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REDCap: REDCap@USA Appropriate Use Guidelines

REDCap Overview and Purpose


The Charles M. Baugh Biomedical Library’s Strategic Initiatives department has made Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) available for the University of South Alabama (USA) campus and for USA Health. REDCap provides a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases.  REDCap enables rapid project development and provides users with advanced functionality, complete autonomy and control of projects, and direct exports to common statistical packages to support research, performance improvement, and operational support projects.  Details about REDCap's general security features can be found at REDCap Technical Overview

This policy provides guidance to USA campus and USA Health faculty, staff, and students who use REDCap for research and performance improvement projects, including clinical, academic, and operational data collection. 

REDCap@USA Model

REDCap is an open source software program developed by Vanderbilt University in 2004 and is available to other institutions at no cost via a consortium model. USA became a consortium partner in 2015 and there are two separate instances of REDCap within the USA community. The University of South Alabama hosts the Campus REDCap@USA located at USA Health hosts the Health REDCap@USA located at REDCap administration and user support is provided by the REDCap@ USA Team through the Strategic Initiatives department of the Charles M. Baugh Biomedical Library. 

Campus REDCap@USA

The Campus REDCap@USA is available to all faculty, staff and students within the institution, and can be used for all institutional projects excluding those that contain HIPAA-protected information.  Students applying for a REDCap account must have a faculty sponsor.  More information on the Campus REDCap@USA, including the account application and login, can be found here

Health REDCap@USA

The Health REDCap@USA is available to all faculty, staff and students within the institution, and can be used for all institutional projects.  This instance of REDCap should be used for clinical care projects as it supports the collection of HIPAA-protected information.  Students applying for an account must have a faculty sponsor.  More information on the Health REDCap@USA, including the account application and login, can be found here.

Getting Started/Training

REDCap contains built in training videos and documentation to aid users as they build projects, and the videos are also available at Further user support for REDCap projects, including individual or group instructional sessions are provided by the REDCap@USA Team. Please contact Clista Clanton at if you are interested in a REDCap consult or training session. 

Definition of REDCap Terms

Principle Investigator (PI)
The Principle Investigator is the person responsible for the conduct of the research study.  This role includes responsibility for assignment of the project roles and authorizations of user specific forms and functions of the REDCap database to members of the project team.  The PI is the responsible party for ensuring data collected in REDCap for research purposes aligns with approved IRB protocol.
Project Owner
The project owner is the individual that creates the REDCap project.  The Project Owner (in the absence of the PI) is responsible for the assignment of roles and authorizations for members of the project team to use specific forms and functions of the REDCap project.
Project Team/Member
Project Team/Members include the PI, Project Owner, and any other personnel who are given access to the project, such as research assistants, project managers, data entry persons, etc.  The PI/Project Owner determines the level of access/functions assigned to team members. 
A project is a database or survey implemented in REDCap.  It is a set of data entry forms, schedules, and other REDCap instruments related to a specific research study or project.
REDCap Administrator
REDCap Administrators are personnel responsible for implementation and maintenance of REDCap software, user education, and management of projects (e.g., setting up user accounts, putting projects into production, and approving project changes).  Members of the REDCap@USA Team are administrators for both instances of REDCap@USA. 
Development Mode
Development mode is a state of the project that allows project team members to add, modify, or delete data entry forms and other elements of the project design.  Development mode allows for rapid project development as all changes to a project are immediately applied, including deletion of a project.  It is recommended that project testing be done during development mode, including entry of test data, to ensure project functionality before going into production mode.
Production Mode
Production mode is chosen when the project design and testing is complete and the collection of project data is ready to begin.  Once a project has been put into production mode, most modifications to the data collection design will need to be approved by a REDCap Administrator.  The approval process allows changes to be reviewed and checked for errors to ensure data integrity.     
External Modules
Individual packages of software called external modules are available for REDCap and can extend functionality, customization and enhancements at both the system and individual project level.  Modules will need to be enabled by a REDCap Administrator, and a list of modules are available from the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center for Biomedical Informatics and Biostatistics.
System Upgrades
The REDCap@USA Team and IT personnel will perform periodic system upgrades as needs are identified and major system upgrades are released.  Upgrades will include bug and security fixes, as well as new features and functionality.  The REDCap@USA Team will send an email to all accounts in the REDCap instance being upgraded four business days in advance (if possible) to notify of system down time.  During this time, users and survey respondents will not be able to access REDCap.  Most system upgrades require minimal amounts of down time (typically less than 2 hours).  If a longer down time is expected, this will be communicated to REDCap users.


Want to know if REDCap is the right choice for your project? Have questions about a project or need training? Request a consultation with one of our REDCap@USA team members:

Clista Clanton is the Assistant Director for Strategic Initiatives at the Biomedical Library and leads the REDCap@USA team. She has championed offering REDCap as a resource for research and performance improvement projects at USA and USA Health since 2015.
Heather Hoven-Glass is the Night Circulation Supervisor at the Biomedical Library and the Campus REDCap Administrator. Heather has supported REDCap at the USA Campus for more than 5 years and consults with faculty, staff, and students on REDCap projects.
Jessica Medema is a Library Technical Assistant II at the Biomedical Library and the USA Health REDCap Administrator.


It is the user’s responsibility to comply with all USA/USA Health policies and guidelines.  If you are collecting data for the purpose of human subjects research, IRB approval is required.  More information concerning human subjects research at USA can be found at

IRB Responsibilities

The REDCap@USA Team is not responsible for granting, approving, or waiving IRB project approvals.  Any questions regarding IRB compliance with regard to project data should be directed toward the appropriate review board.  Project Principle Investigators are responsible for ensuring that their project protocols allow for data capture, storage, and retrieval on our institution’s REDCap instances and their REDCap project only collects data approved in their IRB application.


REDCap servers are behind institutional firewalls. The Campus REDCap@USA server is maintained by the Computer Services Center located on the USA campus. The Health REDCap@USA server is maintained by Health System IT, located within the University Hospital. 

Unaffiliated User Access

Unaffiliated users (those that do not have a or email address) can receive a login to REDCap if they are working on a collaborative or multi-center project with USA institutional partners. Unaffiliated users must be sponsored by a USA faculty or staff member in order to receive access to REDCap. Unaffiliated users will have access to assigned REDCap projects, but will not be able to create new projects themselves.


Both Campus REDCap@USA and Health REDCap@USA are available to all USA faculty, staff, and students at no cost.  User support services such as account setup, activating projects, and answering user questions are available through the REDCap@USA Team.

For those with funded projects, individuals may request the REDCap@USA Team to provide consulting and project development services (including builds of forms/surveys, data management, running reports, etc.) for a fee.  Please contact Clista Clanton at for a cost estimate based on specific project needs.

Citing REDCap

Please note that any publication that results from a project utilizing REDCap should cite the following:
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.

See more boilerplate language examples for REDCap@USA.