Some tools and measures first appear as appendices to journal articles, so if you can find where it was first published then you may find contact details for the author to check if they are the copyright owner. Occasionally journal articles state permissions up front.
Many tools and measures are published in books. The book may point you to who the copyright owner is or even state permissions up front.
If you are searching for a particular tool or measure try a keyword search for the full title and acronym. Try looking at the oldest article first, as often it will be the original. Check references of newer articles using the tool to see if they cite the original article. If you are searching for tools in a certain topic area check if the database has an appropriate subject heading you can use such as the following from Medline: Questionnaires, Psychological Tests, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales and combine with your topic.
You can search in the instrumentation field (IN) for names or acronyms of tests/measures/scales used in a study.
There are a couple of useful subject headings ‘Instrument by Type’ and ‘Instrument by Name’ – the latter allows you to retrieve articles about a particular instrument.
Using the limit Publication Type: Questionnaire/Scale will return articles will have a copy of an instrument included.
Using the limit Publication Type: Research Instrument will return a description of the instrument in question which includes details of the copyright owner at the date the summary was created.
The Tests & Measures field contains the names of published tests and measures used in the research study. This field may contain multiple tests or measures. You can search within this field from Advanced Search or browse via the Index. If the article is a discussion about a test or measure but does not use the tool for research then the Tests & Measures field is not populated.
You can search using the Classification Code 2200: this returns articles in the area of Psychometrics & Statistics & Methodology. Truncate the code 22* to retrieve everything in the Psychometrics & Statistics & Methodology hierarchy, more specific codes include 2220 Tests & Testing and 2223 Personality Scales & Inventories. Classification codes can be combined with subject searches.
You can add (appended) after a tool name and search in the Tests & Measures field to find articles that have a copy of the tool included e.g. Beck Anxiety Inventory (appended). Simply searching for (appended) in the Tests & Measures field will find all articles with a tool appended.
- Sometimes an internet search will turn up useful results. Occasionally tools will have their own dedicated website or you may be able to trace it back to another organisation e.g. a professional organisation or a university.
- Distributors: the MAPI Research Trust facilitate access to many questionnaires, some free and some at a cost.
- Publishers: some tools are commericial in nature and you will find these on publishers’ websites. Some big publishers are GL Assessment, Pearson, Ann Arbor and Speechmark.
- Other useful websites:
- ePROVIDE Databases on Clinical Outcome Assessments (COAs)
- ETS Database – provided by non-profit organisation ETS, the database provides information on more than 25,000 tests and other measurement devices.
- Test Reviews Online – provides descriptive information on more than 3,500 commercially available tests.
Tips for Literature Searching on Tools & Measures
- Consider your local context/population – is an article looking at reliability/validity in an American college student population relevant to how it will be used in your board?
- Are articles on the reliablity/validity of translated versions of the tool relevant? If not, exclude.
- Are you looking for articles about the tool? Or examples of it being used in research? Plan your search accordingly (see specific database tips above).
- What type of tool are you looking for? e.g. self report, clinician report etc
Poster Presentations and Conference Abstracts
Check the hosting Society/Association/Royal College etc websites for conference details. Most publish abstracts and posters slightly in advance or immediately after the event and have previous years proceedings also.
Has it been written up?
Bear in mind that the title may have been changed from abstract/poster into final journal article and also that the authors may not be listed in the same order they were for the abstract/poster. Best to search using key concepts from previous title and different permutations of author names. Also think about timing. When was the conference held? Has there been enough time for the research to be completed, written up and published?
ZETOC: British Library's database of conference proceedings from 1993 onwards. Available via the Knowledge Network.
Still ongoing or unpublished?
Web of Science: available via the National Library of Scotland (free registration)
NHS Choices Behind the Headlines: provides an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news. The service is intended for both the public and health professionals
Opening Up Government: for raw datasets covering the NHS, local authorities etc.
