REDCap Overview


REDCap Overview

REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a secure, HIPAA-compliant web-based application designed for data collection for research studies. REDCap provides:

  • An easy-to-use data entry system, with data validation
  • The ability to import data from external sources
  • Automated exports to the most common statistical packages(SPSS, SAS, R, and Stata)
  • Audit trails for tracking data changes and exports
  • Branching logic, calculations, and answer piping to increase functionality and personalization
  • A sophisticated survey tool for building and managing online surveys

You may log in to REDCap or if you require an account, please complete the REDCap tutorial.

REDCap will be unavailable between 8:30 am-10 am on the last Friday of every month for maintenance and upgrades.

Policies and Procedures


Policies and Procedures

 

Who Can Use REDCap?

REDCap at the University of Colorado is supported by CCTSI. If you are a member of CCTSI and your study has been approved by IRB (or you have a documented waiver of review from IRB), all REDCap-related costs are covered by CCTSI. School of Medicine provides additional funding for faculty/staff to use REDCap.

The TIC also underwrites access to REDCap for student projects provided that the course director:

  1. Attends a tutorial on the relevant REDCap tool
  2. Agrees to be the first point of contact for all student questions regarding REDCap
Course directors who are interested in making REDCap tools available to their students should contact us. Students who are interested in using REDCap tools for a class project should contact their course director.

Getting a REDCap Account

 

For a Basic (Data Entry) Account

This is the account that you need if you are going to be doing basic tasks in REDCap, such as data entry or data exports. To get a Basic REDCap account, you first need to complete the Data Entry Tutorial. After you have done this, you will receive instructions for setting up your REDCap account. When you have set up your account, make sure to send your username to the project manager so they can add you to the project.

For a Full Account

This is the account that you need if you are going to be doing project design, project management, or user rights management. There are two ways to get a full REDCap account.

  1. Complete the online REDCap tutorial--this tutorial takes about two hours
  2. Attend an in-person tutorial run by a REDCap administrator. Tutorials can be scheduled by request for small groups—please contact us if you wish to schedule a tutorial for your team.

After you complete your tutorial, you will receive instructions on setting up your REDCap account. If you are joining an existing project, make sure to send your username to the project manager so they can add you to the project. Only people who have full accounts should have project design or user management rights in a project.

Moving a Project to Production

  1. Test your project thoroughly. Consult with your statistician and data entry people if possible
  2. Someone with a full account clicks "Move project to production" at the bottom of the project setup page
  3. Select whether you want to keep or delete any data you have entered into the project
  4. The REDCap administrators will receive a notice you want to move your project to production. They will run a quick "best practices" check on your data dictionary
  5. If appropriate, they will ask you to make some changes to your project to meet the best practices. When you have finished, simply e-mail back
  6. The REDCap administrators will send you a brief survey about your project
  7. The same person who requested the project moved should complete this form
  8. Your project will be moved to production

Changing a Project in Production

You can still make changes to a project once it is in production mode. To make the changes, go to the Online Designer and choose to enter Draft Mode. After you do that, you will be able to make whatever changes you need to. These changes should only be made by people who have completed the full tutorial.

If there is no chance of your changes affecting your data, the changes will be approved automatically. If the changes might affect your data, REDCap will alert the administrators, who will review the proposed changes. If the changes will not affect your data, they will be approved. If they will affect your data, the REDCap administrator will verify that you are aware of the effects and you want them to take effect. If you respond yes, the project will be approved.

If you do not want the submitted changes, the REDCap administrator can either place your project back in Draft Mode so you can correct the changes, or they can reject all the changes so that your project returns to what it was before you entered draft mode.

Citing REDCap

When you are ready to publish your research, please include the citations below to acknowledge the role of REDCap and CCTSI in providing the REDCap service.

Please cite the REDCap project when publishing manuscript using the following language:

Study data were collected and managed using REDCap electronic data capture tools hosted at [YOUR INSTITUTION].1 REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a secure, web-based application designed to support data capture for research studies, providing: 1) an intuitive interface for validated data entry; 2) audit trails for tracking data manipulation and export procedures; 3) automated export procedures for seamless data downloads to common statistical packages; and 4) procedures for importing data from external sources.

1Paul A. Harris, Robert Taylor, Robert Thielke, Jonathon Payne, Nathaniel Gonzalez, Jose G. Conde, Research electronic data capture (REDCap) - A metadata-driven methodology and workflow process for providing translational research informatics support, J Biomed Inform. 2009 Apr;42(2):377-81.

