Finding Measurement Tools

This tutorial was originally created by the University of Washington's HealthLinks project. It has been abridged by librarians at Downstate Medical Center to reflect our specific resources.


What are Measurement Tools?

Measurement tools are instruments used by researchers and practitioners to aid in evaluating different variables in their patients/clients/subjects. The variables can range from physical functioning to psychosocial well being. The instruments also vary in format. They can take the form of a formal questionnaire or an informal observation.

Steps to Finding Tests

  1. Determine your needs:
    • Do you want to find out what tests measure a particular variable or address a specific topic?
    • Do you want a specific test or test manual?
    • Do you need to know how to use a test?
    • Do you want information about where a test can be borrowed or purchased?
    • Do you want a review of a particular test?
    • Do you want to develop your own test?
  2. Identify the variable you want to measure:
    • What terms define the variable?
    • Is it too broad or too narrow?
    • Is it measurable?
  3. Identify some tests that may meet your needs using the following criteria:
    • Does the test measure the variable you want to assess?
    • Are you qualified to administer this test?
    • What age group or school grade level is targeted by the test?
    • Does it have favorable reviews? How many? Where?
    • Are there instructions available for how to administer the test?
    • How difficult is it to obtain a copy of it? How expensive is it?

Electronic Access

Some instruments may be cited in journal articles that are indexed in databases or other electronic sources. The instruments included in journal articles may or may not be published in standard printed resources.


Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL)

  • The CINAHL database can be searched for information about instruments using two fields: "Instrumentation" and "Document Type."
  • Any article reporting a research study that used a particular instrument has the name of the instrument recorded in the Instrumentation field. Use the name of the instrument plus the two-letter abbreviation IN to search for studies that used a particular instrument.
  • CINAHL staff have created expanded records for approximately ninety instruments that are commonly used in nursing research studies. These expanded records include information such as original population, question format, administration, psychometrics, and information on how to obtain copies. Some of these also include the full-text of the instrument. To view the full text of the instrument, if available, click on the full text button.
  • Example: rosenberg self esteem and questionnaire/scale in publication type Search Sample
  • It is possible to limit to fulltext articles in CINAHL. Otherwise articles can be obtained through Interlibrary Loan.

PubMed and other databases.

Keywords to keep in mind when searching databases or other electronic sources for the concept of tests and measurements include: assessment(s); evaluation(s); instrument(s); measure(s); measurement(s); questionnaire(s); scales(s); survey(s); test(s); tests and measures; psychometrics outcome. Databases may be searched using a variety of these keywords and important words from the title of a particular instrument. Example: pain AND questionnaires

Web Resources

  • American Psychological Association's FAQ/Finding Information About Psychological Tests: - Nicely organized site containing helpful information about both print and electronic resources for published and unpublished psychological tests and measures. Includes how to find a particular test.
  • Buros Institute of Mental Measurements: - From the publisher of Mental Measurements Yearbook and Tests In Print. Contains links to a helpful test locator, test review locator, ERIC's Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, and other related information. Can also be searched by subject to get a listing of tests used for particular types of information.
  • Test Locator: a database of descriptions and availability information for over 10,000 tests and research instruments. It does not include reviews or reliability and validity information.
  • Test Review Locator: allows you to search for citations to reviews of educational and psychological tests and measures that The Buros Institute of Mental Measurements and ProEd (book publisher) have included in their directories.
  • Buros/ERIC Test Publisher Directory: allows you to search for the names and addresses of over 900 major commercial test publishers
  • Google: - Search engines such as Google or Alta Vista may be useful in finding a particular test.

Print Resources for Tests and Test Information

Use the following resources to assist you in finding individual tests, test reviews, and other test information:

General Reference Books

  • The Mental Measurements Yearbook.
    Call Number: Ref ZLB 1131 B967

The Mental Measurements Yearbooks (MMY) is the pre-eminent resource for reviews -- including reliability information -- of tests and measures (achievement, behavior assessment, education, intelligence, personality, vocational, neuropsychological, and others). These yearbooks represent a comprehensive collection of test review information covering English - language tests.

Each MMY does NOT supersede the previous volumes; each edition supplements information from earlier editions and later volumes cross reference to earlier edition entries. Therefore, it is necessary to consult all editions for complete coverage.

