Best Practices

Ascension REDCap Resources:

  • REDCap Usage Guide and Considerations: Click here to download Ascension's REDCap Usage Guide and Considerations.
  • REDCap Basic User Guide: Click here to download the REDCap manual with information and screenshots on how to create a new project, add fields to an existing project, use branching logic, review field types, etc. This guide has everything you need to take your project from development to production!
  • Ascension Survey Logo: Right click to download (choose “Save as…” to save the file to your computer) Ascension's logo for your REDCap surveys. To add a logo to your survey, within your project go to Project Setup–> Online Designer–> Survey Settings–> Add a Logo.
  • Example Data Dictionary: Download the example data dictionary. The column headers in this template contain information about how to populate the rows in your data dictionary. Hover over the first row to see useful tips. Use the template as an example of what can be included in your project.
  • Ascension Research and IRB: Download a Word document describing REDCap, which can be included in your IRB application.

What is a good length for my forms/surveys?

As a rule of thumb, online forms (especially in the case of surveys) are generally kept to a page or two. While you could make them much longer, users tend to get overwhelmed when they have to scroll across page after page of questions. Very long forms also take longer to complete. If you are distracted mid-form and do not save your work, your internet session could time-out (after 30 minutes of inactivity) and all unsaved data would be lost. So, if you think you’re starting to get carried away with a long series of questions, it may be preferable to break your questions up into multiple forms.

  • Data Entry: Group variables together that follow the data entry work flow, and use field types that minimize changing from keyboard to mouse. For example, you can enter a dropdown field option by typing the first character of the label, allowing you to “tab and type” through the data entry fields, while radio buttons require using the mouse to select an option). Keep forms fairly short to minimize risk of data loss (by saving more often when completing a form) and make it easier to identify data entry errors.
  • Data Analysis and Reporting: Use categorical response (dropdown, radio button, checkbox) field types when possible to reduce risk of data entry error. If these fields are not feasible, use text fields with validation (date, phone, email, integer, number) whenever possible to reduce the use of free-text fields. When using a text field with validation types of number or integer, define range minimum/maximum as much as possible to allow REDCap to perform basic data validation/quality control.

HIPAA Compliance and PHI

  • Export only when necessary – One of REDCap’s greatest strength is the security of your data. Take precaution when exporting data and only export data if you need to run reports or analyses outside of REDCap. Limit user privileges to only allow export rights to those who really need it.
  • Use REDCap’s Send-It Feature to send data – Send-It is a secure data transfer application that allows you to upload a file (up to 32 MB in size) and then allow multiple recipients to download the file in a secure manner. Each recipient will receive an email containing a unique download URL, along with a second follow-up email with the password (for greater security) for downloading the file. The file will be stored securely and then later removed from the server after the specified expiration date. Send-It is the perfect solution for anyone wanting to send files that are too large for email attachments or that contain sensitive data.
  • Representing Ascension – if you are sending surveys to non-Ascension associates, remember that you are representing Ascension. Be sure to use professionalism in your interactions.

Where can network and site-specific surveys be posted?

Please contact your Domain REDCap Administrator to find out where site-specific surveys can be posted.