Please acknowledge the support by CCTSI in any publications with the following text: This [publication, patent, project] was supported by NIH/NCATS Colorado CTSA Grant Number UL1 TR002535. Its contents are the authors’ sole responsibility and do not necessarily represent official NIH views.

REDCap Tutorials


REDCap Tutorials

There are two kinds of REDCap accounts, full accounts and basic accounts. Full accounts are required for people who will be doing project creation, project design/management, user management, or using APIs. Basic accounts are for people who will be doing simpler tasks in REDCap, such as data entry or working with survey participants. To receive a REDCap account of either type, you must complete the appropriate tutorial.

Please note: If you are using Internet Explorer and are having trouble viewing the videos in the online tutorial, please make sure you are using the most up-to-date version.

Basic Accounts

To get a basic account, you must complete the data entry tutorial. This online tutorial consists of four short videos and a quiz that will cover background information, data entry, creating reports, exporting data, contacting survey participants, and working in longitudinal projects. if you will be doing project management, user management, or using APIs you will need a full account. It takes about forty-five minutes and does not all have to be done in one session. To leave the tutorial and finish later, simply click the "Save and return later" button. After you have completed the tutorial you will receive instructions on creating your REDCap account. When you have your REDCap account, you will need to give your username to the project manager so that they can add you to the project.

Full Accounts

To get a full account, you must complete the full account online tutorial. After you have completed the tutorial, you will receive instructions on creating your REDCap account. Once you have a REDCap account, you can create your own project database or survey. You will be provided with resources to help guide you through database creation. If you have already completed the tutorial and have a CCTSI/UCD account and need a CHCO account, please just contact us.

When you have finished creating your database or survey, you will submit a request to the REDCap Administrator to move the database to Production status to begin collecting data. At this point you will need to supply your study IRB approval number. The online tutorials consist of ten short videos and a quiz, after which you receive instructions on setting up your REDCap account. This tutorial takes about two hours and does not all have to be done in one session. To leave the tutorial and finish later, simply click the "Save and return later" button.

In-person tutorials for groups can be arranged upon request.

Please contact us if you plan to attend a scheduled tutorial or if you would like to schedule a tutorial.

REDCap Resources


REDCap Resources

Best Practices


Best Practices

Project Setup



Project Setup

 

  • Login and Project Creation: Learn how to log in to your REDCap account and create a new project. (video)
  • Project Setup Page: Explore the project home, project setup, other functionality, and project revision pages. Learn how to customize the settings for your projects, set user rights, use data access groups, and move your project to Production. (video)
  • Online Designer: Learn about the basic steps in designing your project. Learn how to set up forms; create a new field; validate fields; code multiple choice questions; use yes/no and true/false fields; create slider fields; and how to use file upload fields, descriptive fields, and section headers. (video)
  • Online Designer - Advanced Features: Learn how to use advanced features in the Online Designer, such as branching logic, calculated fields, matrices, piping, and the data dictionary. Review some best practices in form creation. (video)
  • Data Dictionary Guide (user guide)
  • Longitudinal Database: Learn about the longitudinal data collection set up and how it varies from a standard, or classic, data collection instrument. Learn how to define events and assign forms to specific events, use the scheduling module, and advanced calendar features available only in longitudinal studies. (video)
  • Repeating Forms: Learn how to use repeating forms and events (video)

Advanced Form Design



Advanced Form Design
  • Field Embedding: Explore how to use the field embedding feature to format data entry and survey forms (video)
  • Action Tags: Learn how to use the most popular and powerful action tags (video)
  • Action Tags – list of all action tags with descriptions
  • Smart Variables: Learn how to use smart variables in REDCap (video)
  • Calculations: Learn how to use simple calculations, if/then statements, nest calculations, and datediff calculations (video)
  • Build My Calc (tool)
  • Formatting REDCap Forms with HTML (user guide)

Data Management



Data Management
  • Data Entry: Learn how to add new records, edit existing records, use advanced data entry features, and navigate between records
  • Missing Data: Set specific missing data codes for your entire project
  • Advanced Features: Learn how to use some advanced REDCap features, including the randomization feature, the logging feature, the field comment log, the data import tool, and the data quality tool
  • Data Imports: A detailed look at use the import tool to import data from another source
  • Randomization: Learn how to use the randomization feature
  • Reports and Exports: Learn how to create a report, review basic statistics and charts, and export a report or full data set

Surveys



Surveys
  • Surveys: Learn how to enable surveys, the benefits of using surveys, setting up your survey, and the different ways you can distribute both initial and follow up surveys
  • Survey Login: Learn how to use the survey login feature (video)
  • Survey Queue: A deep dive into using the survey queue (video)
  • PDF Auto-Archiver and e-Consent: Use REDCap's e-Consent framework to consent participants and save PDFs of the consent (video) • Twilio: Learn how to use Twilio to send your survey invitations via text message or allow participants to take the survey via voice call (video)
  • Twilio – Vanderbilt resource
  • Twilio – user guide

