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REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a secure, web-based application for databases and online surveys for research purposes.

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Learn More About REDCap

The logo for REDCap Research Electronic Data Capture tool includes those words with a red baseball hat perched on the R.

REDCap Program Features Expand answer
  • Build online surveys and databases quickly and securely. Create and design projects from a web browser. No extra software is required.
  • Fast and flexible. Conception to production-level survey/database in less than one day.
  • Export data to common data-analysis packages. Export data to Microsoft Excel, PDF, SAS, Stata, R or SPSS for analysis.
  • Ad hoc reporting. Generate downloadable reports using custom queries.
  • Scheduling. Utilize a built-in project calendar and scheduling module for organizing events and appointments.
  • Easily manage a contact list of survey respondents or create a simple survey link. Build a list of email contacts, create custom email invitations and track who responds, or create a single survey link to email or post on a website.
  • Save data collection instruments as a PDF to print. Generate a PDF version of forms and surveys for printing to collect data offline.
  • Advanced features. Auto-validation, calculated fields, branching/skip logic and survey stop actions.
Data Security and Privacy in REDCap Expand answer
  • Compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • All data encrypted and stored on a secure server
  • Access to database requires user authentication with password
  • Role-based data access
  • Logging and audit trails on all data interactions

REDCap can remove identifiers from a dataset before exporting for analysis to create either a limited dataset or a safe harbor dataset. A safe harbor dataset is the removal of the 18 pieces of information considered identifiers for the purposes of HIPAA compliance.

All investigators are encouraged to use REDCap for capturing research data. All pilot projects supported by Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute funding are required to use REDCap for data capture or provide evidence to the privacy officer and data security officer that the system to be used for data capture is HIPAA-compliant.

The following items are not allowed in REDCap:

  • No SSN
  • No Clinical Workflow
  • No FACTA (Consumer Protections related data)
  • No PCI (Credit Card related data)
  • No ACH (Banking payment data)
REDCap Training Expand answer

Training is required to gain access to the REDCap application. Training is available through online tutorials. After viewing these videos, a quiz must be passed to gain access.

Access tutorials

REDCap User Guide Expand answer

A variety of information is available to improve your use of REDCap.

What is a Data Owner?

The data owner is the individual primarily responsible for the project and the data collected. Guidelines for the data owner, dependent on the project type, are:

  • Research: Principal investigator
  • Quality Improvement: Principal investigator or director
  • Operational: Director or person requesting project creation
  • Other (Education): Professor

Creating a Project

When creating a project, a popup window will notify the user that a Delegation/Revocation of Signing Authority is needed if the user is primarily responsible for the processing of REDCap projects and is not the data owner.

If the data owner does not delegate signing authority, then the owner will need a REDCap account with access to the project and must submit the request themselves.

Additional delegation forms can be submitted for any study team member who will be making requests to the REDCap administrator.

Moving Projects to Production

Before moving a project to production:

  • Develop and test thoroughly all instruments created in the project.
  • Use the “Check for Identifiers” tool found in the Project Setup page under the Online Designer.
  • For research projects, have a copy of the IRB Determination letter available.
  • If the requestor is not the data owner, obtain a Delegation/Revocation of Signing Authority Form from the data owner.

When the “Move to Production” button is clicked, a popup window will appear with a link to a “Move to Production Request” survey. The requestor needs to have the following documentation available:

  • A Delegation/Revocation of Signing Authority Form available for upload (if not already on file with REDCap) if the requestor is not the data owner. This form can be found in the Applications section of the project.
  • An IRB Determination Letter if the project is designated as research and has a protocol approved/exempt from the IRB.

In the request survey, the PID of the REDCap project will be requested. It is very important to include the value in the “?pid=” portion (REDCap project ID) in the address line (URL) of the project so that the request can be matched to the REDCap project.


Submitting Draft Mode Changes for Review

All draft mode changes for review that require REDCap administrator approval need to be completed by the study team member who has delegation rights.

Using Role-Based Access Control

The study team is responsible for adding, modifying and removing users from their project. Only the data owner or delegate has this capability.

