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Instruments - Twin Cities Library, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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Instruments, also called assessments or tests, are measurements in empirical studies. Examples include questionnaires, surveys, scales, and indexes.

Choosing Instruments  |  Finding Instruments  |  Open Access Instruments  |  Instrument Critiques  |  Evaluating Instruments  |  Institutional Review Board   |  Permissions  |  Designing Surveys

Choosing Instruments

You may be able to use an existing instrument. Your “choice” will be dictated by the test's:

  • availability
  • reliability and validity
  • usage permission (if required)
  • cost (if required)

Finding Instruments (ordered alphabetically)

Several databases have information about instruments and the instruments themselves. Look for limiters such as Assessments, Tests, Surveys, Indexes, or Questionnaires.


  1. Begin at the Advanced Search.
  2. Add a topic to the first search box.
  3. Under the Publication Type, choose Research Instrument.


ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) has tests and test reviews. To find actual tests:

  1. Begin at the Advanced Search
  2. Under the Publication Type, choose Tests/Questionnaires.  
  3. Add a topic to the first search box. In most cases, the results will have assessments in their appendices.


The Grid-Enabled Measures Database has instruments related to education, health, and work life. Most of the measures are open access.


PsycINFO has tests and test reviews. Search for copies of tests by entering the term appended in the Tests & Measures field. Add keywords in the next search box.



PsycTESTS contains actual tests and information about tests. Search by topic, institution, author or the name of the test. For more info, consult our PsycTESTS guide.

Test Link

Test Link from Educational Testing Services is a database of unpublished tests that have been submitted by researchers and educators. Most tests are available with a small fee.

Open Access Instruments (ordered alphabetically)

CDC: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

The ACEs tests was developed by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente for a study exploring the relationship between childhood experiences and health and wellbeing later in life.

Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)

DASS is a 42 item questionaire with scales for depression, anxiety, and stress.


The HABITS lab publishes instruments related to substance abuse. Most intruments are open access unless otherwise stated.

Finding Instrument Critiques

Instrument critiques often include validity and reliability testing.

Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print

Mental Measurements Yearbook provides online reviews on current assessment tests in education, therapy, and psychology. Tests in Print is an index to assessment tests with reviews.

Buros Institute of Mental Measurements Test Reviews Online

Buros Institute of Mental Measurements Test Reviews Online is a great source of reviews of psychological tests.

Evaluating Instruments


Web Center for Social Research Methods

The Web Center is a helpful learning tool for social science research methods.  

Books (ordered alphabetically by title)


Basic Psychological Measurement, Research Designs, and Statistics Without Math

Basic Psychological Measurement, Research Designs, and Statistics without Math
Published date: 2006

Designing and Constructing Instruments for Social Research and Evaluation

Designing and Constructing Instruments for Social Research and Evaluation 
Published: 2007

Handbook of Psychological Assessment

Handbook of Psychological Assessment
Published: 2016

How to Design and Evailuate Research in Education

How to Design and Evaluate Research in Education
Published: 2015

Social Science Research

Social Science Research: Principles, Methods and Practices
Published: 2012

Requesting IRB Approval

Prior to collecting data, research projects involving human subjects must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). IRB forms are available in BlackBoard.

CITI Program

All IRB applicants must complete training through CITI. You will need to attach a copy of your certification to your IRB application.

Requesting Permission

Requesting Permission from the Author

You may find an instrument in an article, thesis, or dissertation that was developed by the author but without open access permissions. In this case, you will need to contact the author directly for permission. Many authors will grant permission without a fee.

Consult this email template from Dissertation Recipes.

Commercial Tests

Commercial tests are available for purchase. They are most commonly used in institutional settings, such as clinics and schools. These tests are typically published by testing companies such as Pearson, Psychological Assessment Resources, or GL Assessment. The publisher’s website will have information about permissions and purchase. These tests tend to be heavily vetted (professionally reviewed).

Open Access Tests

Open access tests are openly available for use, although they may have limitations to their use. These tests should clearly state that they are open access or creative commons. See our list of websites with open access tests. PsycTESTS also has tests that are available without permission.  

Designing Surveys

Survey Tools

Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey has a free plan and a more robust plan with a discounted rate for students and educators.

Google Forms

Google Forms is free. Choose a template or design a survey.

Survey Design Tips

Survey Monkey: Surveys 101
Science Buddies: Designing a Survey


Survey Basics book cover

Survey Basics
Published: 2013

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