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Research Instruments (Tests & Measures)

Locating Instruments

Research instruments fall into two categories:

  1. published
  2. unpublished

Published instruments include well-known tests and measures and their reliability and validity are usually well established.  They may be available

  • for purchase from the publisher OR
  • for free because they are in the public domain.

The following government databases contain information about both published and unpublished instruments.

Obtaining Published Instruments

Published instruments can be purchased from the publisher.  Access is typically restricted to individuals qualified to use or administer the test.  See publishers websites for more information.

Listed below are two well-known test publishers, but there are many more.

Obtaining Unpublished Instruments

Where can you find information about unpublished research instruments?

  • Research articles from databases such as CINAHL, PscyInfo, MedLine, ERIC.
  • Dissertations.  Dissertations sometimes include a copy of the research instrument in the appendices.  See Research Guide below to access and search for dissertations.

It can be challenging to find a copy of an unpublished instrument.  Sometimes you can obtain a copy by contacting the author of the test or measure.  When searching databases you may occasionally find the full text of a research instrument in the appendices of an article, but typically you will only find mention of the measurement tool in the methods section. 

Free surveys, tools, measurements, instruments

This is a small sampling of links to measurement tools that are available online.

American Psychological Association: FAQ: Finding Information About Psychological Tests


  • In order to use research instruments in your research, whether they be commercially published or unpublished instruments, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holder.
  • When you purchase a test from a commercial publisher, your purchase provides permission to use/administer the test.  (You must qualify to purchase the test as well.)
  • For unpublished tests, you must request permission from the copyright holder, which is usually the author.  You can sometimes find contact information, such as the name and/or organizational affiliation for the author, in the reference sections of articles.