  • Tests In Print.
    Call Number: Ref Z 5814 E9 T345
    Vol 1 - 8 (1994-1999, 2002, 2006, 2011)

This resource is the companion to the Mental Measurements Yearbook. All editions have basically the same format and test entry information. The entry for a test indicates which Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY) presents the most recent listing of a test. Tests in Print (TIP) includes information regarding the following: the test print status; number of reviews it received; names of reviewers; number of references on the construction, use, and validity of the test; and number of excerpts reprinted from test reviews in journals. Test entries will often refer you to additional information or reviews appearing in the MMY's.

TIP editions are divided into various sections. These include: MMY test reviewers (and the MMY edition in which reviews appear); test entry information; a publishers directory and index; an index of titles; an index of names (authors of all tests, reviews, excerpts, and references); and a scanning index/classified subject index.

  • Frank-Stromborg, Marilyn and Sharon Olsen, eds.
    Instruments for Clinical Health-Care Research
    Call Number: Ref WY 20.5 I59 1997,2004

Arranged by topic with explanatory text about each subject. Lists several instruments under each topic that could be used to measure related variables. Also includes reviews/commentary.

  • Goldman, Bert A.
    Directory of Unpublished Experimental Mental Measures.
    Call Number: Ref BF 431 G619d 1996

Measurement tools are not limited to published tests provided through the usual suppliers. This book lists tests that can be found in journal articles, but not supplied by the usual publishers of instruments. Arranged by subject/topic. Provides citations for articles in which tests can be found.

  • McDowell, Ian.
    Measuring Health: A Guide to Rating Scales and Questionnaires.
    Call Number: WA 900.1 M478m 1989,1996

Arranged by subject/topic. Limited number of instruments included, but provides thorough evaluations. Includes full text of tests plus description, purpose, reliability, validity and commentary.

  • Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms
    Call Number: Ref WM 15 T413 2001

This is the thesaurus for the PsycInfo database. Standardized vocabulary used by authors to describe concepts. Includes synonyms, broader terms, and narrower terms. Helpful in guiding searchers to topic descriptors that might otherwise be overlooked.

Specialized Reference Books

  • Thompson, Christopher, ed.
    The Instruments of Psychiatric Research.
    Call Number: Ref WM 141 I59 1989

Organized by topic then lists tests under each topic area. Includes description of tests as well as commentary and evaluation.

  • Ward, Mary Jane and Lindeman, Carol Ann, eds.
    Instruments for Measuring Nursing Practice and Other Health Care Variables.
    Call Number: Ref WY 20.5 W261i 1979

2 volumes. Includes full text of tests. Does not include tests that are readily available in other compilations. Addresses tests for psychosocial issues. Also includes descriptions, instructions on administration, reliability, and use in research. Has a bibliography of other resources for tests.

Additional Resources

Some Important Things to Keep in Mind

  • The actual print versions of these instruments are not always readily available. You may need to order them and allow time for delivery.
  • Many of these tests are copyrighted. There are proprietary issues, so you cannot simply photocopy them at will and use them. It is your responsibility to contact the test author and request permission to use their test and to secure their permission in writing if the material is copyrighted. Locating the author may be a difficult process, particularly if the measure is several years old, but try the following steps:
    1. Journal articles may list the author's organization affiliation with a mailing address on the first page of the article.
    2. If this fails, directories published by scientific and professional associations like APA could provide you with a current address and phone number for the author.
    3. If these attempts to locate the author fail, contact the publisher holding the copyright to the original material and request permission from the publisher.
  • No matter how difficult this process may seem, you should make every effort to contact an author or copyright holder to secure permission before using any test or other instrument.
  • It is tempting to want to develop your own test/instrument to suit your needs. However, there are many elements to consider such as random sampling, scoring, and so on. You also may be re-inventing the wheel. Do a thorough search using the resources listed here to see if a tool already exists that may suit your needs.
  • Remember to cite your sources. Consult the Publication Manual of the APA

Original Author at the University of Washington Health Science Libraries:

Janet G. Schnall, MS, AHIP, and Joanne Rich, MLIS, BS (Pharm)
Information Management Librarians
Library Liaisons to the School of Nursing