Finding Research Tools

Introduction

You may need to find a tool to help you carry out your research. Finding a verified tool is challenging. Often, tools are owned by the authors who created them for use in a study and are not provided in the articles reporting on the study or in books that provide tools. Regardless of where you find a tool, you will most likely need to contact the authors to request written permission to use it in your work and possibly obtain a copy of it. The author(s) may request payment. If the author(s) do provide permission, keep that documentation. This guide offers suggestions on finding tools in the library and online.

Find a Tool in the Library

Scholarly Literature

1. Search in the library literature to find researchers who have developed a tool on your topic. Sometimes, the tool will be included in appendices of an article.

2. Use the references of articles that mention the tool to trace back to the original document that describes the tool.

3. Add terms such as tools, questionnaires, or surveys to your search in the databases. See example below:

"smoking cessation" AND tools

4. Look to see if the database you are using has a filter for publication type, and select items such as surveys, questionnaires, etc., like in the example below from CINAHL.

Database Search

The Health and Psychological Instruments (HaPI) database allows you to search your topic, and the database will pull up names of different measurement tools. However, you won't get the actual tool. Instead, you are directed to articles that use or describe the tool. You can then work on finding access to the tool. 

Tip! Even if you find a free tool or a tool is provided in an article, you may need to get permission to use it. Read websites carefully for permissions needed. With the scholarly literature, be sure to contact the author(s) for a copy of the tool and permission to use. Make sure to keep a record of these interactions.