Skip to Main Content

Nursing Research Instruments

This guide contains resources to assist your search for instruments (scales, measures, surveys, etc.) used in qualitative and quantitative research, as well as patient care.

Subject Guide

 Research Instruments are assessments, scales, questionnaires, measures, surveys, inventories, and tests used in qualitative and quantitative research Searching for nursing research instruments can be challenging. This research guide contains resources that may assist you as you search. Be cognizant of copyright and the need to obtain permission to use an already developed instrument as you search for nursing research instruments. If you have questions about the use of instruments in research and their appropriateness and/or copyright, contact your instructor/department for further guidelines.

Finding research instruments

The SJSU Library has several resources that can be used to identify assessments and other instruments to support research and patient-care.

Caution: you may need to contact the author or publisher of a tool to 1) have access to the complete instrument and 2) get permission to reuse it.

Getting permission

Question: Do I need permission to use an instrument that I found online?

Answer: It depends. If in the instrument the author/publisher clearly states that it is freely available, then you're OK! Go ahead and use the instrument.

If the instrument policy is unknown or vague, or if the full instrument is not available -only mentioned or described- you'll need to reach out to the copyright holder.


  1. Look for the "Original Version Author" and corresponding contact information in the references of the publication the instrument was mentioned in and/or any websites where information about the instrument is offered. Medical Outcomes Trust is a good place to start looking for this information.
  2. If a contact form is offered, fill that out. If not, write an email to the owner(s) stating your intention and which instrument (make sure you get the name correct!) you wish to obtain / use. If possible, use your email address.
  3. Identify yourself as a student or member of an academic organization. Make it clear that you will not use the instrument for commercial purposes.
  4. Keep a record of permissions granted, permissions denied or no response. If you don't receive a response after a few weeks, send another email.