Allowable HTML Tags

The following HTML tags can be used in REDCap:

  • ol, ul and li
  • label
  • pre
  • p and br
  • a
  • h4
  • font, center, b, i, u, em and strong
  • acronym, sub and sup
  • h1, h2 and h3
  • table, tbody, th, tr, td
  • img
  • span and div

REDCaptcha External Module

The REDCaptcha external module integrates Google’s reCAPTCHA service, which helps protect websites from spam and abuse, into REDCap.

A CAPTCHA is a test to tell human and bots apart. It is a small task that easy for humans to do, but hard for bots and other malicious software to figure out.

See a walkthrough of how to use the module here.

Email Notifier Plugin

The Email Notifier tool can set up a trigger that will generate an email to anyone on the project when a form instrument has been saved. It can be found in the “Applications” section of all REDCap projects.

Multiple-Choice Fields: Copy Existing Choices

When using the same set of choices for different multiple-choice fields, click on the link “Copy Existing Choices” (found above the “Choice” dialog box in the “Add New Field” popup). This will ensure consistent coding among questions.

Survey Progress Bar

To add a progress bar, use this code:

<div style=”width:100%; border:0; margin:0; padding:0; background-color:#A9BAD1; text-align:center;”><div style=”width:33%; border: 0; margin:0; padding:0; background-color:#8491A2″><span style=”color:#8491A2″>.</span></div></div>

Determine the number of surveys and place this code at the top of each survey’s instructions and adjust the “width:33%” part to the appropriate proportion. Color can also be changed.

Code was provided by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Using Multiple Matrices on a Single Page

To create several matrices on a single survey page where the survey was configured for multiple pages, create a section header at the top of the group of matrices, then create the matrices with no matrix header. Leaving out the matrix header will suppress forcing the matrix to a new page in the survey.

If each matrix needs a header, use the Descriptive Field prior to the beginning of each matrix and style it with HTML.

Best Practices

  • Always keep a copy of your Data Dictionary (downloaded to Excel).
  • Do not change variable names or values of categorical field types once real data collection begins.
  • Group variables together that follow the data entry workflow.
  • Keep forms fairly short to minimize risk of data loss.
  • Use categorical field types (yes/no, multiple choice, etc.) whenever possible.
  • When using text fields, add field validation to minimize data entry errors.
  • Involve a statistician early during the development of the database.
  • Use the multi-page surveys feature to allow the participant to complete the survey in sections with each completed page uploading to REDCap.
  • Enable the “Save and Return Later” feature for large surveys.
Citing REDCap Expand answer

Cite the REDCap project and the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute grant when publishing a manuscript using the following language:

Study data were collected and managed using REDCap electronic data capture tools hosted at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.1 REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a secure, web-based application designed to support data capture for research studies, providing:

  • an intuitive interface for validated data entry
  • audit trails for tracking data manipulation and export procedures
  • automated export procedures for seamless data downloads to common statistical packages
  • procedures for importing data from external sources

1 Paul 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.

Acknowledge NIH grant support in each publication, press release or other documents about research that benefited from the Penn State Clinical and Translational Research Institute Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) UL1 Grant and include a disclaimer such as those seen here.

REDCap IRB Template Expand answer

If planning to use REDCap, use the following in the IRB application:

Study data will be collected and managed using REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture). REDCap is a secure web application designed to support data capture for research studies, providing user-friendly web-based case report forms, real-time data entry validation (e.g., for data types and range checks), audit trails and a de-identified data export mechanism to common statistical packages (SPSS, SAS, Stata, R/S-Plus). The system was developed by a multi-institutional consortium which includes The Pennsylvania State University and was initiated at Vanderbilt University. The database is hosted at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine data center, which will be used as a central location for data processing and management. REDCap data collection projects rely on a thorough study-specific data dictionary defined in an iterative self-documenting process by all members of the research team. This iterative development and testing process results in a well-planned data collection strategy for individual studies. REDCap is flexible enough to be used for a variety of types of research and provides an intuitive user interface for database design and data entry.


P.A. Harris, R. Thielke, R. Taylor, J. Payne, N. Gonzalez, J.G. Conde. “Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) – A metadata-driven methodology and workflow process for providing translational research informatics support.” Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 2008.

REDCap Release Notes Expand answer
REDCap Support Expand answer

All REDCap support is available using an online form.

Get REDCap support