REDCap FAQ/Resources


Note: Many of the FAQs below stem directly from the Vanderbilt REDCap “Help & FAQ” section. We chose to include only those that we felt were the most important and relevant to the general purposes of our clients. For Vanderbilt’s full FAQ, see the “Help & FAQ” module inside

Q: How much experience with programming, networking and/or database construction is required to use REDCap?

No programming, networking or database experience is needed to use REDCap. Simple design interfaces within REDCap handle all of these details automatically.

It is recommended that once designed, you have a statistician review your project. It is important to consider the planned statistical analysis before collecting any data. A statistician can help assure that you are collecting the appropriate fields, in the appropriate format necessary to perform the needed analysis.

Q: How should I cite REDCap for the Data Management section of my IRB submission?

We do have recommended documentation; see the Citing REDCap in your IRB protocol section of our REDCap Walk-through.

Q: What is the Record Status Dashboard?

This is a table listing all existing records/responses and their status for every data collection instrument (and for a longitudinal project, for every event). When viewing this page, form-level privileges are utilized (i.e. a user cannot see a form’s status if the user does not have access to that form), and if the user belongs to a Data Access Group, they will only be able to view the records that belong to their group.

Note: Since projects may now have many surveys, REDCap no longer displays the Survey Response Summary on the Project Home page.

Q: How do I enter / view my data?

To enter or view individual records, you can navigate to the “Data Collection” section on the left menu bar. Depending on your project type, you will see “Add or View Survey Responses”, a listing of your form names, or a “Data Entry” icon. Use the drop down record lists so you can select or add a new record/response.

Use the Report Builder tool to view your data. The Report Builder tool serves as the search engine of a REDCap database. The Report Builder queries the database in real time and displays the resulting data in table format. Variables are listed in columns and individual records are displayed in rows.

Use the Graphical View & Stats tool to view your data. The Plots tab displays graphical representations for all numerical and categorical variables and provides links for cleaning notable data (missing, highest, lowest values). The Descriptive Stats tab displays descriptive statistics for all variables.

Q: Can I upload files to attach to individual subject records?

Yes, you can upload documents for individual records. To create a new document upload field in the Data Dictionary for any given REDCap project, set the Field Type = ‘file.’ You may add as many ‘file’ fields as needed to your data collection instruments.

Documents can be uploaded and downloaded by navigating to the record’s data entry page and clicking the file link. A document can be deleted at any time, and there is no limit to how many times the document can be replaced by uploading another file to that record’s file upload field.

Q: Do I need to select the record number again each time I change data entry forms?

No. To navigate between forms within a given record, select the colored dots indicating form status (i.e. incomplete, unverified, and complete) which appear to the left of the form name when a record is open. Note that moving to a new form by selecting the form status indicator will close the current form without saving entries. In order to save entries, select the “Save and Continue” button located at the bottom of the form before using the form status indicators to move to a new form. Alternatively, you can select the “Save and go to Next Form” button if you wish to move to the next form for the current record.

Q: What are the risks of modifying a database that is already in Production?

Altering a database that is in Production can cause data loss. If a Production database must be modified, follow these rules to protect your data:

  • Do not change existing variable names, or data stored for those variables will be lost. To restore data that has been lost in this way, revert to previous variable name(s).
  • Do not change existing form names via a data dictionary upload, or form completeness data will be lost. Form names may be changed within the Online Designer without data loss.
  • Do not modify the codes and answers for existing dropdown, radio, or checkbox variables; or existing data will be lost or confused. It is only acceptable to add choices to a dropdown, radio, or checkbox field.

Q: When exporting data from redcap into SPSS, will the variable codes that you’ve defined be automatically imported into SPSS (for ex 1, Female 2, Male)?

Yes. REDCap uses the metadata you have defined in your data dictionary to create syntax files for SPSS, SAS, R, and Stata. The Data Export tool includes instructions for linking the exported syntax and data files. Note that SPSS has several variable naming conventions:

  • The name MUST begin with a letter. The remaining characters may be any later, digit, a period or the symbols #, @, _, or $
  • Variable names cannot end with a period
  • The length of the name cannot exceed 64 bytes (64 characters)
  • Spaces and special characters other than the symbols above cannot be used
  • No duplicate names are acceptable; each character must be unique
  • Reserved keywords cannot be used as variable names (ALL, AND, BY, EQ, GE, GT, LE, LT, NE, NOT, OR, TO, and WITH)

Q: How do I import data from another source?

Data from another source can be imported using the Data Import Tool (most commonly used) or the API (Application Programming Interface).

The Data Import Tool requires that data to be imported is in CSV (comma separated variables) format. The order of the fields or the number of fields being imported does not matter, except that the record identifier (e.g., Subject ID) must be the first field.

Q: How do I import longitudinal data?

The Data Import Tool requires you to use the “redcap_event_name” column when importing data. You must specify the event name in the file using the unique “redcap_event_name.” You can upload multiple event data per subject.

The unique “redcap_event_name”s are listed on each project’s Define My Events page.

You can insert this field after the unique identifier as the second column or you can add it to the end of your import spreadsheet (last column).

Additional Resources


Full REDCap FAQ:

REDCap Training Videos:

Center for Health Insights website:

REDCap Contact Information:

REDCap Support Team