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Research Process

These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.

Tests and Measurements

If you are doing dissertation level research, you will also be collecting your own data using a test or measure designed to address the variables present in your research. Finding the right test or measure can sometimes be difficult. In some cases, tests are copyrighted and must be purchased from commercial publishers. In other cases instruments can be obtained for free directly from the authors or can be found within published articles (in the methods section or as an appendix). The Library can help you with obtaining publisher or author information along with test reviews, if they are available.

One important decision you will eventually face in the dissertation process is whether to use an existing instrument, to modify an instrument, or to create your own instrument from scratch. The latter two will require extensive testing and are not generally recommended. Whichever decision you make should be thought over carefully and discussed with your mentor or dissertation chair committee.

You will need to either purchase the test from a publisher or contact author(s) to obtain the test along with copyright permissions to use it in your research. When contacting an author for copyright permissions you will often send a permission letter. Examples of permission letters are included in the Permission Letters section below. 

For a video introduction, see the the Introduction to Tests and Measurements Workshop below.

Introduction to Tests & Measurements Workshop

This workshop provides an introduction to library resources which can be used to locate tests and measurements for dissertation research.

Roadrunner Search

The simplest way to discover instruments relevant to your dissertation research is to carefully read the methods sections in peer-reviewed journal articles. A dissertation will build on a field of study and you will be well served by understanding how the constructs you are interested in have been measured. For example, if you are interested in depression, as you read articles take note of which depression inventories are used and why.

Start by conducting a keyword search on your topic using Roadrunner Search, the central search box found on the Library's homepage. Roadrunner Search searches approximately 95% of our Library's database content, so it is a great starting point for any research topic. Use advanced search techniques covered in Searching 101 like subject searching, truncation, and Boolean operators to make your search more precise. You may also read about these search techniques by referring to the Preparing to Search section of our Research Process guide.

Limit your results to scholarly/peer-reviewed articles. Enter keywords from your topic on the top one or two lines and a string such as (test or survey or measurement or instrument or scale) on a separate line. Limit this line to the AB Abstract of the article, as shown in the example below.

Roadrunner Advanced Search showing an example search for test instruments.

Library Databases

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) is an online digital library of education research and information. ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education. ERIC provides ready access to education literature to support the use of educational research and information to improve practice in learning, teaching, educational decision-making, and research.

On the search results screen, select Tests/Questionnaires under Publication Type.

ERIC thesaurus entries list descriptors of tests and scales which may be used to construct a search. Select a broad category and continue narrowing down to your desired term. Click on “Search collection using this descriptor” to begin your search.

For additional information, see our ERIC Quick Tutorial Video.

The Test Collection at ETS is a database of more than 25,000 tests and other measurement devices most of which were created by authors outside ETS. It makes information on standardized tests and research instruments available to researchers, graduate students and teachers. With information about tests from the early 1900s to the present, the Test Collection at ETS is the largest compilation in the world. This database also contains 1200 tests that can be purchased for use in research.

For additional information, see our ETS TestLink Quick Tutorial Video.

The Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print database, from the Buros Institute, contains the most recent descriptive information and critical reviews of new and revised tests from the Buros Institute's Yearbooks. The database covers more than 4,000 commercially-available tests in categories such as personality, developmental, behavioral assessment, neuropsychological, achievement, intelligence and aptitude, educational, speech & hearing, and sensory motor.  

MMY with TiP offers test reviews that are written by experts and contain descriptions of tests and commentary on their psychometric adequacy (Cone & Foster, 2006, pg. 170). ETS does not include reviews but still offers information on a test’s purpose, individuals for whom it is appropriate, and administration times. Use MMY with TiP, and ETS, to 1) obtain contact information and 2) read descriptive information on the measure of interest. You will need to either purchase the test from a publisher or contact author(s) to obtain the test along with copyright permissions to use it in your research.

PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES allow you to limit search results to the type of methodology used in a study. You can limit to qualitative, quantitative, or select both for studies using mixed methods. Both these databases are excellent resources for finding information related to behavioral and health sciences.

Next, try searching for variables in your study or their synonyms as keywords to locate articles relevant to your research. You might also wish to limit your search to scholarly, peer-reviewed journals and type of study, i.e., quantitative, quantitative, or mixed methods similar to your own.

PsycTESTS is a repository for the full text of public domain psychological tests and measures, as well as a rich source of structured information about the test, including published articles and studies that have utilized the test.

Keep in mind that commercial tests will still need to be purchased from the publisher, this database only contains the full text of open access tests.

PubMed comprises more than 19 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

For additional information, see the PubMed Quick Tours Videos.

The ScienceDirect database comprises two collections of journals related to behavioral and health sciences, as well as other subject areas such as business and education. ScienceDirect’s multidisciplinary nature makes it a useful resource for researchers in any subject area.

For additional information, see our ScienceDirect Quick Tutorial Video.

Web of Knowledge provides access to current and retrospective bibliographic information, author abstracts, and cited references in social science journals that cover more than 50 disciplines. It is helpful in locating key publishers in a variety of fields.

For additional information, see the Web of Science Training Portal.

Search ProQuest Dissertations & Theses to discover graduate and doctoral-level research that has already been conducted on your research topic. A similar study may have employed a relevant test or measurement. Check dissertation abstracts to see if the author mentions administering or designing a measurement tool. If a measurement is mentioned, it is likely that a reprint of the measure will appear in the appendix of the dissertation. 

For additional information, see our ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Quick Tutorial Video.

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Internet Search

Lastly, you might try searching for a test or measurement or information about them on the Internet. Google is an excellent search engine for finding information on test instruments. To find information about a particular test or measurement on Google, type the name of the test or measurement into the empty search field and place it in quotes:

Google search screen with an example search for "beck depression inventory."

Selected Resources

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