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REDCap is a free, secure, web-based application that enables Nova Scotia Health affiliated investigators and researchers to build online surveys and databases, collect and track information from research studies, and schedule study events. No programming, networking, or database experience is needed to use REDCap. Simply point and click.

Features of REDCap

REDCap offers a streamlined process for rapidly developing projects that allows users to create and design databases and surveys using either Online Designer, or an Offline Method of constructing a “data dictionary” file in Microsoft Excel and uploading it to REDCap. It also allows for the collection of anonymous responses or track-and-identify responses from survey participants by sending a link to your survey via email, entering data manually, or posting a link on your website. REDCap features include the ability to:

  • efficiently create user friendly, online data collection instruments
  • design data collection instruments for simple and complex data models (one-to-one and one-to-many relationships)
  • create and manage online surveys, both public and participant-specific
  • validate data entry mechanisms (e.g., data types, range checks) 
  • audit trails that track “who/what/when” in regards to data entry and export procedures
  • schedule and track critical study events through a calendar feature (e.g., blood draws, participant visits, etc.) 
  • export study data into Microsoft Excel and analysis packages such as SPSS, SAS, R, and STATA

A powerful platform

The benefits of using REDCap for your study are many, including the following:

  • Secure and web-based. Input data from anywhere in the world with secure web authentication, data logging, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption.
  • Fast and flexible. Conception to production-level database in less than one day.
  • Multi-site access. Projects can be used by researchers from multiple sites and institutions.
  • Fully customizable. You are in total control of shaping your database or survey.
  • Advanced question features. Auto-validation, branching logic, and stop actions.
  • Mid-study modifications. You may modify the database or survey at any time during the study.
  • Data import functions. Data may be imported from external data sources to begin a study or to provide mid-study data uploads.
  • Keep a paper trail. Surveys and forms can be downloaded as a PDF file to be printed and filed.
  • Data comparison functions. Double data entry / Blinded data entry.
  • Export survey results to common data analysis packages. Export your data to Microsoft Excel, SAS, STATA, R, or SPSS for analysis.
  • Save your survey or forms as PDFs. Generate a PDF version for printing in order to collect responses offline.

Using REDCap at Nova Scotia Health

Here are some useful things to know about using REDCap:

  • Data is stored locally on secure Nova Scotia Health servers
  • Projects can be used by researchers from multiple sites and institutions
  • REDCap is a powerful tool but may not meet your entire database and data management needs. It is important to understand the capabilities of REDCap before investing the resources to establish the project.
  • Minimal training is needed to begin using REDCap, but it helps to watch their video/training resources.
  • REDCap is updated regularly, so functions may change.

Getting started with REDCap

Note: Please read the REDCap Terms of Service before applying for a REDCap account.

  1. Secure approval for your study from the Nova Scotia Health Ethics Review Board
  2. Complete the REDCap Project Initiation Form
  3. After receiving your form, RMU consultants will create the user account for REDCap, create the project (unless it already exists), and give you access.
  4. You will then receive an email with information how to log on to your REDCap site. In the “My Projects” folder, you will see a list of projects to which you have access.

If you’ll be collecting personal health information for your study, you may require a Privacy Impact Assessment. The Nova Scotia Health Privacy Office will assess whether this is needed for your particular study. This process is independent from the Research Ethics Board Review, and needs to be completed before access to REDCap can be granted. We encourage you to contact the Nova Scotia Health Privacy Office early so there’s little or no delay in establishing a REDCap account for your study. Contact the Nova Scotia Health Privacy Office at

Using REDCap

Once you've been given access to REDCap, here’s how to get started with your project.

  1. Learn: View documents, user guides, and tutorials provided by REDCap
  1. Define: Define data variables and their properties (i.e. text boxes, dropdown menus, radio buttons)
  1. Preview: Preview your project content, add study member permissions, and test functionality
  1. Revise: Revise your REDCap database as needed
  1. Launch: Launch your project into production to start collecting project data

If you’re finding REDCap challenging to use, the Research Methods Unit (RMU) can provide assistance on a fee-for-service basis. Please contact the RMU for specific assistance.