Instruments can be very difficult to get!
Most instruments (surveys, scales, questionnaires, etc.) are not published openly. You may find sample questions in the text of articles about the studies, but not the full instrument. Plan for the need to request your desired instrument from the authors or publishers. Some instruments even cost money to use.
Note: contacting authors is not as easy as it seems. One study found that the likelihood of finding a useable email address falls by 7% per year after publication. If the email address given in the article does not work, try doing a web search. Also try contacting other authors even if one author is specifically given as the 'corresponding' author.
Pay attention to copyright and permissions statements. If permission is not explicitly given, request permission to use an instrument.
Hays RD, Weech-Maldonado R, Teresi JA, Wallace SP, Stewart AL. Commentary: Copyright Restrictions Versus Open Access to Survey Instruments. Med Care. 2018 Feb;56(2):107-110. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000857. PubMed PMID: 29256974; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5766425
Ideally, you'll find your instrument by finding a research article in your regular searching. Try one or more of these tips to improve your searches:
Once you've found an interesting article:
The majority of instruments are not published (though it is becoming more common).
Nursing literature includes a valuable type of article, the Continuing Education Unit (CEU). These articles offer something to read and questions about the content, provided by an association that offers CE credits (usually by mail-in or online testing). These quizzes can be a useful way to come up with knowledge tests, which can be used for pre- or post-tests before or after an education intervention.
We have 3 databases specifically for finding instruments and there are several similar websites. In all cases, these give you the references and information about the instruments, not the instruments themselves. Follow the citations (Find Article @ SCSU, Journal Title search, or CONSULS catalog search (for books)) for the articles that describe the instruments--even these articles may not have the instruments themselves.
If there is an Availability section, be sure to check for contact information.
[topic] refers to the general subject of your study. Don't get too specific--examples: depression, smoking, attention deficit disorder, workplace safety.