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Finding Research Instruments

What is ERIC?

ERIC is an excellent database for searching the education literature.

Important Definitions


  • searchable research tool that includes records about a wide range of sources, primarily articles


  • collection of information about a single item, usually an article, within a database; includes several fields


  • section of a record that provides a specific piece of information about the item described (the title, the author, the abstract, etc.)

Truncation (*)

  • the star or asterisk key tells the database to look for any ending of a word; one example: searching for measure* in a database would find the words measure, measures, and measurement

Searching By Topic

To find instruments about your research topic, use keywords about it in one or more of the search boxes. In the final box, try using this string of words: test* OR measure* OR survey* OR questionnaire* OR scale* OR batter* OR inventor* OR checklist* OR instrument* OR pretest* OR posttest* OR interview*. It's generally unwise to limit to any particular field here, since the name of a test may show up in the abstract or the identifier, so to be comprehensive you need to search both.

search by topic 1

To narrow your results, if they're too broad, consider using the ERIC Thesaurus to find the appropriate descriptor for your topic.

descriptor example

Alternately, you can use additional keywords to reduce irrelevant results.

search by topic 2

ERIC does have a Publication Type limit for Tests/Questionnaires, but it significantly narrows your search results. That may make it difficult to find test name options that you could try in another database, even if they don't show up in ERIC.

Searching By Title

As mentioned in the Searching By Topic box above, limiting to a specific field isn't your best option here, so try putting the name of your instrument (if you know it exactly) in quotation marks. You can use the acronym instead, if you know it.

search by title

Searching For Evaluations

Follow the instructions for either Searching By Topic or Searching By Name, depending on what you're trying to do. In the final box, put this string of words: "Test Reviews" OR "Test Reliability" OR "Test Validity" OR "Construct Validity" OR "Content Validity" and use the drop-down menu next to the box to select SU Descriptors. This tells ERIC to search the descriptor field for terms relating to evaluation of tests.

test evaluation search

If you're searching by topic, this will give you considerably more results than a more specific search. As an alternative, if you want only test reviews, just use "Test Reviews" instead, still using the drop-down to choose SU Descriptors.