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Surveys: Creating Online Surveys in Qualtrics, Finding Existing Surveys/Scales, and Survey Design Methodology

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Tools & Tips for Finding Existing Survey Instruments & Measurement Scales

Bullet-pointed below are resources for finding existing survey instruments and measurement scales to use in your own research.


Another good way to identify survey instruments/measurement scales for your own research is to read the published empirical research on your topic to see what surveys/scales those researchers used, and then:

  • you might then be able to find that survey instrument/measurement scale in the resources above, or
  • google the name of the survey/measurement scale and see if it's available for download or purchase, or
  • contact the researcher(s) to see if they'll share it with you.

APA PsycTESTS - Breakdown of a Results Record

Highlighted below are key parts of an APA PsycTESTS results record to examine when evaluating if a survey/scale will be useful for your own research.

 

PDF Link to Scale Items

Look for a PDF Full Text link to the left of the result record -- if there's a link, then you can click there to access the scale items. 

Citation for APA PsycTESTS Record

On the right side of the record is a Cite option -- click that to get a proper citation for the APA PsycTESTS record.

NOTE: Not all APA PsycTESTS records offer the scale items for download -- in that case, try googling the title of the scale to see if it's available for download elsewhere (although it may not be free).

 

Description of Survey/Scale

The Description field will provide you details about the process used for constructing and testing the survey/scale.

Test Year

Also take note of the Test Year information to make sure you're not using a severely outdated scale.

 

PDF LINK TO SCALE ITEMS

If available, click the PDF Full Text link to open a PDF, which will contain a cover page followed by the survey/scale items.

Source Citation and Permissions 

Use the Source citation to properly credit the creators of the survey/scale. Note the Permissions information, which details how you can use and distribute the survey/scale for your own research purposes.

Instrument Type and Test Format

The Instrument Type and Test Format information summarizes how the survey/scale items were structured and scored -- very important information for you to properly reconstruct the survey for your own use!

 

Reliability, Validity, and Factor Analysis

Reported tests of reliability, validity, and factor analysis can give you more confidence that the survey/scale has gone through a rigorous process for ensuring its trustworthiness as a reliable and valid measurement tool.

RELIABILITY

Reliability, or Internal Consistency, as measured by Cronbach's alpha (α)

"Cronbach’s alpha (α) is a measure used to assess the reliability, or internal consistency, of a set of scale or test items. In other words, the reliability of any given measurement refers to the extent to which it is a consistent measure of a concept, and Cronbach’s alpha (α) is one way of measuring the strength of that consistency...The resulting α coefficient of reliability ranges from 0 to 1 in providing this overall assessment of a measure’s reliability... the higher the α coefficient, the more the items have shared covariance and probably measure the same underlying concept...many methodologists recommend a minimum α coefficient between 0.65 and 0.8 (or higher in many cases); α coefficients that are less than 0.5 are usually unacceptable..."

[from UVA Library StatLab's "Using and Interpreting Cronbach's Alpha"]

VALIDITY

Does the survey/scale measure what it's intended to?

"Construct validity refers to whether the scores of a test or instrument measure the distinct dimension (construct) they are intended to measure." 

[from Salkind, N. J. (2010). Construct validity. In Encyclopedia of research design (Vol. 1, pp. 230-233). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.]

"Construct validity is the extent to which the measurements used, often questionnaires, actually test the hypothesis or theory they are measuring. Construct validity should demonstrate that scores on a particular test do predict the theoretical trait it says it does...Convergent construct validity tests the relationship between the construct and a similar measure; this shows that constructs which are meant to be related are related."

[from Ginty A.T. (2013). Construct validity. In Encyclopedia of behavioral medicine. New York, NY: Springer]

FACTOR ANALYSIS

Do multiple items within a scale "hang together" to measure a single construct?

"Suppose you are conducting a survey and you want to know whether the items in the survey have similar patterns of responses, do these items “hang together” to create a construct? The basic assumption of factor analysis is that for a collection of observed variables there are a set of underlying variables called factors (smaller than the observed variables), that can explain the interrelationships among those variables."

[from UCLA IDRE's "A Practical Introdcution to Factor Analysis: Exploratory Factor Analysis"]

Should multiple items in a scale be combined into a composite/index score?

"One common reason for running Principal Component Analysis (PCA) or Factor Analysis (FA) is variable reduction. In other words, you may start with a 10-item scale meant to measure something like Anxiety, which is difficult to accurately measure with a single question. You could use all 10 items as individual variables in an analysis–perhaps as predictors in a regression model. But you’d end up with a mess. Not only would you have trouble interpreting all those coefficients, but you’re likely to have multicollinearity problems. And most importantly, you’re not interested in the effect of each of those individual 10 items on your outcome. You’re interested in the effect of Anxiety as a whole. So we turn to a variable reduction technique like FA or PCA to turn 10 related variables into one that represents the construct of Anxiety."

[from The Analysis Factor's "How to Calculate an Index Score from a Factor Analysis"]

 

Source Citation 

The Source Citation field gives the citation to the original article containing a deeper discussion of the scale development and testing process. A PsycINFO database record link will take you to the article record, where...

"Times Cited" in PsycINFO

...you can click the "Times Cited in this Database" link to find more articles by researchers who have used the survey/scale in their research -- a good way to get ideas about how you might use the survey/scale in YOUR research.

 

Sources for above screenshots:


Searching APA PsycINFO’s Tests and Measurements Field

In addition to searching APA PsycTESTS, you can also search the APA PsycINFO database's Tests & Measurements field -- the below video tutorial will show you how to use this approach for finding surveys/scales.


Searching CINAHL Plus with Full Text for Surveys/Scales

You can also use some of these strategies when searching the CINAHL Plus with Full Text database to potentially identify surveys/scales/instruments to use:

In the Advanced Search, in the Publication Type limiter: Select Questionnaire/Scale (to see studies using questionnaires/scales) or Research Instrument (to see brief descriptions of survey/scale instruments and contact information for creators)

In Search Field dropdown: Select IN Instrumentation