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Nursing Guide

What are research instruments?

Research involves "identifying a problem area, establishing a plan, collecting data, and evaluating the data" (Nieswiaadomy, 2008, p. 6) and research instruments are simply "the devices used to collect data" (Nieswiadomy, 2008, p. 215). Research instruments include those that measure body processes or reactions such as blood pressure or brain activity but they also includes things such as observation or interview guides, rating scales, questionnaires, and psychological tests. Researchers may create their own instruments but finding appropriate instruments created and tested by others can save time. This subject guide is intended to help find:

  1. research instruments by subject or outcome of interest
  2. full text of a specific instrument
  3. information about the reliability and/or validity of a specific instrument

Nieswiadomy, R. M. (2008). Measurement and collection of data.In Foundations of nursing research (5th ed., pp. 210-230). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

It is important to realize that research instruments are copyrighted. Even if an instrument is available full text in a published source, you must obtain permission from the author to use the instrument in a research project unless the source states that the instrument is free for use by researchers. Sometimes a researcher must pay to obtain copies of an instrument for a research project. Mind Garden is an example of a site that sells research instruments to researchers.

Finding Reliability & Validity Information

If you need information about the reliability and/or validity of a research instrument try searching a library database, Google Scholar, or Google,  with the following search:

Instrument name AND (reliability OR validity)

for example:

Mini mental state examination AND (reliability OR validity)

Internet Resources

Some instruments can be found using search engines such as Google, Google Scholar, or Yahoo. Try searching for your condition or topic AND research instrument, for example:

Depression AND research instrument

You can also try synonyms for research instrument such as questionnaire or scale or measurement.

Library Databases and Resources

Dissertations & Theses

Some research instruments may be found only in a dissertation or thesis. Below are 3 sources for searching dissertations and theses. Dissertations & Theses A&I is provided by the WilmU Library which requires use of your myWilmU credentials. The others are freely available Internet resources. A good search to start with is your condition or topic AND research instrument but you may need to expand your search with synonyms or subject headings.