How do you know whether you've found a “good” or “bad” instrument? Is the instrument well-designed?
Researchers often discuss the “validity” of instruments, rather than whether they are “good” or “bad.” According to the Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, validity is “the extent to which any measuring instrument measures what it is intended to measure.” Validity is an important indication of whether an instrument will be useful. Validity not only depends on the instrument itself, but how you use the instrument. Even if an instrument is generally considered to be “valid,” it might not be applicable to the particular group, behavior, or situation you are trying to study (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004, p. 1171).
At this point, the library doesn’t have staff with expertise to recommend or evaluate instruments. So, please contact your professor.
If you find a copy of an instrument, can you just go ahead and use it?
No. Some instruments can only be purchased, administered, or interpreted by a licensed or certified professional.
Even if you are qualified to administer the instrument, there are a lot of other things you may need to do first. These include, but are not limited to:
Always consult with your professor about the design of your research project, before you undertake it!
CAUTION: A variety of government regulations, professional codes, and institutional policies determine how educational/psychological testing must be conducted. Below are only some of the documents and agencies that pertain to Penn State faculty and students: