Research takes time, and while traditional methods for gathering data are effective, a faster and more accessible research tool exists.
Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) is a secure, web-based application designed exclusively to support data capture for research.
Developed at Vanderbilt University, REDCap is a service offered at UC through the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST), which receives support from the Clinical and Translational Science Award program from the National Institutes of Health.
The application is now in use by thousands of investigators for projects across a consortium of 457 active institutional partners, including UC, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, UC Health and the Greater Cincinnati community.
Tolly Epstein, MD, a clinical researcher in the immunology, allergy and rheumatology division, recently used REDCap for her work on asthma and pollution.
"My research would pretty much be infeasible without REDCap,” says Epstein. "As a new investigator without industry sponsorship, I would never be able to afford a data management system like REDCap without institutional support.”
According to Epstein, having a secure data management system for research is essential since a large amount of collected data is from patients, some of which includes personal identifiers.
"In addition, because [I] research patients at multiple locations in Cincinnati, being able to log in to REDCap is also crucial.”
REDCap’s streamlined process for rapidly developing projects allows researchers to create and design projects using an online method from their web browser and/or an offline method by constructing a ‘data dictionary’ template file in Microsoft Excel.
Epstein says that retrieving data for analysis with statistical software is extremely easy, and the descriptive summary of data and shared project calendar provided by REDCap are useful tools, too.
REDCap also includes a scheduling module, ad hoc reporting tools and advanced features, such as branching logic, file uploading and calculated fields.
Epstein is not the only one taking advantage of REDCap’s capabilities. Currently, more than 44,000 projects and over 59,000 users spanning numerous research focus areas across the consortium use REDCap.
In May, UC’s CCTST hosted a workshop titled "REDCap Riverfest Cincy,” where over 110 REDCap administrators from across the U.S. and several foreign countries were in attendance. Cathy McGraw of the CCTST is UC’s REDCap administrator and organizer of the workshop.
"Any faculty collecting patient data for research should strongly consider using REDCap,” says Epstein.