Optional Modules



Optional Modules
  • Double Data Entry: Learn how to use REDCap's Double Date Entry module
  • MyCap decision tree
  • MyCap: A participant-friendly REDCap app (video)
  • MyCap: user guide
  • Mobile App (user guide)

Updates and Additional Features



Updates and Additional Features

We hold a REDCap user group meeting for our active users after every major upgrade, twice a year, to discuss the new features. You can watch the recording of our 8/26/2020 user group meeting on Vimeo.

Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add users to my project?

Anyone creating projects should attend a tutorial (see schedule on Tutorials page) which focuses on project creation and REDCap use policies. If you have attended a tutorial, you can request limited accounts for others who will not be designing/managing projects, but only doing data entry, data export, etc. To request an account, email the REDCap administrator with the person's name and work email address. By doing this, you are also taking responsibility for training them.

Why is the Participant ID the first field in the project?

When you set up a REDCap database, your record identifier, e.g. Participant ID, must be the first field on the first form so that REDCap will link all following data on all forms for that record. There is no need to repeat the record identifier in each form.

How do I code categorical variables?

If your categorical variable has numeric response options, be sure to assign a value that is the same number to avoid confusion in analysis. For example, if the question is "How many times did you ....", and the options are 0,1,2,3,4,5, you should assign values of 0-5 (note: you cannot use the auto-assign feature of REDCap because it will start with 1). When should I use the dropdown field type? Use dropdown field types instead of radio buttons for categorical variables on your data entry forms. REDCap allows you to type the first character of a label to select that option in a dropdown, which is much easier than having to individually select each radio button with your mouse. How do I tell the difference between a radio and checkbox field? There is a visual cue to tell you whether a field is a radio button (single option) or a checkbox (choose all that apply). Radio buttons are round, checkboxes are square. How do I format branching logic or a calculation with checkbox fields? Checkbox, or "choose all that apply", fields are coded slightly differently from other categorical fields, such as radio or dropdown. In those, each option is set to equal a unique value, e.g. 1=red, 2=blue, 3=green. Because any or all of the checkbox field options can be selected, each option is treated as a separate field that is either checked or unchecked (coded 1 or 0). In your exported dataset, you will see that each option has become a separate variable with the number of the option as part of the variable name, e.g. color(1), color(2), color(3). When using options from a checkbox field in a calculation or in branching logic, instead of writing "color = 3", for example, you need to write "color(3)=1", meaning that option 3 of the variable "color" has been selected.

How do I hide a section header field type using branching logic?

Section header fields follow the branching logic for *all* fields until the next section header, so to hide a section header, all fields until the next section header must also be hidden.

How do I format greater than/less than conditions in my branching logic?

When using a greater than/less than (>,<) condition in branching logic, don't put quotation marks around the value, as you normally would when using equal to.

How do I test branching logic and calculated fields in my form or survey?

To test branching logic or calculated fields, enter a test record into your database or survey. These functions do not work on the Preview screen. You can remove all test records when you move to production.

How do I add an “other” option in a multiple field question that a participant can write in their answer?

To include an "Other" option in a multiple choice question that will allow respondents to write in an answer, add a text field that is only displayed when the Other option is selected. If you want it to appear right next to the “Other” option in the multiple choice question, you’ll need to use field embedding. You’ll follow the step above, but then additionally you’ll need to tell REDCap to embed the field with the multiple choice answers—this is done by putting the variable name in { } curly brackets where you want it to appear.

Can I base a calculated field off another calculated field?

If you are using calculated fields, avoid creating second-level calculations, i.e. using the results of a calculation as part of another calculation. These fields will not reliably calculate - even though values may appear in the field onscreen, the field may be blank in your exported dataset. Keep in mind the general recommendation to do calculations as part of analysis, and keep only raw data in your REDCap database.

Why isn’t my calculation saved?

If you add a calculated field after you have collected the data used in the calculation, you will need to resave the form containing the calculation to trigger REDCap to perform the calculation and populate the field. To update them all at once, you can go to Data Quality under Applications on the sidebar and run Rule H. It will show all fields where the calculated values don’t match what is saved and give you the option to update them all.

Can I display an image in my form or survey?

To display an image on your data entry form or survey, use the descriptive text field type which has a filed upload feature. For more information please see Formatting REDCap Forms with HTML.

Can I customize the appearance of my form or survey?

