computing a content validity index (CVI), using ratings of item relevance by content experts. We analyzed how nurse researchers have defined and calculated the CVI, and found considerable consistency for item-level CVIs (I-CVIs). However, there are two alternative, but unacknowledged, methods of computing the scale-level index (S-CVI). One method requires universal agreement among experts, but a less conservative method averages the item-level CVIs. Using backward inference with a purposive sample of scale development studies, we found that both methods are being used by nurse researchers, although it was not always possible to infer the calculation method. The two approaches can lead to different values, making it risky to draw conclusions about content validity. Scale developers should indicate which method was used to provide readers with interpretable content validity information. (c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.