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Finding Test Instruments: Get Started

A guide on finding surveys, questionnaires, and research instruments.

In this Guide

What is in this guide?

  • Help on finding or discovering specific tests
  • Tips on how to search for test information within several different databases
  • Links to books in LHL's collection
  • Brief explanations of copyright laws, and tips on contacting publishers and authors for permission to use a test
  • Link to UAB's Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Good luck on your project!     

Two Paths: When You Know the Test & When You Do Not Know the Test

When you know the test: Search a database by the title of the testing tool.  Any of the databases listed in this guide can be searched by test title.   You can narrow your results by adding subject keywords related to your area of study. 

When you do not know the test: Start with Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print.  MMY/TiP will provide a list of test titles, and accompanying reviews.  Once you have a test title in mind, it will be easier to search other databases. 

As always, if you can't find what you're looking for, please contact us via chat (to the right) or by phone (205-934-2230)! 

What You Can Expect When you Search for Testing Tools

NOTE: Test Instruments are also called: Research Instruments, Scales, Indexes, Questionnaires, Testing Tools, Research Measures, Measurements.    

Finding Tests

  • If you are a student working on an assignment that asks you to evaluate the usefulness of a test, you will have to read--and analyze--several articles in order to come to a conclusion about the test.  It is unlikely that you will find an article that blatantly states "The ___ test is the best test instrument to measure ___ ."  Click here for more info. on dealing with analysis.   
  • Sometimes finding tests can be frustrating. 
  • Some testing tools will be included in the appendix of a article.  If they do not include the actual test, you can find the original publication of the test listed on the References page.  
  • You may need to consult several sources before you find the test you need. 
  • You may find reviews and descriptions of the testing instruments, such as the authors' names and publisher information, but not the actual test.  The Information found in reviews and descriptions will help locate the actual test.

Copyright, Fees & Using a Test

  • Finding a test does not always mean that you can use the test for free.  Always check with the publisher or author.
  • You may have to purchase the test directly through the copyright holder/publisher.
  • You may find an earlier version of the testing instrument in an article that you can photocopy, but the one in current use may need to be purchased from the copyright holder/publisher. 
  • See more on Copyright & contacting publishers at the end of the guide, under More Info.

If You are Working on an Assignment for Class

Often, your assignments or research papers will ask you to provide information on the test's reliability and validity.  Students will not find an article that exclaims the "goodness" or "badness" of a survey.  What students will find are:

  • statements (sometimes in the abstract or conclusion) that  that discuss how the test enabled the researchers to gather information and use that information in order to further their investigation, or the researchers may
  • comparisons to similar tests and discussions on how a test appears to lead to better or more specific data
  • discussions related to how the researchers use the data collected by the research instrument   

When assignments call for students to think critically about a test (perhaps detail the pros & cons, or justify the use, or find the most appropriate or respected testing tool), it is important for students to understand that they will have to read a lot of abstracts and employ critical reasoning skills in order to build their case for or against any given instrument.  Students should think of their evaluation in terms of whether the tool was successful in gathering the needed data; ask yourself if the researchers were able to propose solutions to their problem with the evidence collected using the test.   

Here is some advice when working on assignments:

  • Give yourself enough time to search several databases, read through abstracts, ask a librarian for help, ask your professor questions.
  • Your text book, assigned readings, class notes, class discussions, and previous assignments are the best tools to help you make the best educated choices for your work.  Rely on them to help you think through the analysis process.
  • If you are unsure about the assignment, ask your professor to clarify.  Email is a great way to communicate with professors, or speak to them before or after class.  In your questions, briefly state what you do understand and what you need clarified.  
  • Even if you are unsure of your argument, have explainable reasons as to why you made your claim.  This way, if your professor asks you to explain, you will have an answer.    


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