REDCap allows some customization of form appearance using HTML code. These include font size, font color, and spacing/indentation of field label text.

How do I set up the event grid in a longitudinal project?

When setting up a Longitudinal project event grid, if you are not using the Scheduling module, you don't need to set specific "days offset", but you still need to enter something to tell REDCap the order of your events. If you leave all zero's, REDCap will put your events in alphabetical order. So, you can just put 1, 2, 3 etc. You may also want to use increments of 5's in case you later need to insert a new event.

What happens if I accidently delete an event?

In a Longitudinal Model database, if you accidentally delete an event, your data will not be lost, just hidden. When you restore the event with the assigned forms, the data will also be restored.

Can I change the coding of my fields while in production?

Although you can make changes to your project fields after moving your project to Production, keep in mind that changes to coding for categorical fields will impact your existing data. For example, if you have a field with Yes/No responses that are coded 1,0 and you change these to 2,1 then what was originally coded as Yes will now be No - since you have changed the meaning of the value 1.

How do I test my database before moving to production?

It's a good idea to test your database or survey before moving to Production by entering a few records of either real or fake data. When moving to Production you can choose to keep or delete these records.

How do I review the changes I have made before submitting?

Before submitting post-production changes for review, you can see whether they will cause any problems by selecting the "view a detailed summary of all drafted changes" link located next to the Submit Changes for Review button.

Will I lose data if submitting changes while in production?

Project changes made after moving to production must be reviewed prior to being implemented to reduce the risk of data corruption due to a change. However, if you make a change that cannot possibly impact existing data (e.g. create a new field), once you submit the change for approval, it will be approved automatically - you won't have to wait for manual review and approval by the administrator. To view whether you changes create potential issues, while you're in draft mode, go to the "view a detailed summary of all drafted changes" link.

What should I do if I need to make significant of changes while in production?

If your project is in production and you need to make several changes, consider making a copy of the project (which will be in development), making the changes there, then using the data dictionary to implement the changes all at once in the production project. Alternatively, you can ask the REDCap administrator to move your project back to development.

How do I combine my instruments into a single survey?

If you have multiple instruments that you want to send out as a single survey, combine them onto a single REDCap form. You can insert page breaks between instruments using the Section Header field type.

How do I hide calculated fields in a survey?

If you are including survey responses in a calculation but don't want the respondent to see the calculations, create a separate data entry form and put the calculation fields there. The calculations will be triggered when the survey is submitted.

How do I schedule a survey to be sent at a specific date/time?

Using the "automated invitations" feature, you can schedule survey to be sent at a specific date/time as well as based on a specific response to a previous form or survey. See detailed instructions on how to do this in the Help/FAQ page.

How can I set up surveys to go out automatically?

If you are using online surveys, you can schedule them to be sent automatically at certain dates, or based on specified conditions being met. See Automated Invitations in the Online Designer for instructions.

How do I personalize an email invitation?

REDCap allows you to customize field labels or survey invitations using "piping". This means you can insert the response to one field, e.g. first name, into the label of another field or into a survey invitation text. To do this, just put the variable name in square brackets where you want the customized text. For example, if the respondent's first name is in a variable called "fname", you can add it to the label of another field like this: [fname], what is your favorite color? Similarly, when you write a survey invitation, you can use: Dear [fname], please complete the attached survey. Whatever name has been entered in the field fname will appear in place of the variable name.

How do I track survey responses?

You can track who has responded to a survey by using the Participant List option. In addition, you can identify individual responses using the Participant Identifier feature. Both of these options are found in the Manage Survey Participants section of your project.

Can I add or delete a survey response?

It is possible to edit or delete survey responses. To do this, check the Edit Surveys option in the User Rights section.

How do I verify if a survey respondent changed their answers?

If you are concerned that survey respondents changed their answers before submitting their survey, e.g. to try to qualify for a study, you can check their responses in the Logging Tool.

What is the logging tool?

You can use the logging tool to troubleshoot issues that arise that may be due to a change in a data value, calculations and branching logic no longer working, etc. In the log, you can filter by record, user, and event type.

Affiliated Organizations


Affiliated Organizations

DISC provides hosting, maintenance, and backup services of the REDCap at University of Colorado. Development & Informatics Service Center (DISC) is a team of programmers, database modelers, and web designers with more than 20 years' experience developing software solutions for researchers at the University of Colorado Denver. The Center has experience with a broad range of technologies and with the particular needs of health sciences researchers. Whether you need a web-based educational module, a web site your secretary can update, a scheduling program, a system for tracking time and effort, an inventory management system, a health education CD, or an online survey, they can help you.
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