The Knowledge Network “Keep up to date” feeds
CASH: Current Awareness Service for Health (NHS England)
See also: websites of societies, professional organisations and Royal Colleges
Campbell, M.J. & Swinscow, T.D.V., 2011. Statistics at square one 11th ed., Wiley-Blackwell. E-book available to read online with OpenAthens login. The ninth edition is available in open access via the BMJ.
Rice Virtual Lab in Statistics: includes a link to the Hyperstat online textbook, as well as simulations, case studies and statistical analysis tools. From Rice University, Texas.
Students 4 Best Evidence - digestible stats articles on a wide variety of topics
General grey literature
NHS Academy of Fabulous Stuff: sharing ideas and examples of service developments in the NHS, both large and small.
Grey Matters: a practical tool for searching health-related grey literature
GreySource: a selection of web-based resources in grey literature. Produced by GreyNet International, the Netherlands. Includes sections on medical sciences and social sciences.
Grey Guide: “An online forum and repository of good practice in the field of grey literature. The GreyGuide seeks to capture proposed as well as published practices dealing with the supply and demand sides of grey literature. This is a collaborative project involving GreyNet International and ISTI-CNR Pisa, Italy.”
UK Health Forum: information and evidence in public health from news to grey literature. Legacy site.
Public Health England: Grey Literature: index and alternative sources and resources
OpenGrey: “System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe, is your open access to 700,000 bibliographical references of grey literature (paper) produced in Europe.”
BASE : Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
Flinders University: AACODS checklist. “The AACODS checklist is designed to enable evaluation and critical appraisal of grey literature.”
You can limit your search by (for example):
- File type (try .pdf for documents)
- Site or domain (to search across a website, type its address into the “site or domain” search box)
- Type of website (use the domain search limit. eg. gov.uk searches across UK government websites, ac.uk searches across UK academic websites)
- Country (.uk will limit to UK websites)
Other search engines are available.
- provides records for 500,000+ doctoral theses.
- A log-in is not required to search. Register if you want to download a thesis.
- You can request that a thesis be digitised (a fee may be attached to the digitisation of some theses).
DART Europe: open-access doctoral dissertations from a variety of EU institutions.
Open Access Theses and Dissertations: free repository of theses, dissertations, and other academic documents.
NDLTD global ETD search: networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
Enlighten: Glasgow Theses Service. A collection of full text Higher Degree theses completed successfully at the University of Glasgow.
Library Hub Discover: search across 100+ catalogues from the UK and Irish universities, national libraries and the British Library.
British Library: search for conferences and theses. Use advanced search to refine your search.
Databases useful for grey literature
Health Management Information Consortium (HMIC): database of official publications, journal articles and grey literature from the Department of Health (primarily post-1983) and the King’s Fund (post 1979). Available via the Knowledge Network (Ovid).
Social Care Online - Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE): UK-based database of information on social work and social care. Includes legislation, government documents, practice and guidance, systematic reviews, research briefings and journal articles, events, training materials, video clips and blogs.
MedRxiv - distribution of preprints that are complete but unpublished manuscripts describing health research (research articles, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, clinical research design protocols and data articles)
Trip Database: use the “Overdiagnosis” filter in the right-hand margin of the search results page.
Browsable topics include NHS Finances, Productivity, Organisational Culture and more. Also use the search button. King’s Fund reports include:
- Making the case for quality improvement: lessons for NHS boards and leaders (2017)
- Improving quality in the English NHS: A strategy for action (2016)
- Better value in the NHS: the role of changes in clinical practice (2015)
- Variations in health care: the good, the bad and the inexplicable (2011)
- Publications on Productivity
This page provides an excellent timeline of evidence and examples of too much medicine. There is also a digital theme issue of the BMJ on Overdiagnosis.
- NICE Do Not Do database
NICE’s “Do Not Do” database contains all the recommendations that NICE has made for clinical practices that should either be discontinued or not used routinely within the NHS. (recommended by the BMJ Too Much Medicine resource).