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Research Tools & Instruments Guide

Choosing a validated instrument for your capstone or final project
A basic process for choosing an instrument that meets the criteria for validation:
  1. conduct research to find candidate instruments that may be suitable to measure  your topic variables
  2. locate instrument reviews of the candidates to narrow the suitability for your purposes e.g. if it is replicable in another study, is it in print, does it meet university standards for validation etc
  3. find a research study article  in the library that validates the chosen instrument 
  4. locate the owner and obtain permission to use the instrument in your work

1. Finding an instrument to measure a variable eg. depression

  • start with the ETS Test Link (search by descriptor) 
  • Search in the Library in: CINAHL, Nursing Reference Center, ProQuest Central, Proquest Dissertations
  • Search online in indexes such as:  ERIC, PubMed
TIPS for finding instruments
  • scanning references from dissertations (in the library and online), journal articles (in the library) or book chapters about cited tests (your textbook?)
  • the information may include: a description, a critique, an explanation of use, or the full-text of the test
  • each library database and online resource varies as to what is included in each reference entry.

2. Locating Instrument Reviews to narrow the list of possibilities

  • for standardized reviews, search in BUROS Center for Testing for basic information on the instrument and the owner
  • if none is available check for reviews or information on the validity and reliability in the research literature
    • Search in the library in: CINAHL, ProQuest Central, NRC, PQDT
    • Search online in: ERIC, PubMed

Adapted from Health Sciences Library: University of Washington. LibGuide: Measurement Tools

TIPS for finding reviews:

  • scanning references from dissertations (in the library and online), journal articles (in the library) or book chapters about cited tests (your textbook?)
  • the information may include: a description, a critique, an explanation of use, or the full-text of the test
  • each library database and online resource varies as to what is included in each reference entry.

3. Determining the Validity of Your Instrument

The requirement to use a validated instrument to measure your research outcomes can be met by locating scholarly research articles that use your instrument.
  • Search your instrument in the library collections, limiting to peer-review, scholarly research articles and preview the articles by clicking into the title to view the data describing the research methods.
  • Be sure to confirm with your advisor/instructor that your chosen tool and validation meets the criteria for your project.
  • Check with your advisor to confirm that your resources are adequate for validation.

4. Obtaining Permission to Use an Instrument: The American Sentinel Library does not house test instruments nor grant permission for use in projects. 

  • most instruments are commercially owned and available through test publishers 
  • all measurement tools require permission to use  
  • there are some exceptions, such as tools through RAND Healthcare (see list below)
  • for commercial tests, allow time for order and delivery.
  • out of print tests may belong to the original author, contact them or researchers who validated the instrument for information

Adapted from Health Sciences Library: University of Washington. LibGuide: Measurement Tools/Research Instruments. Accessed August 16, 2019

Locate the the Owner contact information

  • look in the text of an article that validated the instrument for researcher contact or instrument information
  • look for author/owner information in one of the online repositories listed below
  • contact the copyright holder for permission
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