What are measurement tools?
Measurement tools are instruments like surveys, questionnaires, or scales to help collect data from a population—whether patients, students, clients, or subjects. They help quantify variables that are not normally quantifiable with technology and equipment. For example, we can draw blood and run a lipid panel to measure cholesterol levels. However, concepts like anxiety or pain or satisfaction cannot be measured by any equipment or technology so we must rely on measurement tools.
Do note that many measurement tools are protected by copyright. If planning to use a tool for research or practice, you may need to get copyright permission or pay for a license. Talk to your librarian for further information.
Terms to know:
- Reliability: The extent to which a measurement is free from error. The result for a person who has not changed also doesn’t change when retested at different intervals, by different people, or in different situations.
- Validity: the degree to which an instrument is measuring the thing it claims to measure. For example, does a test for student engagement actually measure that, or is it measuring something else, like extroversion or intelligence?
Where to Find Measurement Tools
- Health and Psychosocial Instruments
Health and Psychosocial Instruments is a multidisciplinary database that contains records about 50,000 different measurement tools, covering subjects such as health, psychology, education and business. It includes just the records for instruments, not the full instruments, which must be found elsewhere in most cases.
- Mental Measurements Yearbook
Mental Measurements Yearbook contains records and reviews of thousands of measurement tools used in disciplines like psychology, education, and business. The tools found in this database are commercially available products and usually require purchase from a publisher.
- Searching Other Databases
There are many other ways and places to find measurement tools. One good option is using keyword searching in subject databases. Simply do a keyword search as you would normally, but add terms that indicate you are searching for a measurement tool, such as the following:
- "test anxiety" AND ("oral interview" OR questionnaire)
- "website usability" AND (validity OR reliability) AND (test OR survey OR instrument OR measurement)
Further Databases for Finding Measurement Tools
Database NDSU Login Required Description APA PsycArticles Yes Behavioral science and related fields, including education, nursing, business, neuroscience, etc. APA PsycInfo Yes Index of peer-reviewed literature in behavioral sciences and mental health. CINAHL Yes Database of nursing and allied health literature, including measurement tools used in the health sciences. ERIC No Education literature database that includes articles regarding measurement tools used in K-12 and higher education settings. ETS Test Collection No Database of thousands of measurement tools primarily focused on education but encompassing multiple disciplines; includes tests from countries other than the US. PubMed Yes (for links to NDSU resources) Large database covering a wide variety of health and medical specialties, including literature related to measurement tool development and use. Rand Health No RAND, a non-profit research organization that works to improve health around the world, makes their measurement tools available without charge Scopus Yes Broad database covering the hard sciences, social sciences, health sciences, and more. Sociological Abstracts Yes Database of social and behavioral sciences literature, including measurement tools commonly used by social sciences researchers. Substance Use Screening & Assessment Instruments Database No Smaller collection of measurement tools used by researchers and care providers in the area of substance abuse prevention and treatment. Web of Science Yes Broad database covering the hard sciences, social sciences, health sciences, and more.
Books and articles about measurement tools:
Measurement and the Measurement of Change
Measurement in Nursing and Health Research
Tests: A Comprehensive Reference for Assessments in Psychology, Education, and Business
Educational Assessment: Tests and Measurements in the Age of Accountability
Handbook of Psychological Assessment
Copyright Restrictions Versus Open Access to Survey Instruments