When preparing a research proposal, you must identify the instrument(s) you would use to collect data. Students often select instruments (e.g., questionnaires, scales, surveys, tests) that have been developed by others. Since authors put a lot of time and effort into constructing instruments, they generally will NOT make them available for free. This is why it is often difficult to find the full text of an instrument for free.
Don't get too frustrated! Below are strategies and resources to help you find information about an instrument and/or the full text of an instrument. Just give yourself plenty of time to track down the full text!
- Use Google or another search engine to locate websites containing information about a specific instrument. The publisher website, for example, will contain useful information. You may get lucky and even find the full text of an instrument on the Internet for free!
- Use the Research Databases to find journal articles about a specific instrument. The articles may review an instrument or report on research conducted using a specific instrument. Start with these databases: Education Research Complete, ERIC, Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection, PsycINFO, and Academic Search Complete.
- As you read the research articles you locate in your literature review, identify the titles of the instruments that the authors used to collect data so you know specific ones to search for (e.g., Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire). If you do not know the names of specific instruments, then you can search for instruments by keywords (e.g., bullying AND questionnaire; dropouts AND scale). Sometimes authors will include the full instrument in the Appendix of the article, so be sure to check! Also, review the references at the end of your articles for specific sources that may contain the full text of an instrument or information about an instrument.
- CSU's Community Learning Center for Children and Youth in Julka Hall has some assessments (instruments) available covering "achievement, literacy, language, special education, behavior, early childhood, and math." Depending on your research questions, you may be able to find instruments there.
- Search in the SCHOLAR Online Catalog and/or in the OhioLINK Library Catalog for books that may contain instruments or descriptions of instruments. Search by KEYWORD on the name of the instrument (e.g., Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire) or on the topic (e.g., bullying AND questionnaire; dropouts AND scale). See the box below for links to helpful books available via the Michael Schwartz Library.
- Search the OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center, which contains the full text of doctoral dissertations and master’s theses by Ohio students. Students often obtain permission from authors to reproduce the full text of instruments in the Appendices of dissertations and theses, so you may find what you need here.
- Use the research database named ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A & I to search for doctoral dissertations and master's theses from North America and Europe. The Appendices of dissertations and theses often include the full text of instruments used by researchers. Many of the items in ProQuest include a free, 26-page preview. Others may be available full text for free. Many are available for purchase directly from ProQuest as a PDF download. You can request a PAPER copy of a specific dissertation or thesis using Interlibrary Loan Services.
- Search in the Tests and Mental Measurements Collections described in the box below.
- These collections will provide information ABOUT an instrument, but they will NOT give you the full text of the instrument for free. They will give you a citation to an article or source that used the instrument, and then you will have to track down the article or source using its citation and check if the full instrument is available there.
- Search on the title of a specific instrument or by topic. Since these collections contain descriptions of various instruments (e.g., questionnaires, scales, surveys, tests), you do not have to include these words in your search -- it would be redundant and you would miss many instruments in your search results. For example, just search on "bullying" rather than "bullying AND questionnaire." This way, you will retrieve descriptions of all instruments pertaining to bullying included in the collections, not just the "questionnaires" that measure bullying. However, if you are looking for a specific type of instrument, then certainly search for it by keyword.
- Contact the author and ask if he would be willing to provide you with a copy of the instrument for free.