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Finding Research Instruments

Finding Research Instruments

Introduction to finding instruments

Locating research instruments can be very challenging. Instruments can be tools for either qualitative or quantitative research. Some examples are surveys, questionnaires, tests, and rating scales, but there are many varieties.

When looking for these tools, you're generally trying to find either:

  • A specific instrument based on its name
  • An instrument on a particular topic

Where to look for instruments

This guide recommends some search tools and techniques to find what you need. You may need to check in several places for an instrument that meets your needs.

Obtaining and Using Instruments

Obtaining instruments

Searching for instruments often means finding:

  • Information about the instrument
  • Sample items from the instrument
  • Evaluations of the instrument
  • Studies which used the instrument
Even if you obtain the source (such as an article) in which an instrument is introduced, described, validated, utilized or otherwise mentioned, it may not include the full instrument. Frequently finding the entire instrument requires further steps.

Published vs. unpublished instruments

  • Published instruments are generally produced by a company and can therefore be purchased, but may be quite expensive.
  • Unpublished instruments may be found in books, articles, dissertations, or could be available directly from the test developer.

Using instruments

  • Generally the tools you find are under copyright to a company or individual. You must get permission from the copyright holder in order to use the instrument.
  • For unpublished instruments, a helpful strategy is to email the author or authors both to obtain the instrument and to get permision to use it.